It has been a while since our last rendezvous on the page of this column, and I am thrilled to be back in the saddle. If you have been wondering about the silence ‘From the Back Office’, rest assured, it was not a deliberate hiatus. I have however, used the pause for strategic reflection, growth, and a bit of behind-the-scenes reorganisation.
As I dust off my metaphorical legal pads and fire up my keyboards to bring you a glimpse into the dynamic world that powers the engine of our law firms, rest assured that our return marks the beginning of an exciting chapter filled with riveting stories, insightful perspectives, and an unwavering commitment to unraveling the mysteries of the back office, that is., the legal business labyrinth which includes Law Tech, Facilities Management, Procurement, Talent Management, Pricing, Financial Management, Marketing and Business development, Compensation, Ethics and Compliance, etcetera. The law firm back office, can be a maze of both a science and an art. It is not as simple or straightforward, as usually presumed.
So, what have we been up to during this radio silence? Quite a bit, but this week let us delve into the hashtag “NoGreeForAnybody” trending in the Nigerian social media space. Social media trends are dynamic, can change rapidly and can be interpreted differently. You will agree that though meaning and context behind a hashtag may be related to a particular event, movement, or sentiment that has gained traction within the online community, its interpretation can become as diverse as the people in the world wide web. “NoGreeForAnybody” has polarised the online community, and it catches my fancy. I have checked a few recent posts on Nigerian social media platforms, news articles, for some context and explanations surrounding the trend. My key understanding of the meaning of #NoGreeForAnybody is – “never say die”, rechristened by me – #NoGreeForAnyObstacle – encapsulating the tales of resilience, adaptation, pliability, bounciness and the unyielding spirit of the law firm Back Office.
The Case of the Vanishing Documents
A colleague told me about the case of the vanishing documents. In the heart of a bustling law firm, the back-office team faced an unexpected challenge that put their resilience to the test. Picture this: on a Friday afternoon, with a Monday High Court filing deadline looming, a mountain of crucial legal documents mysteriously vanished from the archives. Panic ensued, as the team realised that vital case files, research notes, and client communications had seemingly evaporated into the digital abyss. The usual response is to engage in the blame-game, but, thankfully, in the face of this digital disaster, the unyielding spirit of the back office kicked into high gear. As the clock ticked, the team got into solution mode and mobilised with a sense of purpose. With fingers flying across keyboards and phones pressed to ears, they began the arduous process of recovery – emails were scoured, backup systems were invoked, and every nook and cranny explored. What unfolded was a true tale of “never say die – #NoGreeForAnyObstacle”. Rather than succumbing to the chaos, the back-office team embraced the challenge as an opportunity to showcase their adaptability. In a matter of hours, they not only recovered the vanished documents, but also implemented additional safeguards to prevent a repeat performance of the case of vanishing documents.
The incident became a reference point within the firm, not for the mishap itself, but for the indomitable spirit displayed by the back-office warriors. Their ability to pivot, problem-solve, and emerge stronger from the chaos showcased the pliability and bounciness that should define the backbone of our legal business operations.
This tale is a reminder that in the ever-evolving world of law business, as in life, unforeseen challenges are part of the journey. It’s not the absence of obstacles that defines success, but rather the tenacity and adaptability to overcome them. The resilience displayed by the back office on that fateful Friday, serves as a testament to law firm’s professionalism and unwavering commitment to their clients. It is also a demonstration that, even the best systems can experience unexpected turbulence.
As we navigate the complexities of the legal business landscape, let this tale be a beacon of inspiration—a reminder that in the realm of law business, as in life, #NoGreeForAnyObstacle – rather be ready to bounce back from any challenge that comes your way.
The Marathon, Not the Sprint
Often as law business professionals, you find yourselves in the midst of demanding projects, while still plagued with the darning question, “is my contribution ever going to be considered material enough?” The looming deadlines, late nights, early mornings, the seeming insurmountable workload, the palpable pressure, endless stream of tasks and stress hanging thick in the air. You can weather the storm; just approach each challenge with a determined spirit. In moments of crisis, do not succumb to despair, instead, take a moment, yes, you can take a moment. Take a deep breath and gather your thoughts, rally your team, brainstorm solutions, reach out for support from other colleagues across firms. I suggest you join and get active in a professional association – (the Association of Law Firm Administrators, Nigeria – ALAN; NBA SBL, NBA SLP) and you will see seeming setbacks transformed into opportunities for collaboration, learning and innovation. Resilience is best practiced in collaboration with others.
As we progress in this brand-New Year, be prepared to encounter more obstacles – tight deadlines, unforeseen changes, and moments of uncertainty. Obstacles are global, but our society particularly abounds with many of these complications. To get ahead, we cannot remain fixated on the impediments. Remember the proverbial prayer for the successful, “may your road be rough”, meaning, you will go through experiences that will develop your character. The challenges will hopefully help us value, and know how to replicate and keep our success.
Let each challenge become a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. Let our resilience shine through as we maintain positive attitudes learned from setbacks, and adapted to our evolving business landscape. The true turning point comes when the projects are successfully completed, and with a level of excellence. You have then exercised a muscle through pain and practice and have been made stronger. It will be ludicrous to imagine that the workplace comes without wars and that laurels are obtained without loops. I am reminded of the classic rock band, Black Sabbath’s 70’s hit Never Say Die – “People going nowhere, taken for a ride; Looking for the answers that they know inside; Searching for a reason, looking for a rhyme; Oh, don’t you ever, don’t ever say die; Never, never, never say die again… Panic, silver lining, writings on the wall; Children get together, you can save us all; Future’s on the corner, throwing us a die; Slow down, turn around, everything’s fine”.
Reflecting on past experiences, I realise that resilience in the workplace is not about avoiding challenges, but about expecting them and embracing them as opportunities for learning and growth. A slight shift in my mindset has been helpful, – no one bad experience(s) should completely define your reality as your career journey is a marathon not a sprint. The marathon mentality is key to navigating the ever-changing landscape of the workplace, turning challenges into triumphs one step at a time. Resilience is not about being invincible but about bouncing back from adversity, learning from experiences, and continuing in your journey with newfound strength. So, it is important to stay malleable, maintaining a collaborative mindset, and viewing setbacks as temporary detours rather than roadblocks. #NoGreeForAnyObstacle. Jump am pass.