This article was first published in the Lex Witness September 2018 issue.
The Indian legal industry is growing and becoming highly competitive day by day. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to have a strong brand, and setting oneself apart in this rat race. Key factors like increased competition, firm mergers & acquisitions, globalization, extensive need for greater client satisfaction and changes to the regulatory landscape, make it essential to engage into branding and positioning initiatives to detail on what makes your firm distinct, relevant, and yet authentic.
However, the road to successful branding and positioning for law firms has several challenges, and it is important to keep some considerations in mind when aspiring for successful outcomes.
In the first five articles of the six-part series, we discussed the overall need for a well thought and planned strategic branding, positioning & business development, the importance of PR, media management for lawyers and law firms, the role of bespoke platforms in a firm’s branding & positioning canvas, the importance of writing and publishing, and how to use digital platforms to brand and position law firms. In this last article of the series, we will focus on the role of good internal communication when it comes to building a brand.
Employees today, lawyers and support staff alike, demand increased collaboration and transparency in feedback. They have less time for office politics, and are more discerning about the ways their employers talk and listen to them.
The workforce of today are working differently, and effective internal communications make a great addition to the set of tools that firms can use to their advantage in rallying their internal resources behind a common goal, and building a brand.
Here are some clearly laid out reasons for developing and encouraging effective internal communications:
DRIVE & PURPOSE
Your employees are always eager to understand the firm’s goals and plans to achieve them. They also need to understand the value of their contributions, and how it can play a part in the firm’s growth.
It is important to show your employees the SMART approach:
S –> Specific –> Who, What, Where, Why, Which
M àMeasurable à From and To
A à Attainable à How
R à Relevance
T à Timely à When
It is important to have organizational hierarchy for effective decision making and growth. However, it often happens that information cascade on their way top-down through hierarchies. This may often cause delays, skewed feedback, and dependence on individual interpretation of the messages.
Informal communications may be fast, but always has the risk of skewed interpretations without the knowledge of the original information. Formal and effective internal communication eliminates such challenges, and offers dual advantage in terms of message delivery and feedback.
Firms can understand their employees better through effective internal communication, and ensure that they reach the right people who are doing the actual work. Effective internal communication can build a bridge, and make it to be a 2 way communication channel.
MANAGE THE FLOW
It is critical for firms to control the flow of information, while ensuring timelines and transparency of the messages.
Your employees should hear about important firm news and development directly from the management, and not from external sources. It is crucial to develop reliable channels of communication that are fast and interactive. Using firm’s digital platforms, like emailers, website announcement boards and blogs, can enable the firm to control the messages they send, and create trust and transparency in the process.
During a crisis situation, it is key to adequately and honestly communicate the crisis to your employees in a timely manner. The way the firm’s internal and external stakeholder perceive the situation will dictate whether the incident metastasizes into a full-blown crisis.
Usually, during a crisis, the Partners tend to insufficiently communicate to their associates and staff, down in the hierarchy chain. A well-executed internal communication can help guide your employees’ perception about the crisis, and helps in managing the development of the situations life cycle as well. This will in turn help in preserving the firm’s brand and reputation, and avoid similar situations from happening in the future.
Effective internal communication can lead to creating a healthy work environment, which in turn can help retain and attract talent.
Legal industry has high attrition rates. Good internal communication, top-down and bottom-up can increase employee engagement. This enables in retaining quality talent, and save the firm money in the long run. This will provide the firm with an edge in this highly competitive market, and will become a testament to your brand for the clientele as well.
Now is the “era of the client,” and law firms are expected to deliver high-quality legal services that provide value to the client. Every law firm, irrespective of its size, should consider investing time and resources in employee communication, training and retention as part of their overall strategic plan.
Your employees are your assets. In a service based industry, your talent is your product and your capital, and it is crucial to value and develop your in-house talents. Investing in the development of your talent is a guaranteed approach to not only new client acquisition, but also ensuring your existing clients are satisfied. In this highly competitive industry, clients have too many choices for legal service providers.
HIRE AN EXPERT
Running a law firm is not an easy task. While the Partners may focus on providing quality and timely legal advice to clients, while having the pressure of generating new business, critical firm operational management decisions and plans may take a back seat.
Law firm management consultants specialize in understanding such challenges, and bring solutions to the table which can empower the firm to grow efficiently both externally and well as from inside-out. Don’t hesitate to consult with us expert to understand how you can grow your firm holistically and sustain the growth long-term.
I am the Principal Consultant at the Lex Witness Strategic Counsel Desk, an invitation based initiative, which caters to various entities who seek to create and improve their brand and undertake market activation strategies in the Indian legal market space. Much beyond the space of the magazine, the Strategic Counsel Desk aspires to provide a holistic framework for the firm’s positioning and business growth, primarily focusing on the strength in the Indian legal industry.