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The Whole Lawyer: Professional Communications - How To Bridge The Communications Gap With Your Clients

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There are no simple answers in law—but that doesn't mean clients won't ask what they think are simple yes-or-no questions.

Legal answers are inherently complex. Yet, when your responses amount to immense legal briefings, clients often feel intimidated and confused—which can be fertile ground for costly miscommunications. In fact, 36 percent of legal malpractice claims have been attributed to miscommunications and delays with clients.

The question is: How can you find ways to bridge the communication gap with clients?

Join Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers at the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, and Joshua Lenon, Clio’s own lawyer in residence, as they look at how lawyers can lead clearer, more respectful client conversations.

In this one-hour, CLE-accredited1 session, you’ll learn:

How to better demonstrate integrity and trustworthiness
How to express genuine courtesy and respect
How to build rapport with more attention and respect
The benefit of responding promptly to inquiries and requests

Published in: Law
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The Whole Lawyer: Professional Communications - How To Bridge The Communications Gap With Your Clients

  1. 1. #ClioWeb The Whole Lawyer: Professional Communication Seven Steps to Going Solo Bridge The Communications Gap With Clients
  2. 2. #ClioWeb Instructors Joshua Lenon • Lawyer in Residence at Clio • Attorney Admitted in New York • @JoshuaLenon
  3. 3. #ClioWeb Instructors Alli Gerkman • Director, Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers • Attorney Admitted in Colorado • @AlliGerkman
  4. 4. #ClioWeb Agenda • Foundations for Practice study (15 minutes) • Professional Communications (35 minutes) –Integrity and trustworthiness –Listen attentively and respectfully –Promptly respond to inquiries and requests –Treat others with courtesy and respect • Questions (10 minutes)
  5. 5. #ClioWeb FOUNDATIONS FOR PRACTICE STUDY
  6. 6. 9 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 9 Alli Gerkman Director, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers
  7. 7. 10 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 10 www.foundationsforpractice.com Twitter: @AlliGerkman Email: Alli.Gerkman@du.edu
  8. 8. 11 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 40% Percentage of 2015 law graduates who did not land full- time employment requiring bar passage Credit: ABA Employment Survey
  9. 9. 12 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 30% Percentage of 2015 law graduates who did not land full- time employment recognizing law degree Credit: ABA Employment Survey
  10. 10. 13 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 25% Percentage of 2015 law graduates who did not land full- time employment (including professional and non- professional) Credit: ABA Employment Survey
  11. 11. 14 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 71% Percentage of third-year law students who believe they have sufficient skills to practice Credit: BARBRI, State of the Legal Field Survey
  12. 12. 15 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 45% Percentage of law professors who believe new lawyers have sufficient skills to practice Credit: BARBRI, State of the Legal Field Survey
  13. 13. 16 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 23% Percentage of practitioners who believe new lawyers have sufficient skills to practice Credit: BARBRI, State of the Legal Field Survey
  14. 14. 17 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 1. Identify the foundations entry- level lawyers need 2. Develop measurable models of legal education that support those foundations 3. Align market needs with hiring practices to incentivize positive improvements
  15. 15. 18 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. The number of states that distributed the survey 37
  16. 16. 19 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 24,137 The number of valid responses to the survey
  17. 17. 20 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 147 The number of foundations we asked about
  18. 18. 21 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Initiative Identify relevant facts, legal issues Make decisions and deliver results Conduct and defend depositions Critically evaluate arguments Diligence Integrity and trustworthiness Work as part of a team Listen attentively and respectfully
  19. 19. 22 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Initiative Identify relevant facts, legal issues Make decisions and deliver results Conduct and defend depositions Critically evaluate arguments Diligence Integrity and trustworthiness Work as part of a team Listen attentively and respectfully
  20. 20. 23 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Short Term
  21. 21. 24 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Short Term Over Time
  22. 22. 25 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Short Term Over Time Advantageo us
  23. 23. 26 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Short Term Over Time Advantageo us Not Relevant
  24. 24. 27 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 77 The number of foundations identified as “Necessary in the Short Term” by 50% or more of the respondents
  25. 25. 28 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.
  26. 26. 29 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. The Whole Lawyer
