Most people think of a legal team simply as a group of people who work in a law office — the lawyers, paralegals, and secretaries. However, legal teams involve many more players than that. A legal team comprises everyone who has a role in getting a product or service to market. That may include members of your marketing, sales, and operations departments and your executive team.
Regarding product launches and other significant initiatives, it’s not surprising that effective collaboration among all team members is essential. But what does “effective collaboration” mean? How can you ensure that it happens?
Let’s explore those questions and discuss some tips for fostering effective collaboration throughout your legal team.
Define The Roles And Responsibilities Of Each Team Member
Before you start collaborating, you must ensure that all members know their roles. Each team member should clearly understand their responsibilities and how they fit into the overall picture. Otherwise, it will be difficult to coordinate efforts between team members and between departments.
To clearly define these roles, you may want to create a simple matrix that lists all of the team members and their respective roles. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and knows who is responsible for what.
Set Clear Goals And Objectives
Once all team members know their roles, it’s time to start setting the goals they’ll be striving to meet. What is the overall goal of the project? What specific objectives need to be met by the different parties involved? Without a clear understanding of the project’s goals, it will be challenging to measure success.
That said, it’s also essential to ensure the goals are realistic. If the goals are too ambitious, team members may feel discouraged by their seeming inability to achieve them. On the other hand, team members may become complacent if the goals are too easy.
Effective collaboration is impossible without effective communication. Team members must be able to share information and ideas freely, whether through regular meetings, conference calls, or email.
But communication is not just about sharing information. It’s also about listening. Team members need to be open to hearing new ideas and feedback. Otherwise, communication will break down, severely limiting and negating the benefits of teamwork.
One of the best ways to foster effective collaboration is to encourage team members to think outside the box, using creative approaches to develop new ideas. This will help ensure that everyone is invested in the project, that no one is bored and complacent, and that the final product is the best it can be.
To encourage creativity, you may want to try brainstorming sessions or creative exercises to instill a fresh, imaginative mindset in your team.
Be Open To Feedback
Feedback is essential for effective collaboration, allowing team members to share their thoughts and ideas openly. Without the ability to provide feedback, team members may feel like their input isn’t valued, becoming less personally invested in the project’s success.
To encourage feedback, you may want to create a dedicated space for it. This can be a physical space, like a whiteboard, or an online space, like Google Docs. Alternatively, you may want to set aside time at the end of each meeting for team members to share their feedback.
Effective collaboration is essential for any legal team. By following the tips above, you can help ensure that your team works together smoothly to achieve its goals. To foster a collaborative environment conducive to success, you just have to communicate regularly, encourage creativity, and be open to feedback.
The My (Legal) Self podcast episode “Season 4, Episode 19: Season 4, Episode 19: We’ve Had It Backwards the Entire Time (featuring Chad Aboud)” provides additional insights into effectively collaborating with other team members.
Olga V. Mack is the VP at LexisNexis and CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to participate on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board Seat, Fundamentals of Smart Contract Security, and Blockchain Value: Transforming Business Models, Society, and Communities. She is working on Visual IQ for Lawyers, her next book (ABA 2023). You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.