01 Feb A Space that Says Team
If you follow this blog, you’ll know that we have a new attorney, Sean Foley, on board. I’ve been thinking that should the firm continue to grow and we decide to open an office, how do I make sure that my clients feel welcome?
Most of you know that I work out of Cowork Frederick and I love working here. There are so many folks of different professions working here which gives me different points of view. I meet people on a professional level that I likely would not have met. Many of them have become not only business colleagues but also my friends. The experience at Cowork Frederick has shaped my thinking about working, professional relationships, teams, and offices in general.
I often think about how I would structure a law office. If you imagine for a moment you go to a medium-size law firm where 20 lawyers are on staff. Maybe they occupy an entire floor. You walk off the elevator, head to the reception desk, and they announce your presence to your attorney’s assistant. You’ll sit for a few minutes until the assistant comes to get you and guides you to a conference room. Along the way, you see a bunch of offices with one lawyer in each office. I’ve thought about what kind of image that projects.
When you walk through an office and see one lawyer to an office, it makes me wonder if those lawyers can operate as a team. It doesn’t look like there’s any opportunity for regular team-based action or interaction. Even when I was working at a small law firm, it would be unusual for me to have my laptop in a colleague’s office working out a problem. I might go in and chat about a problem for five to ten minutes, but then I’d be back in my corner–solo.
I believe in the value and power of a team. As I start to grow my firm and hire additional attorneys, I will need them to have a team-based mindset. Many law firms talk about teams, they even will advertise industry or practice sector teams. But a team is more than just an advertisement, it is more than lip service. Look at professional sports teams, they may have periods of a training session where they work on specific skills for their position, but there are large chunks of the training sessions, game preparation, study, and discussion that take place as a team. When they get ready for games, they are together as a team. Team is not just about people, it is about places. Be it a locker room or a work room, a place has to encourage teamwork.
I have thought about how to structure an office that not only encourages teamwork but also lets clients in on that collaboration vibe. I find it important that clients get an impression, a feeling, and a true sense that teamwork is of paramount importance. Why do I feel that way you may ask?
When you hire our law firm you’re hiring our entire team – not just me, not just Sean, not just Kelly. Not only that, you’re hiring the access of other professionals outside of the firm who could share their knowledge and expertise with us, whether that be social media, marketing, accounting, or business development. These are the kinds of resources that we bring as a general counsel. I don’t think we could bring these positive aspects of our services if we were physically divided in the same office.
When clients come to visit us I want them to know that our principles of teamwork and collaboration are of utmost importance. I may not be the best person to answer a question that a client may have. Rather it could be Sean, Kelly, or one of our many colleagues in other professions that could confidently answer your question. This work together attitude help us serve our clients to the best of our ability.
I’m not sure what my future law firm office will look like. I’m not even wedded to the idea of having an independent office, though I may need to if the firm continues to grow in the long-term. I do think about these team aspects, however, because a working space says a lot about our firm and our values that we hold dear.