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  • This article is part two in our three-part series focusing on how lawyers can build trusted relationships working online, or in hybrid arrangements.
  • Trust is vital in teamwork where strong ties between colleagues promote engagement, knowledge-sharing and productivity.
  • Even as teams work online or in hybrid arrangements, there are several key strategies that managers can adopt and implement to foster trust.

This article is part two of a series looking at how lawyers can build relationships of trust with clients and colleagues, particularly when working online or in hybrid (online and face-to-face) (‘FtF’) arrangements. The series draws on the 2022 Future of Law and Innovation in the Profession stream (‘FLIP’) research into the topic.

Increasingly, as with other sectors, lawyers work in teams. Some of these teams are nationally, or even globally distributed, and some are temporary. In some instances, team members have never worked together before. Generally, they may be referable to a particular practice area or matter. Sole and small firm practitioners may not work formally in a team setting, but they form teams with other professionals to conduct their work. They also form teams among themselves, as committees and groups, in order to share ideas and experiences, and pursue joint goals. Since COVID-19, all of this collaboration has occurred, in one way or another, online.

Many leaders within firms and across the profession desire a full return to the office, in part because in-person interaction among teams is seen as important. Whether or not it is put in these terms, this is because team trust, and collegial trust more broadly, can be challenged when interactions occur online. At the same time, team trust is vital to workplace success.

What is trust and why is it important in teams?

High trust teams are marked by strong interpersonal relationships. Having strong interpersonal ties improves engagement and productivity, enhances business development and facilitates the implementation of new strategies (including a virtual or remote one). Where there is high trust, there is high knowledge-sharing between members, often beyond what is formally required. This is critical for professional (knowledge-based) work.

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