Research cited by the New Yorker in a recent article has shown that “people thrive in positive and supportive spaces: they are happy and satisfied; they are motivated and optimistic, setting higher goals and working harder and longer; they are creative; they are less likely to burn out and more likely to stick with a company or project.”
Lawyers and staff at legal organizations are no exception. That’s why legal organizations that want to succeed, thrive, and flourish must invest in creating time and space for community building in the workplace. Why?
Because if the goal is for lawyers and staff to excel, do better work, and stay with the office long-term, then they need to feel connected to their colleagues, supported by their supervisors, and valued by their organization.
Attorneys and staff will do better work for the organization if they are excited about working in an actual community – an environment in which they feel they play a vital role (and aren't just a fungible workhorse). When given enough time and space in the right way, people will build connections, find commonalities, and develop supportive bonds with each other organically. They will (re)discover all the ways in which they are connected to each other, beyond just being people who happen to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (or more) in the same space working.
The current reality is that in many stressful legal workplaces, there is no time and space for community building. Culturally, it may be unacceptable to set aside time and space for coworkers and colleagues to get to know each other in meaningful ways.
But studies have shown that building these kinds of connections is key to boosting the productivity, longevity, and success of a legal organization.
So, regardless of what form it takes (whether a training, workshop, or retreat), law offices and legal organizations that want to fight burnout, employee turnover, and help their workers do better work for the office should turn their attention to community building in the workplace.
Sources and Additional Reading