Put another way, how a lawyer services his/her client can be the most important factor in terms of ongoing client relationships. Most clients place a very high value on quality legal services. I am not referring here to the outcome of a legal matter, although that certainly is important. But considering how many talented lawyers are out there, it often comes down to how good a lawyer’s reputation is for providing good service. A lawyer with a reputation for poor service often has poor people skills.
Over the years, there have been many in-house counsel panels at various legal marketing conferences. They’re usually well-attended because lawyers want to know what their clients and potential clients are saying about the services provided by law firms.
For years we have heard that clients want:
- understanding of their business;
- better communications;
- no surprises, especially when it comes to budgets;
- prompt billing;
- greater value, including customized CLE;
- current technology, especially regarding data security.
A post this week on Attorney at Work by Susan Kostal talks about what she heard from such a panel at a recent conference. She suggests lawyers “use soft skills” to become a favorite of in-house counsel. They include:
- learn what keeps them up at night;
- learn about their personal life (as appropriate);
- ask about their work routine;
- asked what their preferred manner/format for receiving updates (memo, email, telephone, etc.); and
- have a sense of humor.
I question how soft they really are, since I believe they are vital for lawyers in today’s competitive marketplace. In many cases they are as important as how smart the lawyer is.