New Zealand Law Society - Creativity not highly valued by law firms

Creativity not highly valued by law firms

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Creativity is not as highly valued by New Zealand and Australian law firms as critical thinking, communication or collaboration, according to research by the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and InfoTrack.

The ALPMA/InfoTrack 21st Century Thinking at Australasian Law Firmsresearch was released at the ALPMA Summit in Brisbane this week. The research looked at how well New Zealand and Australian law firms are embracing the 21st century learning skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, as defined by the P21 organisation.

“These are skills for today, and indeed tomorrow,” says ALPMA president Andrew Barnes. “Embracing these skills will ensure firms are able to successfully transform the way they think and work – essential if they want to thrive in a turbulent legal landscape.”

More than 100 firms from both sides of the Tasman participated in the research, which shows that while most firms placed a high value on communication, collaboration and critical thinking, few firms strongly valued creativity.

The standard approach to fostering creativity was to ask for staff suggestions – a move adopted by 86% of respondents, but only 21% of those respondents thought this was highly effective in terms of delivering results.

Other strategies to boost creativity included identifying new initiatives as part of a firm’s strategic planning process, creating teams dedicated to innovation and running innovation workshops. However, the research showed that law firms are not measuring their efforts at improvement. “Nor do they typically reward or recognise staff who demonstrate these skills in their everyday work,” Mr Barnes says.

The research found that efforts to improve communication had the biggest impact on motivation. Eighty-three percent of respondents used internal meetings to improve communication, with just 72% of those respondents finding this was an effective or highly effective strategy. Creating new roles or teams was another tool used to improve communication – undertaken by 58% of respondents, with 85% of those respondents rating this an effective or highly effective move.

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