Most Australasian firms do not value creativity, claims survey

By Sol Dolor, Australasian Lawyer

Most law firms in Australia and New Zealand do not value creativity as highly as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

The insight comes from the “21st Century Thinking at Australasian Law Firms” report by the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and InfoTrack, which will be released at the 2017 ALPMA Summit that runs from 13 to 15 September at the Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Centre.

When asked how highly their firms valued each of the four key 21st century learning skills identified by the P21 organisation, respondents rated communication as the most valued, with 47% saying it is “very high” and 29% rating it “high.” Collaboration was rated “very high” by 33% of respondents, while an equal number rated it as “high.”

Critical thinking is next, with 28% saying it is “very high” and 31% saying it is “high” on their firm’s priorities among the choices. Only 12% of respondents said firms value creativity very highly, while 28% said it is valued highly.

The survey also shows that 20% to 34% of firms surveyed are ambivalent to all learning skills.

A total of 114 law firms participated in the survey, with 71 indicating their firms are in Australia and 13 saying their firms are in New Zealand. There were 30 law firms that did not indicate where they are based.

“Creativity is often undervalued in law firms. By not fostering creative thinking, firms are missing the opportunity to tap into the minds of their own people, many of whom have unexplored potential,” said Andrew Barnes, ALPMA president.

John Ahern, InfoTrack’s CEO, said that the reality is that creativity drives innovation, yet there’s a divide in what firms know and what they are implementing on the ground.

“Firms are aware of this, as evidenced by the greatest benefit measure to the business being innovation, however many still see no benefit to investing in creativity,” he said. “Without innovation, firms can’t prosper in our new normal. It’s innovation that drives productivity, growth and sets you apart in the marketplace so it’s disappointing to learn that creativity is still not seen as a critical investment.”

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