23 Nov Office Culture: Creating a Law Office People Enjoy Working at
We have come to the conclusion that creating a fun law office to work at is one of the most important aspects of staff retention. After all, if staff members are having a good time while at the office and enjoying each other’s company, they are less inclined to take another opportunity at another not so fun law firm.
The starting point to develop an excellent law office culture is to try to break down the hierarchy and stuffiness of most law firms. Invariably, lawyers are put on a higher pedestal than the assistants and that clearly takes the fun out of the law firm by creating unnecessary tension. The better approach is to ensure that all lawyers understand that they are social equals with the staff members.
Another easy way of creating a fun law office to work at is to schedule a few staff functions every quarter of the year. You don’t have to spend a whole pile of money hosting an event but rather, have a social Friday or hump day (Wednesday) event where the staff socialize, have a beverage and playing games. The law office culture will be sparked as everyone will be looking forward to these events.
Another way of creating a fun law office to work at is to allow a certain level of socialization during the day. You will get more productivity out of the staff if you allow them to exchange pleasantries instead of being slaves at the desk waiting for the end of the day.
A more expensive approach to improving the law office culture and creating a fun law office to work at is to have an annual or semiannual firm retreat. It’s expensive but the amount of bonding that comes out of these events is priceless. You can also take the opportunity to brainstorm improvements in policies and procedures at the law firm which in turn, creates better efficiencies and improves the bottom line. Forging personal relationships between team members is integral – people go to bat for those they care about.
Probably the most important bonding exercise to improve the law office culture and create a fun law office to work at is the Christmas party. If you just schedule a sit-down lunch or dinner without adding a social event before or afterward, it will be a snooze fest. It’s important to set up a situation where the staff members and lawyers are forced to mingle around and not sit at a table for dinner or lunch only.
Ultimately, whether or not a law firm is a fun place to work at is highly dependent on the lawyers and partners. If they are not prepared to show some desire to be social and caring to the staff members then you will not be able to build a strong law office culture. Staff retention will be well below industry standards and the office will not be a pleasant place to come to work each day.