How Law Firms Can Understand Client Needs Better Through Quality Interactions

Better Client Understanding for Law Firms Through Quality Interactions

March 23, 2023

The legal industry is an ever-changing landscape that lawyers and law firms are continuously navigating. The need for diversification has risen over the years, placing pressure on law firms. Lawyers need to understand their clients’ needs. This will allow them to provide tailored services that meet those needs. An effective way to achieve this is through high-quality client interactions. By ensuring interactions with clients are superior, law firms will gain a deeper understanding of their clients.  This will build stronger relationships between lawyers and clients. 

Nexl conducted an interview with the acclaimed Dave Southern, Director of Marketing Communications at Mayer Brown. Southern used his expertise to explain how law firms can better understand clients through the use of quality client interactions. According to Southern, law firms should focus on two things: (1) identifying what key prospects and clients need, and (2) exploring how to position themselves to meet those key client needs better than the competition. If law firms complete these two tasks, they are guaranteed to always win. 

In this article, we’re going to unpack Southern’s advice around understanding client needs better using quality client interactions. We will answer the following questions:

1 – What are the 3 categories of client interactions?
2 – How should lawyers’ approach formal and informal interactions?
3 – What is the difference between a good question and a bad question?
4 – How legal technology can assist with these interactions?

What are the 3 categories of client interactions?

  • Status or Check-in Meetings

A status meeting is a regular check-in between a law firm and its clients. Typically, these meetings are held once a month or once a quarter, depending on the client’s needs. The purpose of these meetings is to assess the work already done for the client and what is coming up next.

First, these meetings should be used to ensure there is alignment on the objectives. These objectives are crucial to the client gaining their desired outcome. Checking in on objectives is an essential part of effective client management. By reviewing the client’s objectives and goals, law firms ensure alignment with the client’s needs and expectations. This will help identify any potential obstacles or challenges that may arise. The solutions should be co-developed by the lawyer and client to create optimal buy-in from the client. 

During interactions, the client should define their perspective efficiency. This will allow the lawyer to gage how the client feels about the work being delivered. This will furthermore solidify the alignment of the lawyer with the client. By demonstrating a commitment to understanding the client’s needs and providing tailored services, law firms can create a sense of partnership with their clients.

  • Post Matter Assessment (aka “after action review”)

A Post Matter Assessment is like a Status Meeting. However, they occur once the matter has been completed. At the end of every significant matter, it is worthwhile to hold this meeting. It gives the lawyer and the client an opportunity to reflect. Specifically on the areas executed well and the areas that require improvement. This is an honest conversation that enables the lawyer to identify any lessons learnt. It also gets the client’s sign-off on areas that were done well. 

“Until the client agrees with you, it is not necessarily truth”

Dave Southern

From these meetings comes an opportunity for the law firm to share the lessons learnt and understandings gained.  These insights are shared both the clients’ law firm and the lawyers’ law firm. By sharing these insights, the law firm showcases that they care about the development of their entire firm and its clients. A stronger relationship can be built off this which, will open growth opportunities.

  • Periodic Client Feedback

Periodic client feedback is the process of soliciting feedback from clients. This generally revolves around the client’s experience working with the law firm. This feedback can take many forms, including surveys, interviews, or informal conversations.

The importance of periodic client feedback cannot be overstated. By gathering feedback from clients, law firms can gain valuable insights. Law firms can better understand their client’s perspective and level of satisfaction. This feedback can be used to inform future business development and improve client retention.

The way a lawyer approaches these interactions must be driven by the client. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to ask the client how they want to interact and the type of interactions they prefer. Furthermore, it is important to know how regularly the client expects interaction. Essentially the lawyer must know what their clients’ expectations are for these interactions. 

Having strong interactions will encourage relationship building between the lawyer and the client. This will then lead to potential future growth opportunities with the client. 

How should lawyers approach formal and informal interactions?

During feedback interactions with clients, lawyers should approach the conversation sensitively. The lawyer must ensure they engage active listening skills throughout the conversation. It’s important to create a safe and supportive space. The client should feel comfortable expressing their concerns, feedback, and asking questions. For this reason, these interactions can be either informal or formal.

Informal interactions are usually conducted by the individuals working with and managing the client. These interactions tend to occur more regularly. Formal interactions are conducted by an independent individual or by an outside consultant. This is to ensure the conclusions drawn are non-bias.

Lawyers should approach both formal and informal interactions with professionalism and discretion. Ultimately, a lawyer’s approach to both interaction types should reflect a commitment to upholding the highest standard of ethics and professionalism.

What is the difference between a good question and a bad question?

When speaking to clients, it’s important to ask questions that elicit meaningful feedback. In law, lawyers ask two types of questions. One, open-ended questions which focus on the client’s experience and two, leading questions. Open-ended questions are designed to uncover insights that can inform future work. 

A good question however is one that develops from substantive knowledge. This means that the question being asked is relevant, concise, and meaningful. When asking questions, lawyers need to demonstrate that they have a fundamental understanding of their practice area and the client. Understanding the client means knowing their goals, objectives and current market conditions.

In summary, it is advised that lawyers approach the client with enough background and understanding. This allows them to be certain that the questions asked are relevant and thought-provoking. The aim is to show that there is an understanding of the client’s needs. The main goal is to develop a solution to match those needs. 

How legal technology can assist with these interactions?

Legal technology can be helpful in streamlining the client management process. It can also assist with creating a competitive advantage for your law firm. Nexl provides tools for legal professionals to manage client relationships, via CRM and data analytics. Nexl Revenue Operations can help law firms understand their clients’ needs better. It ensures that all interactions with clients remain superior. 

By leveraging tools, law firms can track client interactions and identify trends in client behaviour. This will provide valuable insights into their clients’ needs and preferences. This information can inform business development efforts, tailor services, and improve client retention. With Nexl, law firms can improve their client management process, and quality of client interactions.

Nexl has created a new tool that allows you to manage projects like Key Client Programs.  This can be done through the use of a customisable templates. Yes, never has creating and implementing a Client Feedback Program been this easy! 

A Client Feedback Program is the cornerstone of a client-and service-oriented culture. This program is an institutional approach to service delivery and client satisfaction. Therefore, these types of programs support law firm’s client interactions.

In conclusion, by ensuring that all client interactions are superior and gather meaningful and relevant information law firms understand their clients’ needs better. Regular status meetings, periodic client feedback, and asking good questions, are essential components of effective client management. By using legal technology, law firms can streamline their client management process. Furthermore, by demonstrating a commitment to understanding the client’s needs, law firms can build relationships with their clients for long-term success. Use these buttons below to try out Nexl’s easy-to-use, completely customisable templates.

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