How often do you hear law firms say that they care about their people? A lot more often these days compared to a few years ago! Wellbeing has certainly been pushed much higher up the agenda in law firms around the world. But how many law firms really show that they care? How many treat wellbeing as a way of life rather than the latest trend? At Nexa we’re absolutely determined to ensure the wellbeing of our lawyers. It makes good business sense, of course. But more than that, it’s the right thing to do.
As the fastest growing distributed law firm in the UK, our people are all around the country (in fact we have several lawyers working internationally) and most of them work from home whether locked down or not. Even without Covid, we don’t get together as often as lawyers with predominantly office-based roles. It means that our lawyers have to work harder to stay connected and form relationships with colleagues. It also means that as a business we have to work harder to check that our people are doing ok. We know every business has had this challenge recently, but this is a challenge we face all of the time. And we’re taking it seriously!
We started by employing an external agency to call all of our lawyers personally to ask them how they’re doing. Why didn’t we do it ourselves? Because we wanted to give our people the opportunity to feedback confidentially and without feeling that they had to put on a façade. There’s still a lot of stoicism in the legal sector and we wanted to give everyone at nexa the opportunity to speak without feeling that they might be judged (they wouldn’t be, of course, but it’s all a matter of perception).
The feedback from our lawyers about their experiences of nexa was overwhelmingly positive, but some broad themes came out of these conversations around wanting to feeling more connected and wanting to feel more confident about developing a great practice within a distributed law firm. Having strong personal connections with colleagues is an important driver of how people feel, of course. So is feeling confident that you’ve made the right decision to take control of your life and your earnings as a Consultant Solicitor.
Our Business Development Manager, Matthew Dunne, supports lawyers to develop relationships with clients and colleagues and to transition into a new way of working…
“I’d encourage every business to listen to what their people are saying and to understand how they’re really feeling. We’ve had such great feedback from people about being part of nexa law, but also about how they valued the opportunity to share their thoughts with someone. We very deliberately avoided just sending out a questionnaire by email, but instead invested in giving our people the opportunity to have a confidential one-to-one conversation with another human.”
With the feedback we received from our lawyers, we developed a new role at nexa for a Personal Development and Wellbeing Adviser, and invited leading business coach Judy Salmon to work with us. Judy has worked with the leadership team at nexa to spearhead our Wellbeing Programme which kicked off with our inaugural Wellbeing Workshop, held over zoom – inevitably! The Workshop was an opportunity for nexa lawyers to get to know each other better as well as to hear and share their thoughts and feelings about life at nexa. During the session, Judy expertly guided our people to reflect on the ways in which they wanted to be supported as Consultant Solicitors and to feel able to share those ideas with the wider team.
Judy Salmon is excited to be working with nexa…
“I have worked with Magic Circle, City and Regional Firms for over 20 years. In this time, I have enjoyed designing and delivering training programmes that absolutely reflect and meet the needs of the lawyers together with one to one coaching. With this experience, I am really excited about working alongside nexa in responding to the consultants’ feedback about what support they want. I will be running a monthly workshop around personal development issues and helping with the welfare of the consultants through coaching and individual chats. I have been really impressed by how seriously the leadership team at nexa are taking the welfare and connection of their consultants and hugely look forward to being a part of their growth.”
By talking to our lawyers and understanding how they’re feeling, we’ve designed our Wellbeing Programme for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 to ensure that our lawyers feel fully supported in achieving their ambitions. Monthly Wellbeing Workshops are now a core part of our training and development programme and Judy is available for individual coaching sessions too. We’ve been really encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve had from our people about these new opportunities to connect and think about personal development.
Wellbeing isn’t just a buzzword at nexa, but a way of life. Our people chose to work at nexa because they wanted a better life away from the politics of partnership. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges with working in a distributed law firm, and we’re addressing those head on to ensure that nexa offers the best culture, choice, and commercial arrangements for lawyers seeking a better way to work.