‘Being authentic is incredibly important for success’
Good leaders are not only open and honest with their staff but are also constantly challenging themselves, according to the award-winning Lander & Rogers chief executive.
Genevieve Collins is the chief executive partner of Lander & Rogers — and was recently named Managing Partner of the Year at the recent Australian Law Awards.
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In conversation with Lawyers Weekly, Ms Collins spoke about her award win and her plans for the firm moving forward.
“I’m both humbled and proud to be recognised in this way, but I see this award as very much reflecting the successes of Lander & Rogers as a whole,” she said.
“It’s a pleasure and a privilege to lead such a talented team, each of whom plays a significant part in making our firm an exceptional experience for our people and clients.”
Whilst Ms Collins has faced a number of challenges over the course of her career, she said that being authentic with her firm has made her a better leader.
“In a partnership of equals, the leadership dynamic is complex and different to a traditional ‘command and control’ organisation. Being a law firm leader is about having a vision, bringing people together, negotiating and building consensus,” she said.
“Being authentic is incredibly important for success. You don’t need to have a specific personality type to succeed in law, and you don’t need to be an extrovert to become a leader. Being authentic and believing in yourself is what allows you to tap into your individual strengths and be the best that you can be. Your clients, colleagues and peers will recognise and respond positively to that.”
Moving forward, Lander & Rogers is focused on continuing to support its communities and the environment. In practice, Ms Collins explained that this focus translates to a variety of initiatives, including growth in strategic areas for the firm, offering clients new business models and data-driven legal solutions and continually working on their culture.
“We have a wonderful culture at the firm, and it’s something we continue to nurture by being thoughtful and deliberate in how we connect with each other and our clients, and how we treat each other in all of our interactions,” she said.
“[We are] continuing our focus on delivering an exceptional experience to our people, not just to retain or attract talent but to create a satisfied and high-performing workforce. This includes consistently re-evaluating how we maintain a team connection and social collaboration in a hybrid work environment, and how we enhance our learning and career development programs to reflect the evolving needs of our people.”
In addition, the firm is looking to continue progressing its environmental targets, as well as expanding its pro bono practice.
“Earlier this year Lander & Rogers was certified as a carbon-neutral firm by government-backed environmental initiative Climate Active. Our next milestone is to become a zero-waste firm by 2025,” Ms Collins added.
“[We’re also] expanding our pro bono practice and community engagement to deepen our work with First Nations organisations, refugees and asylum seekers, women at risk of family violence, young people facing barriers to professional career opportunities, and other community initiatives where the firm can make a real difference. I’m proud that Lander & Rogers has an award-winning pro bono practice ─ Jo Renkin, our head of pro bono, community and environment, was recently recognised at the Lawyers Weekly Partner of the Year Awards!”
The firm is also continuing to collaborate with start-ups in their LawTech Hub, in addition to partnering with Australian universities to deliver LawTech Clinics to upskill undergraduate law students in tech-driven problem-solving. This kind of innovation, Ms Collins said, is “essential” for BigLaw firms.
“Over the next year, law firms will continue to adapt and evolve in our post pandemic world. A significant focus of law firm leaders will be on maintaining and growing connection with clients and our own people in a hybrid work environment.
“People’s priorities have changed, and they are acutely aware of the impact of traditional models of working on mental health. People now want flexibility around where and how they work and a clear path for career progression. Law firms will need to consider how best to promote learning and development in a new environment, maintain connections, build trust, and allow people to manage their professional and personal responsibilities,” she said.
“ESG performance is becoming increasingly important for law firms. Our clients and communities want to see a genuine commitment from law firms, and businesses for climate action. We’ve integrated environmental priorities into our day-to-day decision making and gained a detailed appreciation of our environmental footprint.”
And in terms of becoming an award-winning leader, Ms Collins emphasised the importance of being open, understanding and authentic.
“The best advice I can give is to be authentic in yourself and your role. There are many different successful leadership styles, so it’s important to find your own. It’s also important to follow your passion and approach new opportunities with curiosity. Being a leader means constantly learning, listening, and keeping an open mind. The law is a people profession. Take the time to understand the people around you and what is important to them.
“Strong mentorship is important for all lawyers, not just those pursuing leadership positions. Learn from people who inspire you and role model the type of leader you want to be. I’ve learnt from some wonderful formal and informal mentors, who’ve helped to instill in me a strong sense of belief and trust in my abilities, which I draw on every day,” she said.
“I’m also a firm believer in Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to ‘do something every day that scares you’. For younger lawyers wanting to move into a leadership role, that could mean chairing a meeting, speaking at a conference, leading a new project, mentoring, or making a new connection. Make it a habit to push yourself out of your comfort zone, because that’s where personal and professional growth happens and leadership begins.”