The Bellwether Report 2015: The Age of the Client has irrefutably determined that clients’ perception is in fact lawyers’ reality. This report has uncovered what we have all guessed as being true for a very long time. Fundamentally, many lawyers still don’t appreciate that it’s not quality of law that clients are after, but quality of service. The former is a given.
The paradox in perception of service levels between lawyers and clients – 80% of lawyers think they deliver above average service, but only 40% clients agree – also throws up a much broader disconnect in the relationship between legal professional services providers and a new group of tech savvy, informed and discerning client. With no dearth of legal professional services providers, easily accessible information due to the ubiquity of the internet, a plethora of DIY style legal tools and a structural change in the way people consume services; clients are no longer beholden to law firms. Herein lies the crux – typically referred to as ‘clients’ they are in fact ‘customers’ of legal services providers. The power resides squarely with these agile customers – who will spontaneously take their custom elsewhere if a law firm doesn’t deliver against expectation.
Walk in your customers’ shoes. Most lawyers maintain the view that they, as professionals, offer a legal service that their clients will use to overcome their problems. They don’t see themselves as a commercial entity, which is perhaps one of the key reasons for this huge disconnect between lawyers and clients. Today legal services are a transferable commodity, just like many other services. Think of how we buy holidays, insurance, medical services and such. Gone are the days when one went to a single garage for car maintenance – today an individual might buy tyres from one outlet, annual MOT from another and an engine from yet another. The law firm business model must be in tune with this approach. It requires an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to go that extra mile to develop solutions for consumers of their offering.
It’s time lawyers went beyond the letter of the law. There is merit in making the investment to understand customer requirements and the wider socio economic environment to then devise a service that hits the sweet spot of client needs. There are tools and processes available too that lawyers can leverage to work smarter – and in the way that their tech savvy customers want to – flexibly, cost effectively and even creatively.
The balance of power in the client/lawyer relationship is shifting. Download The Bellwether Report 2015: The Age of the Client to explore how independent law firms and sole practitioners are responding to a new breed of client.