The term Critical Friend is not well known in law firm circles. It's something we have been advocating for nearly a year now, as one possible answer to the question: what help is available for teams and leaders in firms who want to make change happen?
So, what is a critical friend? Typically, a critical friend is a person who understands, and is sympathetic to, the aims and objectives of the business they are working with, but who is outside the business. A critical friend is committed to helping their client to improve and succeed, whether that client is an individual or a group, by providing challenge, encouragement and candid feedback.
.Today's law firm is constantly looking for new ways to provide better service and client experience, reduce cost, and improve, or at the very least maintain, profit levels. Firms are focusing on efficiency and cost savings, and looking for new strategies to maximise revenue and profit, such as outsourcing both legal and support work, reviewing pricing, and addressing process management â and even using artificial intelligence.
But at their core, law firms are still people businesses, and they can only maximise the output of their human capital (the value of their investment in people) through paying constant attention to developing, supporting and encouraging their people in everything they do. Firms are already doing this through the development of professional knowhow, the building of career paths for their lawyers, and increasingly focusing on the training and development of the lawyers and other professionals who manage the increasingly complex businesses that law firms have become.
And in the same way that firms are looking to improve efficiency in the way they undertake legal work, they must always look to improve the way they manage the business, through building the skills and strengths of those in their management teams. We usually assume that senior managers such as managing partners, chief operating officers, department or team heads are experts in their jobs, and as such need little support or guidance. But often their role is a lonely one: there is no one at the firm with whom they can talk to openly, no one they can easily share problems or ideas with. If these people, whose role in the firm is so fundamental, can be helped and supported so that they are even more effective, the impact on the firm can be as significant as that of any of the processes that are used to improve the delivery of legal work.
This is where a critical friend comes in.
In future posts we will look at;
What is a critical friend?
Who might use a critical friend?
Can critical friends support teams as well as individuals?
How might I find a critical friend?
How do I get a critical friend arrangement in place?
Richmonte Wells offers a full suite of executive individual and team development: coaching, succession planning, Board Development, Strategy and Away days, high performance team building, First 100 days and Lateral Hire Support. We also work with Senior and Managing Partners, CEOs and Practice Directors and their teams either through mentoring or Critical Friend support. If you would like to know more about Critical Friend support for you or your team, please contact Martin Griffiths.
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