Lawyers communicate with clients very poorly most of the time. We used to be a law firm, and then we changed to become a Chinese technology company. We haven’t updated some of the wording below. However, read on! You will learn a lot.
At our law firm, we are trying to change that by using technology. As the CEO of a Toronto law firm, I have been in the legal industry for almost five years.
I have learned a lot about what lawyers are good at and where they lack. The most notable issue I found with lawyers is that they cannot communicate well with clients.
Prior to starting my own Toronto law firm, I was the vice president of a larger family law firm in Vancouver BC. We had a lot of lawyers, and some were great at communicating and some were terrible.
At first, it seemed like an individual issue with a few of our lawyers. But after I had the opportunity to manage or work with hundreds of lawyers over the years, it seemed it was an industry-wide phenomenon.
Breakdown in solicitor-client relationship
When I ask most lawyers what they think the number one law society complaint is, they often reply that is lawyer fees. The second answer is normally regarding trust accounts.
The real answer is lack of communication. A lawyer might have signed up a client, taken a retainer deposit, and then the client hasn’t heard from the lawyer in a month.
It is almost as if some lawyers enjoy collecting files. If I was a client that had an important legal issue and I had not heard from the lawyer in a month, I would be concerned as well.
Why Won’t Lawyers Communicate with Clients?
As a law firm manager, I fully understand that lawyers get very busy. Between doing agreements, preparing for court, going to court, doing consultations, and dealing with billables, replying to their voicemail and emails might seem like the least of their concerns.
I regularly get emails from clients asking when the lawyer will get back to them. I then text the lawyer and the lawyer get back to me within an hour. The lawyer then replies to the client’s email.
It’s normally not that the lawyer didn’t have enough time, they just saw client communication as the least important thing in their day. Any extra few hours at the end of the day were spent with their loved ones instead of email.
Lawyers communication problems
There is a real opportunity in the legal industry for law firms that can create a scalable business model. The most important thing about scalability is being able to grow without multiplying problems.
If growing increases the amount of law society complaints you receive and other problems, it’s probably best not to grow.
A potential client should be able to complete an initial online enquiry and have a consultation call and follow-up email a few days later at the longest. The solicitor should be supported by a colleague who is competent in sales and customer relations.
If lawyers are not good at communication, then let non-lawyers do it.
Lawyers communicate with clients poorly. This article was written by Alistair Vigier of ClearWay Law.