Interpersonal skills are a huge part of what makes an attorney successful, learn how to utilize certain skills to take your client’s experience to another level.
The legal profession is one of the most lucrative and respected white-collar occupations around the world. That being said, to attain impressive financial compensation, aspiring lawyers also need to study hard to become competent counselors.
However, comprehensive knowledge of a particular field of law is only one-half of the equation. To become a successful legal practitioner, it is equally fundamental to become proficient at active listening and communication, also known as soft skills.
Why is Active Listening Important in Law?
Presentation is an essential part of being a lawyer. In many ways, a meeting with a potential client is akin to a formal interview. For best results, it’s prudent for a lawyer to consider themselves as an interviewee and sort out all aspects under their control such as commanding but inviting body language, well-polished soft skills, an interview outfit that exudes confidence and professionalism, and, of course, active listening skills.
The importance of the latter quality can’t be overstated as it’s vital for an interviewee to not only answer questions with poise but also strike up a meaningful conversation with the interviewer. Ultimately, listening is an often-overlooked skill that can look subtle at the outset but makes a powerful impact during a conversation. Furthermore, even if other factors are not on point, having active listening skills can compensate for it to build a solid impression.
Now that the importance of listening has been established, it’s time to explore 4 ways to improve your active listening skills.
Establish Trust Through Rapport
Before jumping into the nitty-gritty of a particular case, a lawyer must establish a strong rapport with their potential client. It is vital to instill trust in the mind of a client before they can share their problems with you, and it is equally important for you to glean all the information about the situation and ensure that your client hides nothing from you. After all, the adage of ‘never hide anything from your doctor or lawyer’ holds to this day.
A great strategy for rapport building is asking questions that are inquisitive yet not too assertive. One great example is,” Would you mind sharing your story with me?” instead of a simple “Tell me what happened.” As is evident, in the former scenario, you are asking for your client’s consent as well as details of the situation, which is a far more diplomatic approach than the latter. With this gentle line of inquiry, you can extract the intricate details of the case right at the onset.
2. Being Silent is Imperative
While speaking eloquently and confidently in the courtroom, successful lawyers also practice active listening when they are attending clients in their office. One of the best ways to practice this is by imbibing the idea of silence. Competent legal practitioners know when to speak and when to listen intently, for there lies the wealth of information you need to win a particular case. Thus, respect your client’s time and story by assuming silence and taking in every word, for it will put them at ease and will simplify the whole problem.
In certain scenarios, silence is even more imperative, such as cases about family law. As it can be an emotionally turbulent time for the client, they might fail to keep their composure in these situations. Here, the best line of action is to remain silent, let them have their moment, and extend empathy with your expression and body language, for actions speak much louder than words. Ultimately, all great lawyers follow this stoic practice and their success stories and wealth of experience are undisputed.
3. Try to Avoid Distraction While Communicating With The Client
Actively listening to a client is easier said than done, especially with so many distractions in and around the office. One of the simplest ways to improve communication is to eliminate all external distractions and stimuli such as phone notifications, email notifications on your computer, and similar electronic noises. These measures will show the client that you have their undivided attention.
Apart from removing distractions, it might still be challenging to listen intently to a conversation, especially for people who have a high intelligence quotient (IQ). The only solution to this problem is to practice mindfulness; the results will manifest gradually. Another amateur mistake lawyers make is immediately building a case around the information they are hearing instead of completely processing all the data. To ensure that you don’t miss out on some crucial details, assign value to every correspondence you have with your client.
4. Ask Open-ended Follow-up Questions
Lastly, one of the most basic communication tips also holds for the legal profession, which is asking more open-ended questions. As a legal practitioner, it’s your responsibility to skillfully extract all information about the case from your client, which is only possible with open-ended questions. Furthermore, with this tactic, the client will be able to elaborate on their previous statements so that you glean a detailed understanding of the situation.
Another noteworthy trick is to paraphrase what you are hearing and ask them if you have understood it correctly. If not, they might be willing to provide further clarification which will only aid you in helping them better.
In the end, remember that becoming a successful lawyer requires deep knowledge as well as impeccable presentation, both inside and outside the courtroom. However, by improving active listening skills, any lawyer can bolster the more human side of the profession, which can often be unpredictable and difficult to manage with mere academic knowledge.
Author’s Bio: Cinu is a Blogger who has a wide experience of delivering content on law, health, finance, real estate, and technical fields. He is a jack of all trades and always swims against the tides in terms of writing. Follow his latest work here.