Having effective communication skills as a budding lawyer is very important. Effective communication will help you foster greater trust between you and your client.
It will help you compound in terms of client satisfaction and you will gain better credibility in the long term. Below are effective communication tips every young lawyer should follow.
1. Use Definitive Language
The words you use when speaking to a client or the court have a major impact on how they will perceive you.
Be careful not to appear unsure with your points or arguments. You can start with your body language. The way you carry yourself can speak a lot about how much you know about what you are talking about. Hence, make it a habit to stand straight with your chest out. You should also smile often because this will make you look more confident.
Now, for your verbal language, make it a point to avoid unsure terms like “maybe”, “I guess”, or “it might”.
Be definite in the way you speak. A yes should be a clear yes and vice versa. By doing so, you will become more powerful, persuasive, and authoritative.
2. Listen More Than You Speak
As a lawyer, you are expected to be a spectacular speaker. But to do so, you also need to be a fantastic listener.
Oftentimes, you will be tasked with having to advise your clients on the best legal action. For that, it is important to have good listening skills.
Aside from that, actively listening will make your client more comfortable with you and be more inclined to share information that can help you with your case. It will also help avoid miscommunications with your client or at the court because you will be able to correctly understand what other people are saying.
3. Use Legal Language Sparingly
Legal language may be most relevant if you are defending someone in court or if you are conversing with another lawyer. But when speaking with a client, the best thing to do would be to speak in layman’s terms. By doing so, you will have a better chance of understanding each other.
Aside from the possible miscommunication, if you appear too formal with a client, he may become hesitant to share important details with you. Using natural language will not only clear up communication blockages but will also help you connect with your client on a deep level.
4. Be Clear And Concise
People hire lawyers because they need help with certain legal matters. The last thing you want to do is to further confuse your client with language inconsistency.
You could say one thing and then say another thing in the next minute. This may be confusing to the client. Get familiar with the case before the trial so that you can provide insight that is clear and concise. Avoid speaking your mind during a client-lawyer meeting.
5. Practice Empathy
As a lawyer, the clients you encounter will undoubtedly be under a lot of pressure. Let’s say that you had a client who had just been in a legal proceeding for the first time. This particular client could experience anxiety over the situation because he wouldn’t know what to expect. By showing empathy to the client, you will be able to help him relax which can mean two things. One; he’d be in a better mental condition to talk about the case and two; you would build rapport with the client making the entire case easier to defend.
6. Use Visual Aids
As we’ve mentioned, clients are usually under a lot of pressure. Hence, most of them probably won’t be able to process all the information through verbal communication alone.
Make it a point to bring some visual aids with you during your meeting. The visual aids could be as simple as a couple of printed images on sheets of paper. For a more effective approach, you can try bringing a Powerpoint presentation with you. The vast availability of free PowerPoint slides can make your presentation a breeze without being a chore.
You can use a SWOT analysis template for PowerPoint since it can help ground your client concerning the case. At the same time, you can use it as strategic planning for identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and points of opportunities within the case.
7. Ask For Feedback
No matter your preparation, no one is a perfect lawyer so it will be helpful to ask for feedback from a client once the case is over.
You can take note of the feedback and incorporate some course of action to improve upon it for your next client. The feedback can also be useful the next time you have a case with this particular client again.
By asking for client feedback, you will be able to understand the client on a deeper level. As a young lawyer, it might be a good idea to create client profiles so that each time you have a new client, you can refer to these profiles. It will help you create a system on how to communicate with a client based on different personalities.
Technical knowledge is greatly valued in the legal world. But technical knowledge alone won’t help you thrive in a world of already-established lawyers. What you need to boost your career is a combination of technical knowledge and effective communication skills.
By mastering these 7 communication pointers, you will be able to connect with people in a more meaningful way and then solve cases accordingly.