4 easy ways to lose clients. The damaging lawyer mistakes.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode four

It’s hard work getting new clients.  You’re building your brand, cultivating relationships and marketing round the clock.

Once you win a new client, how do you nurture the relationship and keep them with you?  You’ve put in all the hard work, so you want them to stay, right?  A simple yet effective way to keep your clients happy is by making your law easy. 

Because when you make your law easy your clients are happy.

Easy? When did the law become easy?

Lawyers assume we build trust and credibility by maintaining the complexity. And we lose clients because clients can’t stand it.

When was the last time you looked at how you present your law? Do you

  • Put yourself and your expertise in the spotlight
  • Overwhelm your client with legal speak
  • Hide key information 
  • Present legal documents like legal documents

Making law easy

How do your clients feel about your complex, dry and cold information?

When it’s complicated, they give up trying to understand, feel uncertain about their options with no idea what to do next.  

They start looking for alternatives because they feel like they’re wasting their time and money.  They’re dissatisfied because you aren’t serving them well. And it’s bad business for you.

If you can find a way to make law easy, your clients will understand you better, they will be empowered in their legal matters and your “know, like and trust” factor will go through the roof. 

We like people who are easy to read. And you want your clients to like you, right? Your business is about building relationships through client dialogue rather than a one-way channel for legal information.

Adding ease and a common-sense approach to your lawyer toolbox will move you from traditional lawyer-centered communication to client-centered legal experiences to which your clients can relate. 

I’ll break it down for you in a second. 

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers

Every week on Instagram you can join my Live session for law firm owners. In these sessions, I talk about client experience and client-centricity in law, how to get more happy clients and make yourself a happy lawyer too.

 I’m here to help you take your legal business to the next level, with confidence and ease.

 You can catch a replay of Episode four below or join me live and ask questions.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen Happy Customers and Happy Lawyers – Episode #4 When your law is easy, your clients are happy

Four sabotaging mistakes lawyers make that lose clients

Putting the lawyer and their expertise in the spotlight

As lawyers, we’re taught to communicate in a way that abandons your client’s perspective from the get-go. It’s not your fault. It’s lawyers doing what lawyers have always done. 

There’s a good quote from George Bernard Shaw that says

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

It’s easy to make the legal communication about you and what you want to tell rather than what the client needs to know and hear.

It’s much harder to put the client in the center of your work and communicate in a way that makes sense to the client. Your client doesn’t need to know everything you know about the subject, they need to know what is relevant to them and their struggle.

Lawyer in the spotlight? What to do instead.

We shine the spotlight on your client. 

You get to know your client and their specific need and context and change your communication to what they need to know and what is helpful in their situation. 

Dare to leave the rest or feed it when appropriate. Sometimes the information is necessary. but the timing is wrong.

How this looks like in practice. Long sentences your client won’t understand. Legalese that does not make sense to your client. 

It’s not communicating with your client; it’s talking at your client.  

Your clients get intimidated, and they need to reach for a dictionary. 

You might be technically correct, but if your client doesn’t understand you, you’re not doing a good job.

How does your client feel about your legal speak?

The complexity and overwhelm with your law makes your clients feel stupid. Like they should know all this and when they don’t there’s something wrong with them. 

Nobody wants to feel that way. 

Nobody wants to pay money for services that make them feel stupid.

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Legalese overload? What to do instead.

Pay attention to what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. 

Use plain language. 

Use words that your clients understand. Here’s a good thinking process: how would you say the same thing to your mother? Or your child? This practical tip may help you to step into your client’s shoes and adjust your communication for them.

Ask your client to explain what you have just told them in their words. If they can’t, own it and fix it. Explain again with different words. 

Rule of thumb! If you remember one thing, remember this.  Shorten your sentences. Use full stop instead of a comma. See? If you use a full stop instead of a comma, the impact is huge! 

No tech involved. No development budget is required.

Making it hard to find key information

Some lawyers like to start all communication from ancient history. Digging through pages of superfluous fluff to find the one thing you need.  We mistake our work products as literature and assume that our clients want to read every single word of our 20-page brief. 

This is not the case.

Your client wants information that is relevant to them. 

A good example of this is an insurance company’s compensation decision. 

Typically, it starts with a description of the event, goes on to explain the basis for the decision and ends with the decision itself. 

What do you think is most important for the client? It’s the decision and whether the client will or will not receive compensation. 

So, the entire letter should start with this information. With colorful shiny letters, if possible.

The cure is simple. Start your brief, document or presentation with the key points that are relevant to your client. Go directly to the beef and explain later. 

Your clients won’t get frustrated by having to read the whole thing before finding what they need. 

First, you of course need to understand what the key message of your communication is. But here’s a tip. Legal justifications can usually be left until the end.

Let’s face it. Legal writing often looks like a massive wall of text that blocks any unsuspecting attempts to approach it very effectively. 

A huge amount of black text. Smallest font, fully justified, covering every inch of white space. 

Often, we aren’t sure how to change this. And we aren’t even aware we need to. But breaking the text with visual aids is impactful for your client.

(I know you’re a lawyer and not a graphic designer.)

Blocks of boring, sleep-inducing black text? What to do instead.

Start experimenting with visual law. It means adding visual elements to your legal communication.

Start easy, with very simple ways.

The most simple is to add white space to your document. It allows your client to breathe in the middle of the read. Add spacings between paragraphs. Increase line-height.

More complex but very useful and doable is a timeline or a process chart. It shows a complex process visually. Imagine the relief in your clients face when they get an easy overview of the problem and where to go next. 

I’ve written a blog post about visual law and its possibilities. Check it out if you want to explore it some more. You don’t need to be a professional designer.

Making law easy.

Did any of this resonate with you? You don’t need to say it out loud, but it’s interesting when we peel back the layers, we see ourselves making the same mistakes.

The good news is everything is fixable. And the fixes are easy. No big budgets, no large project rollouts. As the owner of a boutique law firm, change is quicker. You’re agile and flexible and you can start experimenting today. 

Every conversation, every document and interaction are a new start. If you don’t get it right every time, don’t beat yourself up. Try again next time. 

I recommend taking time over a coffee or tea in the evening to reflect on your efforts each day and see whether your clients were able to explain what you told them, in their words. When they do, every time, you’re onto something.

You can do it. I’m your biggest cheerleader. 

Want more happy customers so you can be a happy lawyer? Stay tuned

 Would you like to chat? Drop me an email at [email protected] While you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and discover other ways to use customer-centric thinking to grow your law firm and thrive in your business.

 Catch the replay: Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers

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