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Client Connection Leading Demand from Law Firm Clients

Law firms that have been around for a while and are of a larger size often need not worry where their next clients are coming from. Smaller law firms however, do. But this often wrongly eclipses the need to constantly improve client service for current clients. A law firm of any size that accomplishes its goals has a client-centered attitude. With the client connection at its heart, a law firm will continuously look for ways to improve its communication, quality of service, and value.

Clients are used to good customer service. It is and should be the norm; but great customer service is what an outstanding law firm should provide. After all, the clients make the business. And the best way to provide excellent customer service is through client connections

Lawyers’ vs. Clients’ Top 10 Competency Rankings

According to a table from American Law Firms in Transition by Randall Kiser, lawyers have a very different idea of what makes them competent as opposed to clients.

Lawyers’ Ranking

Clients’ Ranking

Legal Expertise

Ongoing communication; keeping clients informed/updated, responding promptly, asking questions and seeking information

Honoring client confidentiality

Listening attentively

Punctuality

Responsiveness to and anticipation of client needs

Determining risk mitigation strategies

Explaining fee arrangements, providing accurate cost estimates and a clear rationale for any variance

Honoring commitments

Strategic problem solving and strong case/project management

Managing support staff

Understanding client priorities, expectations, and need for closure

Integrity and trustworthiness

Empathy and compassion

Ability to provide a disinterested assessment of a proposed deal in risk/reward terms

Respectfulness

Treating others with courtesy

Legal expertise

Ability to prepare a case for trial

Trust

There is a clear disparity between the two columns. The top six characteristics on the clients’ side all deal with the consumer relationship or customer service. Most often, clients aren’t concerned with the legal side of things, that’s what the lawyer is expected to deal with. Clients want support during what is often a difficult time, and usually aren’t as interested in legal expertise as that is quite widely available.

So how can a firm supply the demand for client connection?

The Ideal Client and their Journey

Client service begins before client intake even starts. The client must recognize that a specific law firm has the answer to their problem and choose them. The client is the driver of their own story, not the lawyer. With the focus shifted onto the client rather than the lawyer, the entire mindset of the law firm can accommodate the future success of and current connection with the client. The client’s journey as a buyer has five stages, of which a law firm must understand better in order to serve them better. The client must feel that they are seen, heard, and will be in good hands.

Awareness

The client learns more about the law firm, not necessarily with a legal need, perhaps just out of interest. How good is the advertising of the law firm, how comprehensive is the website?

Consideration

The client has a legal need and deliberates whether the law firm is a good fit for them. Are they able to get all the necessary information about the law firm?

Hiring

The client chooses the law firm, and the client-attorney relationship commences.

Engagement

The client engages with the firm.

Retention

After the legal matter is resolved, the business relationship is maintained.

Current and potential clients can be interviewed to gather data on their experience with all the above with questions such as:

  • What concern did you come to this firm with?
  • How did you look for potential solutions to your problem?
  • How did you decide on a solution?
  • What did you look for in a firm?

Client Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion

A law firm should be accessible for everyone. Online presence, client intake conduct, services offered and even the physical office where the law firm is must be for every type of customer. What does this include?

  • Non-native English speakers
  • Differently abled people (both physical, like those in a wheelchair, and mental, like those with autism)
  • People of different religions
  • People of different sexualities, genders, and ethnicities

Law firm accessibility standards should come into play when designing a better client experience for all clients.

Client Connection

Attorneys, although understandably busy, must take the time to communicate with their client. The key is not to talk at their client, but have a real conversation where the client constantly feels heard, is updated, and has all the information they need to follow proceedings and never feel lost. The client must be actively listened to and responses should be reflected on, clear, and patient.

There should be clear guidelines for client communication, such as method of communication, times, and dates. The law firm and its attorneys must be prepared in advance, and have scheduled routine communications.

Client Comprehension

Client communications and legal documents should be readable for clients, most of whom do not understand legal jargon and in many cases are not able to read at a very high level.
Clients must be able to understand what they are reading and when they are communicating with the law firm and their attorney to avoid miscommunication and improve the customer experience.

This can be done with plain language, short sentences and paragraphs, using an active voice, and making the texts easy to skim via white space and headings.

Intake, Onboarding, and Delivery

  • The client intake process can be automated. This means faster intake and faster service.
  • The client intake process should be smooth. There should be a replicable process for new clients that has simple intake forms and task lists to ensure that there is a seamless, quick start on what needs to be done.
  • Welcome package. A package with complete information, client tools, and the best method of communication.
  • Respond quickly to client concerns. Prompt communication is key, even if no solution can be offered, the client must feel comfortable and secure.
  • Prepare for initial interviews (and future ongoing communications). The first interview is pivotal in setting the tone for the rest of the relationship.

Relentlessly Improving

Asking clients for feedback, whether face to face, via a survey, or by social media, is invaluable in building and improving on the client connection.

A great law firm is constantly on the rise, and always strives for better. The law firm must always strive to find out what their clients need and how they can best deliver it.

While law is a difficult practice, being kind, patient and empathetic shouldn’t be. If you want to listen how Case Status customers are emphasizing client connections in their firm, click to watch them shares their experiences. 

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