BY Michael Fleming

DATE: 12 DEC 2014


One of the most interesting pieces of work I had the privilege undertaking this year was for a UK law firm. One that is taking the development of its lawyers and non lawyer support people very seriously.  They are prepared to commit time, resource and budget to some proper learning and development… You know who you are and thank you. You have been lovely to work with.

The brief was to help them improve their client feedback:  To ensure that all their clients felt loved and had the best experience possible dealing with anyone in the firm;  to have everyone- from paralegal to partner- understand what good CRM looked and felt like in practice; to be excellent at relationship management

Their Acuigen- a client survey company doubtless known to many of you- feedback was already pretty damned good but they aspired to the top mark of sevens, not sixes. I am the same myself so I liked the cut of their jib.

We started with some reverse engineering by identifying areas where clients said they felt less than dazzled.  No surprises there. Recognisable themes emerged with challenges centred around fees and costs, timescales, outcomes, legal and commercial, and actions.  I remember all of these well from my time as a practitioner and for the several years I undertook the unenviable role of Law Society nominated Client Relations Partner: The guy who took the flack when clients wanted to make a formal complaint. Ah…those were the days.

Working together we designed a one day programme in which small groups role played the difficult client interactions around these problem areas.  We wrote up a range of realistic practice area specific case studies to get us started in each session but the really useful learning came when we got them involved in some “reality practice” around actual client situations: the ones they had sitting on their desks at that moment or had just dealt with less than perfectly. Or better still scenarios they anticipated running into in the near future! Mini “vignettes” were briefly played out in front of their colleagues- literally just a few minutes, pace is all in the training room. This provided a great opportunity for everyone in the group to see how their colleagues handled the hard situations, to get a variety of ideas that they could go and use themselves immediately, to get honest, incisive feedback from me.

We topped the day off with some brainstorming around the things they could do in their dealings with clients to make the whole experience feel less transactional and more like a relationship.  I shared a dozen examples on this topic that I’ve been collecting in my work with law firms over the past few years and brought Social Styles, Emotional Intelligence traits and the like into play. In the end it’s all about behaviour.

It was hugely rewarding to work with lawyers who were genuinely interested in how they might improve their client interaction. The proof of the pudding of course will be in the number of sevens they score in the coming year, but at this point I have an image of a dapper and smiling Len Goodman holding up a big card.

Happy Christmas everyone.


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about the author

Michael Fleming is our Head of KWC Legal. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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