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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Building Rapport

 

As an in-house lawyer, you know that building strong relationships is essential to success. We need the legal team to be the first place the business goes, not a team that is avoided, or included as a last resort. Building strong connections with clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders is vital for fostering trust, loyalty, and collaboration.



In this article, we will explore some strategies for building rapport within your business. We will also discuss why building rapport is essential, and how it can benefit you and your business in the long run.  



Why building rapport is important



Building rapport involves establishing a connection with another person, based on mutual trust and respect. When you have a good rapport with someone, you will become more approachable, you can communicate more effectively, there are less chances for miscommunication or misunderstandings, you can collaborate more seamlessly, and resolve conflicts more easily. 



Lawyers do tend to have a bit of a reputation, but we know that for the most part that is unwarranted. It’s important to show who we are as people so that the legal team isn’t seen as this scary beast that just says no. Building rapport is essential for creating a positive workplace culture, where people feel valued, accepted, and respected. 



Building rapport in your workplace can help: 

  • build trust with clients, colleagues and stakeholders; 
  • encourage stakeholders to loop you into conversations and approach you with questions at the outset; 
  • foster loyalty which is more likely to contribute to team members and stakeholders being engaged;
  • improve communication; 
  • increase collaboration and understanding of the bigger picture not just isolated parts of the puzzle; 
  • reduce clients, colleagues and stakeholders working silos;
  • increase awareness of commercial factors that underpin business decisions;
  • implement a structured approach to problem solving and achieving an outcome suitable for the business;   
  • with your ability to see things through your stakeholders’ lens;  
  • reduce conflict as a result of a professional relationship built on mutual trust and respect; 
  • with evaluating your current approach and identifying strategies that will enhance relationships and build trust. 

Strategies for building rapport within your business



The following strategies could assist in building effective business relationships:

  • being present and attentive;
  • listening actively; 
  • finding common grounds and identifying how the other person likes to work and make connections;
  • if working remotely, allowing extra time at the start of the meeting agenda to have a general chat; 
  • if working in the office, going for coffee, implementing walking meetings, organising lunches, meet and greets with new starters and team building exercises; 
  • showing empathy;
  • following up and being proactive;  
  • being clear about expectations and communicate when timelines cannot be met; 
  • showing you understand your client, colleague or stakeholders’ motivations; 
  • avoiding legalese and tailoring your communication to your audience; 
  • offering tailored training or information sessions to educate the business and provide an insight into the legal team’s day to day and pressure points. 

Building effective business relationships is a critical skill for any in-house lawyer who wants to have a positive impact. Communicating clearly, setting expectations and seeing things through your stakeholders’ lens are key to establishing strong connections and a reputation of reliability and credibility.  

Article by: Dashani Siva, Legal Counsel, San Churro and Kate Sherburn, Legal Beagle (Senior Legal Counsel), Who Gives a Crap, members of the Sole Legal Officer Special Interest Group

 

Sole Legal Officer logo

The Sole Legal Officer (SLO) Special Interest Group (SIG), colloquially referred to as ‘YOLO’ (you’re the only legal officer), is a network designed to be a place where lawyers who are the sole in-house counsel for their organisation can gain additional support, benefit from tailored learning opportunities and have the opportunity to acquire knowledge from, and network with, other lawyers who are in a similar position. If you are interested in participating in the special interest group or contributing ideas, please contact Kellie Floyd k.floyd@accglobal.com

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