The Client-Centered Law Firm

There is no rulebook for law firms that want to attract clients. But if there was, then shifting to a client-centered law firm would be the first chapter, if not the whole book!

In other industries, poor product-market fit drives services to adapt to meet consumer demand. However, the legal industry differs slightly for a multitude of reasons.

In the face of this, we can see now more than ever, that clients are exercising their power in this restricted market by choosing law firms that put them first.

 

Why a Client-Centered Law Firm?

Consumers have become increasingly savvier due to the internet. Clients of law firms are those same consumers that leave reviews, read others’ reviews, and google things before making choices.

In addition to this, the pandemic has disrupted assumptions of the client experience. Clients are now used to cloud-based service deliveries, from online shopping, streaming services, and even doctors’ appointments.

All this means that law firms that want to stay competitive should consider a more client-centered approach. This does not mean lawyers will be worse off, in fact, the opposite is true.

When a client-focused approach is taken, lawyers can realign their definition of ‘success’ to mean that of the clients’. This may be more conducive to intrinsic motivation and workplace satisfaction.

Advantages of a Client-Centered Law Firm

More responsive to change

It is easier for firms to adapt to changes in society, when the firm is focused on what clients want. When external factors impact demand, (such as a global pandemic!), a client-focused law firm is more attentive and quick to react.

Increased repeat business

Showing care and having attention to detail can improve customer relationships. Even if the outcome of the legal matter is not ideal, lawyers can still make clients feel validated and cared for during the legal process. A 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25% to 95%, as repeat customers cost less than acquiring new customers.

Greater workplace satisfaction

The wellbeing of lawyers can be improved with lawyers experiencing greater workplace satisfaction. Good reviews and fewer fee disputes and complaints can make lawyers feel their work is more valuable to society. This can have a cyclical effect, as increased wellbeing and intrinsic motivation leads to more productiveness and positive outcomes.

Disadvantages of a lawyer-centered law firm

Reduction in perceived value of lawyers

The role of lawyers is to help individuals navigate the legal system. A lawyer-focused approach focuses more on internal processes and issues. This can decrease the perceived value of lawyers in society.

The billable hour is sovereign

A lawyer’s self-worth and satisfaction can become bound to the billable hour. This shifts the overall focus away from satisfying clients and solving problems to maximizing billable hours for the law firm.

Power imbalance

Legal service providers are one of the few service providers who cannot guarantee their customers with a particular outcome. Clients are also unaware of exactly how much they will end up paying until after the retainer ends.

5 Tips to Achieve a Client-Centered Law Firm

1. Remember that the Legal Industry Exists to Serve

Clients are the key to success. Focus on creating a great customer experience and show clients that your law firm cares about them.

When your clients are in need, your law firm should be front of mind as an effective and caring supporter. In fact, 1 in 3 customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.

2. The Halo Effect: Leverage Technology

Law firms should avoid the risk of looking archaic or outdated. Leveraging technology can create a positive halo effect around other areas of your law firm, and the opposite is also true. So, if clients are shown that the law firm is using top-of-the-line technology, they may perceive that the rest of their services are of better quality and efficiency.

3. Be Transparent, Communicate Well

Consumers of today highly value transparency and communication. In fact, 90% of consumers state that transparency is a key factor in their decision making.

Law firms can be transparent outside of cost-breakdowns and invoices. Instead, law firms increase meaningful communications with clients throughout the progression of the client’s matter. Updates and explanations of the legal process can make clients feel their being included in the process and decrease chances of misunderstandings.  

4. Don’t Waste Your Time

Make processes easier for your law firm. This will leave lawyers with more time to complete purposeful work and can decrease chances of burnout and workplace stress.

Law firms should automate as much work as they can. Using cloud-based technology such as practice management systems and phone systems can save hours a day. Instead of tracking time and logging calls manually, a cloud-based phone system can gather this information and record it in your law firm’s software system for you.

5. Show Clients that You’re Not Wasting Their Time

Showing clients that you’re automating work and saving time is just as important as the time actually saved.

Law firms can show their clients they are working efficiently with software such as e-billing and smart phone systems. A smart phone system will display your chosen name when you make calls to your clients, even if they have not saved your number in their phone. It will make it make easier to make sure your client’s calls never go unanswered or unaddressed, and to show efficiency in communications.

Future-proof Your Law Firm

Savvier consumers and shifting attitudes means law firms that take a client-centered approach are likely to be better off. Clients are better at exercising their purchasing power to achieve greater product-market fit.

Get clients to choose your law firm, by shifting to a client-focused approach.

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