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In "Being John Malcovich," people were able to enter his mind and experience different relationships through his eyes. It's a comedy, with some strange twists, but basically it ends happily ever after.
In being more approachable, attorneys may also find themselves happier in their client relationships. Here are some perspectives from different lawyers on achieving good client relationships:
1. Be Human
Increasingly, electronic communications are taking the place of person-to-person communications. With voicemail, email, interactive websites, and other evolving technologies, lawyers need to "polish up their human skills."
"Forming close and meaningful relationships with clients has always been hugely important in the legal sector, but with the rise of artificial intelligence and robots carrying out tasks in law firms, it will become more vital than ever for firms to ensure all their lawyers sharpen their own emotional intelligence," said Matthew Kay, director of Pinsent Mason's legal resourcing branch in England.
2. Do Unto Others
Small firm and solo practitioners may have more opportunities to work closely with clients than most lawyers in big law firms. But every lawyer should know that clients appreciate personal attention.
Julie Wilcox Olmsted, writing for Lawyerist, said that her friend did not like the treatment she received at a BigLaw firm. She was shuffled between different lawyers who seemed to treat her more like a commodity than a client.
"So, ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were the client," Olsted said. "Hold their hand as necessary. Keep them informed on the status of their case."
3. Network with Non-Lawyers
Networking with non-lawyers has hidden benefits, beyond the obvious opportunities for gaining new clients. By associating with more non-lawyers, attorneys can get away from lawyerspeak and other behaviors that make them unapproachable.
Sport clubs, garden clubs, and even parties can be the best places to relax and develop regular relationships with people. It's not about developing clients; it's about developing relationships.