At Global Business Culture, we work with many of the world’s great law firms and have been involved at close quarters with the globalisation process that has taken place in the legal sector over the past decade or more. Many of the law firm we work with have morphed from UK-centric or US-centric firms with maybe one or two international offices into legal behemoths with operations on every continent.
Most of the cultural awareness training work we have done for law firms over the years has been with partners and associates – this is understandable as they are at the cutting edge dealing with clients, colleagues and other stakeholders across multiple jurisdictions.
However, we are increasingly being asked to run global cultural fluency training programmes for the support staff who work with the lawyers. Gone are the days when lawyers and support staff were seen as separate beasts with little in common. Progressive law firms now value their support staff as highly as they do their lawyers as they recognise the critical role they play in the effective delivery of great service to great clients.
Yesterday saw me running a programme ‘Working in a global law firm – the cultural perspective’ with a group of support staff from a variety of organisational functions at Pinsent Masons’ London office. Although there was a preponderance of BD executives in the group, we also had people from Finance, Project Management, Document Production and HR.
Why should law firms invest in cultural awareness development for support staff? Because they are very often at the sharp end when new policies and processes are being rolled out across the firm and they are usually required to be involved in those developments on a global scale.