Lawyers often have mental checklists of what they need to be a good lawyer. Some of the traits include:
- Legal Knowledge
- Public Speaking Skills
- Research Skills
While these more technical traits are vitally important for any lawyer’s success, our years of court reporting have taught us that one trait makes the most successful lawyers stand out: client relations. Being a client-focused lawyer may be the most difficult trait for lawyers to master. Lawyers often spend so much time in school learning the technical knowledge, that they don’t think about how the importance of positive interpersonal relations between themselves and their clients. Here are some tips to stay focused on your clients.
1. Listen to Your Clients’ Needs
Lawyers often have the reputation of being “know-it-all’s”. They have garnered this reputation by not paying attention to the needs of their clients before offering their opinion. Active listening is a difficult trait for anyone to master. Whenever you are talking to your clients, make sure that there are no distractions in the room. Sit and listen to everything that your clients say and paraphrase it back to ensure that both parties are on the same page. Sit and listen to everything that your clients say. Really think about your response before you offer it.
2. Be Open With Your Client
If you are vulnerable and open with your client, they will be much more willing to reciprocate. As their lawyer, you need to have a complete understanding of their situation, and you need to be making informed decisions. Don’t hesitate to ask your client questions about the case. If your client asks you a question and you don’t feel confident in an answer, be honest with them. Tell them that you need to do research before you give them a response.
3. Use Jargon Sparingly
This tip really does not apply to depositions or court where jargon is necessary. However, when you are relating to your client one-on-one, try to use jargon as infrequently as possible. Remember that your clients have not gone through the years of law school that you have, meaning that they will not understand what all the legal jargon means. Try to use synonyms for the more difficult words and be sure to define specific phrases whenever you use them.
4. Take the Time to Be With Your Client
Lawyers often fill up their day with things that other people in their law firm can handle. This not adds to their stress, but it uses up their valuable time. If you notice that you find that it is difficult to spend time with your clients because you are handling tasks like finding a court reporter or making sure the court reporter is court-approved, it may be time to delegate tasks. Your clients are the most important assets you have and they need to take precedence over other matters
Pay attention to your clients throughout your court case. Make sure that they feel confident and comfortable with you throughout the legal process.