  27. 27. 30 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 1. Keep information confidential 2. Arrive on time 3. Honor commitments 4. Integrity and trustworthiness 5. Treat others with courtesy and respect 6. Listen attentively and respectfully 7. Respond promptly 8. Diligence 9. Strong work ethic 10.Attention to detail 11.Conscientiousness 12.Common sense 13.Intelligence 14.Research the law 15.Take individual responsibility 16.Emotional regulation/self-control 17.Speak professionally 18.Strong moral compass 19.Write professionally 20.Exhibit tact and diplomacy Foundations for Practice
  28. 28. 31 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 1. Keep information confidential 2. Arrive on time 3. Honor commitments 4.Integrity and trustworthiness 5.Treat others with courtesy and respect 6.Listen attentively and respectfully 7.Respond promptly 8. Diligence 9. Strong work ethic 10.Attention to detail 11.Conscientiousness 12.Common sense 13.Intelligence 14.Research the law 15.Take individual responsibility 16.Emotional regulation/self-control 17.Speak professionally 18.Strong moral compass 19.Write professionally 20.Exhibit tact and diplomacy Foundations for Practice
  29. 29. 32 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Integrity/Trustworthiness
  30. 30. 33 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Integrity/Trustworthiness Firms, 1-10All Respondents
  31. 31. 34 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Courtesy and Respect
  32. 32. 35 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Courtesy and Respect Firms, 1-10All Respondents
  33. 33. 36 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Listen attentively
  34. 34. 37 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Listen attentively Firms, 1-10All Respondents
  35. 35. 38 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Promptly respond
  36. 36. 39 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Promptly respond Firms, 1-10All Respondents
  37. 37. 40 © 2016 IAALS – Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. 40 www.foundationsforpractice.com Twitter: @AlliGerkman Email: Alli.Gerkman@du.edu
  38. 38. #ClioWeb PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS
  39. 39. #ClioWeb BE TRUSTWORTHY
  40. 40. #ClioWeb Nobody wants to read about the honest lawyer down the street who does real estate loans and wills. - John Grisham
  41. 41. #ClioWeb What potential clients look for when hiring an attorney • Rapport • Presentation • Past Results • Perception of competence • Convenience • Identification • Aggressiveness • Costs • Trust Source: LawLytics, June 2, 2015
  42. 42. #ClioWeb Rule 4.1: Truthfulness in Statements to Others In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly: (a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or (b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6 [Confidentiality].
  43. 43. #ClioWeb
  44. 44. #ClioWeb Lawyers are Somewhat Trusted 80% trust Doctors to tell the truth 70% trust Teachers to tell the truth 42% trust Lawyers to tell the truth Source: UK Legal Services Board
  45. 45. #ClioWeb Further Trust Rules • Rule 3.3 Candor toward the Tribunal • Rule 7.1 Communication Concerning a Lawyer's Services
  46. 46. #ClioWeb LISTEN LIKE A PRO
  47. 47. #ClioWeb Listen like a Pro Active Listening Steps 1. Pay attention 2. Show that you’re listening 3. Provide Feedback 4. Defer judgement 5. Respond appropriately
  48. 48. #ClioWeb 36 percent of malpractice claims filed between 1997 and 2007 were attributed to miscommunication and delays with clients. Source: LAWPro
  49. 49. #ClioWeb More than 4,200 communications claims —an average of 711 a year— were reported to LAWPRO between 2005 and 2010. The total cost of these claims to date? Roughly $150 million Source: LAWPro
  50. 50. #ClioWeb
  51. 51. #ClioWeb Listening to Clients = Revenue • Only 58% of law firms conduct client feedback. • Firms acting on feedback generate 2.7 times more: –revenue generation –client retention –year-over-year growth. Source: BTI Consulting Group, “Firms Acting on Client Feedback Perform 2.7 Times Better Than All Others,” 03/12/2014
  52. 52. #ClioWeb RESPOND PROMPTLY
  53. 53. #ClioWeb Rule 1.4: Communications (a) A lawyer shall: (1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules; (2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client's objectives are to be accomplished; (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter; (4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and (5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer's conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
  54. 54. #ClioWeb Rule 1.4: Communications [1] Reasonable communication between the lawyer and the client is necessary for the client effectively to participate in the representation. [7] …A lawyer may not withhold information to serve the lawyer's own interest or convenience or the interests or convenience of another person…
  55. 55. #ClioWeb
  56. 56. #ClioWeb Manage Communication Expectations As part of client intake, communicate in writing • When you're available, and how to contact you • How soon to expect a response • How to send you information when you're not available
  57. 57. #ClioWeb
  58. 58. #ClioWeb
  59. 59. #ClioWeb
  60. 60. #ClioWeb
  61. 61. #ClioWeb TREAT OTHERS WITH COURTESY AND RESPECT
  62. 62. #ClioWeb
  63. 63. #ClioWeb
  64. 64. #ClioWeb Rule 8.4: Misconduct (g) engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.
  65. 65. #ClioWeb You don’t have to be rude to be a good lawyer.
  66. 66. #ClioWeb FURTHER RESOURCES
  67. 67. #ClioWeb Further Resources • 3 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Power Up Client Communications – https://www.clio.com/blog/power-client-communications/ • Listen Like a Lawyer Blog – https://listenlikealawyer.com/ • Clio’s Communication Intake Checklist – In your email follow up
  68. 68. #ClioWeb QUESTIONS
  69. 69. #ClioWeb Thank You Joshua Lenon joshua@clio.com @JoshuaLenon Linkedin.com/in/joshualenon 1-888-858-2546 Colin McMahon Linkedin.com/in/colinmcmahonclio Support@clio.com Support.clio.com www.youtube.com/user/ClioVideo

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