Listening is one of the most important skills for any lawyer that hopes of having a long and successful legal career.
As a successful lawyer and law firm owner, leading and directing probably comes naturally, but for some, listening has become a neglected skill. Perhaps it’s because we’re all running in high gear, productivity is paramount, and we simply don’t take the time to slow down and truly hear what’s going on around us.
For any lawyer, this can be a very dangerous situation, because it could mean missing out on vital cues that impact performance, and even your own effectiveness and the growth of your practice.
There’s immense value in listening to those around you, especially in today’s climate. And it is crucial that you master this skill if you hope to have a long and successful legal career. Here are six reasons becoming a better listener should be on your to-do list.
1. Build trust with employees.
Listening to and acting on the feedback you receive shows employees you care about what they have to say. This sets the tone that if they come to you with issues or concerns, they’ll be heard, taken seriously, and addressed appropriately.
A great way to start this process is to provide them with different feedback tools, including employee surveys, or ask the team to submit questions that you can answer via a Q&A email or if your firm is smaller then you can respond 1-on-1. For any solo or small law firm to succeed it’s important to show your team that you’re listening, willing to answer their questions, and value their opinion.
2. Connect better.
The best lawyers and law firm owners are also great listeners that show vulnerability and demonstrate that they’re human, not just the lawyer or boss. This means that they aren’t afraid to bring up tough topics or to lead the conversation. This creates common ground, unites teams, and encourages everyone from your clients to your team members to listen up.
3. Shows empathy.
This is a particularly important thing for lawyers to remember. Taking the time to truly understand someone’s needs and concerns builds empathy and shows that you care about them as individuals, not staff members or clients. A great way to build empathy and listen is to go on 1-on-1 lunches with someone to build empathy.
These types of meetings allow you to focus on one individual at a time so you can focus on them and let them know they have your full attention.
4. Show clients, they’re valued.
Today people are not looking for the lawyer with the nicest suit or fastest car. They’re looking for transparency, trust, and workplaces where they feel safe and valued, even more so after the pandemic.
Listening intently sends the message you appreciate your clients. This is especially important in the face of uncertainty because if you give off the impression that you not listening to their legal matter intently then you’re not only going to lose their business but you could find yourself swimming in negative reviews at the same time.
5. Get a new perspective.
No matter what, everyone is going to have a first impression of you, your personal brand, and your law firm. And the only people who can tell you about that are your clients, you cant know with 100% certainty what that image is without asking them. Gaining an outside perspective from your clients can help drive innovation.
Spending time to get to what their thoughts will let you know if you need to change/update your brand and learn what you should change in order to attract and impress more potential clients in the future.
6. Improving your client’s experience.
Listening is the most powerful tool you have in the pursuit of improving your client’s experience while working with your firm. At the end of the client relationship, you absolutely need to ask for their thoughts about their experience. The closer you can ask this towards the end of the relationship, the better, this way the whole relationship will be fresh in their mind.
Reading these surveys individually is critical because everyone is going to have different experiences and opinions. This helps you to be more prepared for more types of clients and situations in the future.
Engaging in meaningful conversations is one of the most important roles and responsibilities for any lawyer that hopes of having a long and successful legal career.