A few months ago we invited you all to take a survey addressing how truly “collegial and collaborative” your firm is, and how well prepared you felt (a) to be able to knowledgeably point clients towards cross-serving opportunities and (b) to be rewarded internally for doing so. We probed your thoughts on these issues in fairly concrete terms.

Janet Stanton was the leading force behind the survey design and conducted the analysis of the results, and her report on what we learned follows.

She will tell you in her own forthright style what the survey revealed, and I confidently predict you will understand why Janet and I believe probing behind bald assertions about firms’ cultural characteristics can be revealing.

Take it away, Janet.


Dear Readers,

As you may recall, we asked you to participate in a study to see how (truly) collegial and collaborative firms are.  “Collegiality” and “collaboration” are bandied about by many firms as what sets them apart from other firms. One might question—and we do—whether characteristics claimed promiscuously by virtually every firm you care to ask can be a distinction, but that’s not what we’re writing about today.

Rather, we decided to approach head-on the reality that “collegial” and “collaborative” are asserted with little or nothing by way of actual support for the claim. So we decided to ask you, our faithful readers, about aspects of collaboration at your firms.  Since in the abstract collegiality and collaboration are, well, a little abstract, we thought cross-serving current clients is a very tangible manifestation of collaboration within a firm.

Thanks to the over 200 of you who responded.  (We’ll contact the winners of the gift check lottery via email.)

On to the results….

So, just how collegial are law firms – in terms of collaborating on cross-serve opportunities?  The overall answer is – not so much.  That said, there are some intriguing nuances that came out in the research as well as some relatively easy ways to address possible shortcomings at your firm.

We looked at several “slices” of the respondent base to see if differences emerged.   These slices include: all lawyers, those who identified as management (MPs/Chairs, executive committee members and practice group leaders), associates and business professionals (including C-suite members and administrators).  We also looked at respondents from firms with more than 500 lawyers and those from firms with fewer than 100 lawyers.  Don’t worry – we won’t be reporting out on all questions by all segments.  Sure you have better meds for insomnia.

Let’s start with the good-ish news.

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