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Building Team Culture in a Virtual Immigration Law Firm

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Tue May 24 2022 6 min read

Running a fully or even partially remote immigration law firm opens up possibilities in terms of prospective clients, the ability to work from anywhere, and finding employees with a variety of experiences and personalities that may live anywhere in the U.S. or the world

Technology has indeed paved the way to building successful, remote-first law firms that have not only survived COVID-19, but have thrived. Nevertheless, building a cohesive team and culture takes time and effort, and having a remote team does add an additional layer of challenge.

So while there are a number of virtual team-building activities and platforms you can use to have fun with your remote staff, this article dives into somewhat more organized ways you and your law firm can build company culture in a way that builds bonds between coworkers, brings transparency into the firm, and creates room for growth and professional development.

Three ways to build workplace culture in your virtual immigration law firm

These suggestions focus on organized activities that can lead to long-term teamwork and professional development, establishing a pattern of open communication, supporting team members’ strengths, and sharing knowledge to elevate the work of all team members.

Let’s dive in.

  1. Set up a daily or weekly “standup meeting”

A standup meeting is an opportunity for an informal catch-up with all team members, so that everyone has a general idea of the tasks other team members are working on and what’s ahead. This isn’t so much to assess anyone or do a performance review, but to help everyone understand the direction in which your firm’s caseload is taking everyone, any possible challenges, and how others can help. 

What are some of the features of standup meetings that make them effective? 

  • Goals are clearly defined for each meeting and teams stick to the established goals. In standup meetings, honoring everyone’s time by keeping conversations on topic is important to ensure team members remain engaged and committed to keep the meeting useful and relevant. 
  • Someone is always in charge of the meeting. Depending on the size of your team, you may want to invite others to lead (this also encourages the development of leadership skills among different team members). This person is also responsible for ensuring goals are met and next steps are established before the meeting is over. 
  • Standup meetings are typically 15 minutes or less, depending on the size of the team. You may want to have a team member play the role of timekeeper to ensure there is enough time for everyone to speak, and set up estimated times of discussion for each talking point in the meeting agenda, which sets up expectations to how much or how little time will be devoted to discussions.
  • Finally, while standing is encouraged during standup meetings, of course not everyone is able to. The reason these meetings require standing is because it helps keep meetings short (no one wants to stand for too long). Thus, with that in mind, if there are team members that aren’t able to stand, that’s OK - as long as the meeting is concise and efficient, the goal of the meeting is met.

Another important aspect of creating a workplace culture is for team members to understand each other. A professionally-led personality assessment can be a great way for each team member to possibly learn things about themselves they may have not considered, and of course, learn from each other by finding common character traits, complementary character traits for collaboration, and so forth.

  1. Gain insight using the Myers-Briggs personality test

The Myers-Briggs personality test is the simplest way to take advantage of what you can learn about yourself and your team’s personalities in order to embrace your understanding of your team members' strengths and learn about each others’ differences from a place of cooperation and respect. The test focuses on helping takers identify their personal preferences in four areas: 

  • How they direct and receive energy
  • How they take in information
  • How they decide and come to conclusions
  • How they approach the outside world

This is a one-time event that can lead to great reflective conversations down the road. The goal of the Myers-Briggs personality test is to help companies and individuals better develop leadership and professional skills in order to develop the firm’s talent in a way that aligns with business goals while enabling team members to support each other along the way.

And of course, the more team members know about one another, the better they can work together, the more they can get done, and thus the stronger the firm’s culture.

The Myers-Briggs Company offers leadership development options you can run independently, with support from a facilitator, or delegate to a trained facilitator entirely. Training can be delivered in-person or virtually and training includes topics covering inclusivity in the workplace, leadership development, and problem-solving skills, among other topics in addition to the administration of the test itself.

You can purchase the test online for $49.95 on the Myers-Briggs website, a great idea for new team members as part of their onboarding process. You can engage the organization for a more hands-on workshop too.

Lastly, let’s look at reverse-mentoring programs, an idea born from the desire to help junior employees leverage their observations about the workplace and share that knowledge with more senior employees. 

  1. Create a reverse-mentoring program

Harvard Business Review put it this way: reverse mentoring programs “pair younger employees with executive team members to mentor them in various topics of strategic and cultural relevance.”

Originally designed at General Electric to help senior executives learn how to use the Internet, the goal of reverse mentoring programs is to help companies become more competitive by becoming or staying culturally relevant, and as a consequence, retaining young talent by playing to their strengths and connections to more recent events, platforms, and tools. 

For example, one of your junior staff that is more familiar with CRMs can reverse mentor a senior member of your team who doesn’t felt as comfortable using an immigration case management or CRM to show them shortcuts or new ways of doing things. Or if a senior team member is accustomed to sending emails to a client, a reverse mentoring practice could lead to a more junior employee introducing a messaging platform like Slack to the firm, where the client can directly interact with firm team members without setting up phone calls or writing emails.

But reverse mentoring programs go beyond pairing younger staff with more senior members to help them use technology. In addition to these more hands-on matters, reverse mentoring programs can also focus on personal development for professional growth, and understanding the current cultural environment.

In immigration, the latter is incredibly important, as immigration lawyers serve clients across multiple generations, who have developed different cultural constructs, have different priorities and reasons to immigrate, different understandings of the immigration process, etc.

For example, if you are a senior member or managing partner of an immigration law firm, and you want to start providing services to DACA recipients (who are implicitly younger), but are unsure of how to reach out these potential clients, you could have a younger team member at your firm your staff support you in developing short form content for social media to educate your target audience on their options and current updates on the law. 

Enhance your immigration law firm’s processes with Docketwise

Whether your firm’s team is a well-oiled machine, or you’re still in the “getting to know each other” phase, Docketwise is the case and form management platform for you. With Docketwise, you can streamline your immigration casework so you can focus on what’s most important: ensuring every step of your client’s immigration timeline is successfully completed. 

From a full library of immigration forms to client questionnaires in multiple languages to an industry-leading set of API integrations, we help you stay up to date on all your cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your firm.

If you want to learn more about Docketwise, schedule a demo at the link below, or sign up for our Immigration Briefings newsletter for daily and weekly immigration updates!

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