It's difficult to see a client's perspective as a lawyer when you are on the other side of the case and have worked with countless similar cases. Because of this, lawyers can be blind to what clients truly want from their lawyers. Keep reading to find out.
Before we dive into what clients want and expect from their lawyers, we must discuss misconceptions lawyers hold about what clients think is important. First, any type of bulleted list of "resume stats." What I mean by that is what law school you went to and your miscellaneous awards. Don’t get me wrong, if you have them, then include them on your website, but know that it plays a small factor in client conversions. Clients also don't care about how "aggressive" you are, or how you are willing to "fight" for them. Not many wish to have conflict in their personal lives and this approach is not over overdone, but it many cases, it's not helpful to the client.
All right. Let's discuss what clients really want from their lawyers.
First and foremost, your client needs to trust you. I'm sure you know this because if I went to your website right now I would probably see the words "honest" or "trustworthy" in big, bold letters. Quite frankly, it's become overdone, and calling yourself trustworthy doesn't make it true.
Because of harsh (and sometimes true) stereotypes of lawyers, obtaining a client’s trust can feel like an uphill battle. This can cause severe frustration and may even lead to burnout if a lawyer continually feels the need to prove one’s worth as a human.
Fortunately, you can begin building trust with your clients before you are hired. Giving people free information through free books and reports is a powerful trust builder (in addition to being a powerful lead generation tool).
By providing a simple explanation of the legal process (as in, no legalese), you are building credibility and trust. You want the reader to be informed about the challenge they are facing and be able to make the best decision for themselves, even if that decision doesn’t include hiring you.
Creating a free offer does much, much more than build trust between you and the reader. Click here to discover all of the benefits free offers has to offer.
Understanding and Empathy
People don’t typically seek legal services because something good happened to them. Whether they have found themselves in legal trouble, are seriously injured from a car accident, or are going through a nasty divorce and fighting over custody, your client has had a potentially life-altering event happen to them that may negatively shape the rest of their lives. People who are facing hardships deserve a law firm that treats them as a person and not as a point on the datasheet.
Clients simply want you to show genuine empathy and understanding. Unfortunately, because the legal profession is seen unfavorably in the public’s eye, you must work even harder to uphold your authenticity and disprove stereotypes and misconceptions of lawyers.
You would be astounded how much your client’s value being shown empathy, validation, and understand. By listening and being understanding, you are already providing relief and creating a happy client.
Quick disclaimer: while it is important to be understanding with your clients who are going through hardships, that does not mean that your clients can be berating or disrespectful to you or your team.
Consistent and Clear Communication
A common complaint about lawyers from their clients is that the client felt ill-informed about the status of the case and had little to no control over any decision-making in the case. Your clients should never have to call your law firm to inquire about the status of their case. If they are doing that, then you are not reaching out enough. The more expertise and experience a lawyer has in a practice area, the more likely he or she is to gloss over procedures and common results for a case.
Communication does not stop after the case is settled. A happy client becomes a raving fan and a potential referral source, so it's important to always remain in contact with your past clients. You can do that in a few ways:
- Keep them on your newsletter list.
- Send them holiday cards/emails.
- Send a card/email six months past the case closing to check up.
- Encourage them to follow the law firm's social media accounts.
- And more!
Their Legal Problem to be Solved
This may seem obvious, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that our client's goal may not be our goal, and a favorable outcome does not always mean to receive a substantial settlement. You and your client may have a different idea of what a “good result” is for the case. This is why it’s crucial to have clear communication with your client and understand his or her goals entirely so you can work towards the fair results that your client desires. Of course, if what the client wants is not the fairest outcome for them, then it is your responsibility to guide them in the right direction.
It is essential to build a foundation of trust and understanding with your clients. With a strong lawyer-client relationship, your client will know that your suggestions come from a place of respect and authentic guidance, and not with your own interest at heart.
In summary, clients wanted to be treated like human beings. They want to be shown empathy and respect, and they want to know that they are in control of their case and that their needs are being heard. By truly listening and having open and honest communication with your client, you will both be happy with the outcome.