Accounting for Law
Estates & Wills & Trusts

Law firm collaboration fosters mentorship, rapid-fire solutions

A collaborative approach to law firm management can be well-suited to today’s competitive legal marketplace, as it ensures there’s always somebody who can step in and help a client, Toronto trusts and estates litigator Ian Hull tells Lawyers Weekly.

Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP, explains that his firm has changed its practice to incorporate two “synergy rooms” set up with desks. Partners are assigned to each room and associates are encouraged to go in and work alongside them.

“We’re actually looking at each other, in a sense,” says Hull. “It’s almost like a bullpen but as partners we stay there. It’s our permanent spot and that, first of all, helps the mentoring but it also sort of allows rapid-fire solutions.”

Working in the rooms allows partners and associates to discuss files and bounce ideas off one another. Partners can also mentor and offer suggestions to associates working on files. The firm also holds retreats twice a year.

As Hull says in the article, the top-down approach to managing a law firm is old-school and, because the legal world is more competitive, lawyers must do a better job of working as a team.

“I just don’t see how the old-fashioned rainmaker model can sustain itself. I don’t think people operate that way in business anymore. You need leadership, but it comes down to the fact that if we don’t collaborate as a team to get the new business we’re not going to get the new business and people are going to get ahead of us,” he says.

However, he adds, it wasn’t easy to change the attitudes of some colleagues when it came to introducing the concept of collaboration.

“There were surprisingly more hurdles than I thought I’d have to overcome. It’s not conventional so most people coming into it don’t expect it in our business.”

For example, Hull explains, the synergy rooms are still not universally enjoyed by associates.

“Some associates just don’t like it, so there’s still a bit of old school in it.”

Hull tells Lawyers Weekly that he has tried to overcome this by talking to associates about the benefits of collaboration and occasionally bringing in consultants to explain the process.

“Sometimes people just get used to it and they come in a few more times and after they’ve done it three or four times they say, ‘Hey, you know what, it’s not so bad.’”

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