Good client relationships are vital for every law firm – clients want to feel that their call is important to you, that you understand their perspective, and that you have their business’ best interests at the heart of everything you do for them.
Managing client relationships with competence will mean you are more likely to avoid client dissatisfaction while also retaining existing clients, and improving your chances of gaining new ones.
Effectively dealing with clients, who may have vastly differing requirements, entails the use of soft skills that aren’t taught in law school such as, good time management, effective and clear communication, understanding behavioural styles, an awareness of cultural difference, and the ability to deal with conflict under pressure.
Technical legal skills are taught to everyone, but the ability to manage key relationships within a law firm, be they clients, partners or colleagues, is a skill that must be learnt ‘on the job’.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn these skills at any point in your career.
Training courses are a perfect way to enhance your skill set and can help to improve confidence, acquire specific expertise in new areas, or learn how to manage relationships with ease.
The following tips are taken from the ‘Managing Successful Client Relationships for Lawyers’ training course that we run here at Creative Word Training.
1. Behaviour Analysis
The practice of law often requires interaction with people from every walk of life and many cultures so understanding the behaviour of both yourself, and others, is vital to managing relationships effectively.
Using the DISC (Dominant, Influential, Supportive, and Compliant) profiling system taught on our course will ensure you are able to communicate effectively and interact efficiently.
Most of us find that we use all four of the DISC traits but we tend to use 1 or 2 of them most frequently. The following points will help you decide which you use and what others around you are using.
D – Dominant – the fast-thinking, quick acting, and results orientated person will get you what you want, fast. However, don’t try to micro-manage them or give them too much information as they’re happier to make their own judgement and will always do things their own way.
I – Influential – the energetic, friendly, people-person that thrives on interaction will respond best to humour, light-heartedness, minimal details and an upbeat manner. Don’t be too serious but let them know they’re valued.
S – Supportive – the loyal, dependable team player that prefers continuity and stability, and will provide the same in response. They prefer detailed descriptions, explicit methodology and organisation but are reliable and steadfast. They should be approached with warmth and sincerity so always follow-up on time and keep to agreements.
C – Compliant – analytical and detail orientated the compliant individual will require every minute detail in order to feel they are performing to the best of their ability. They appreciate specifics and knowledge, and have high standards for themselves and others. Excellent at problem solving, they are often creative and systematic.
Understanding the categories above will help you to know yourself better and improve your interactions with those around you.
By considering which behavioural style someone predominantly displays allows you to alter your own character to fit with their expectations and needs so that a mutually beneficial situation can follow.
2. Cultural Awareness
Acquiring an awareness of cultural dimensions within relationships will allow you to appreciate other’s perspectives, understand social values and cultural norms, while increasing efficiency and reducing frustrations within working relationships.
When moving from one culture to another, for instance, to work in another country, there are often cultural expectations that should be understood and adhered to, especially for those working within the legal sector.
When considering cultural elements within relationships the following points should be factored into all meetings, calls, and working relationships:
• Etiquette – both in a business and social sense, etiquette is vital in creating and maintaining good relationships. Learn how other cultures expect you to behave in certain situations and show you respect their culture by abiding to these ‘rules’.
• Speak clearly and slowly – ensure everyone understands what you are saying by speaking with clarity and proper pronunciation. Give listeners time to interpret what you’ve said and be patient while they form their response, especially if they’re replying in a language that isn’t their native language.
• Humour, idioms and phrases – tend to be colloquial in nature so it is often easier to avoid these as misunderstandings can easily follow.
• Adapt to fit – adjust your behaviour, tone of voice, and body language to fit with those around you so that they feel more comfortable, safe and relaxed. This encourages them to be more forthcoming and open.
Training courses are often the perfect way to improve cultural awareness as they can be tailored to specific cultures. If you know in advance you are likely to work with others from a certain region then doing your homework ahead of time will reap you rewards.
There are many more aspects to our ‘Managing Successful Client Relationships for Lawyers’ course, covering topics such as, how to improve your client service skills and understanding how to pitch to differing client expectations, so if you need more advice click here to see the course overview and how to book.
Alternatively, you can contact us with any questions you might have about our legal training courses.