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Lockdowns highlighted need for collaborative lawyering

In a post-pandemic market, operating in a collaborative fashion, rather than an adversarial one, will be much more conducive to the times, argues one principal and award winner. 

user iconKeonia Cole 14 September 2022 NewLaw
Lockdowns highlighted need for collaborative lawyering
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Marianne Marchesi, the founder and managing principal of Legalite and this year’s Competition, Trade, and Regulation Partner of the Year winner at the Partner of the Year Awards, spoke with Lawyers Weekly about the need for collaborative rather than combative and adversarial approaches to legal practice. 

Ms Marchesi founded the firm in early 2017 in response to wanting to do things differently and to disrupt the status quo. “As lawyers, we are often taught to have a competitive mindset. Working collaboratively requires a different mindset entirely. It’s about togetherness — whether that’s pooling resources, brainstorming solutions or working towards a common goal,” she said. 


She added: “I think lockdowns highlighted our need for human connection — which, at its heart, is what collaboration is really about.”

When asked if there are any things that lawyers should not do, in determining how best to be collaborative, Ms Marchesi responded that in order to be truly collaborative, lawyers must discard outdated thinking and keep an open mind. 

“Leaders in law firms need to model collaborative behaviour to be able to invite collaboration amongst their teams. This demands a mindset shift. Having open plan offices and other physical structures that are designed to invite collaboration will only go so far — what’s really needed is an approach that harnesses and teaches collaborative skills,” she advised. 

Much of the concept came from her own experience after changes to a major piece of franchising regulation were introduced in mid-2021, Ms Marchesi worked closely with industry connections, including her competitors, to navigate the changes, work through and even debate their interpretations. 

“This meant we were truly able to advocate for and advise our clients in the midst of what was a very confusing time for them. Knowing that I can give my clients peace of mind and offer true value is what collaboration, and being a lawyer, is about,” she said. 

Ms Marchesi concluded by offering three tips to advise what constitutes best practice when it comes to collaborative working. “The first step is to eliminate roadblocks to collaboration such as silos and red tape,” she continued. “Second, it’s critical to bring varied viewpoints to the table, including (or especially) people who will be affected by the job, such as your team and clients. Third, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Working collaboratively entails testing the outcome, soliciting input, and being adaptable enough to make changes as needed.”