Understanding Clients’ Needs

Photo by Guy Erwood

Understanding the needs of solicitors and clients is something we all imagine we do well, but have never taken time out to check. In a highly competitive market place if we miss out on small points, we may lose out on big clients.

Getting it right is not an easy task, and varies from solicitor to solicitor. But can we sit down with each one of them and find out what they like and what they loathe?

Well, the simple answer is ‘we can’t’. They don’t have the time; and we don’t have the skills to enquire.

So this is where the Service Sheet – Understanding your Needs’ comes in.

Within it are some interesting ideas. For example:

  • partnership programmes
  • ‘off-fee’ discussions
  • linking or sharing technology
  • Shared use of library services
  • media advocacy
  • specialist up-date meetings

Understanding your Needs

Practitioner preferences

Do you currently access details of barrister profiles?

Have you identified your team of advisers?

On what basis is your selection of counsel made?

  • experience
  • skills
  • personality
  • availability
  • cost

Do your selected barristers understand and respond the needs of your organisation?

Would you seek a ‘partnering programme’: regular meetings with your chosen group of barristers?

Would you like to receive quarterly updates regarding the barristers in your field?


How do you prefer to communicate?

  • telephone
  • E Mail
  • linked data bases or shared technology?
  • practitioner to practitioner?

Would you benefit from direct mobile contact numbers for the barristers in your team?


How often would you seek meetings with counsel?

Do you wish to see counsel on a specific case basis only?

Do members of your current team offer ‘off the clock’ discussion time following meetings and phone calls?

Would you wish to avail yourself of an ‘off the fee’ discussion session with a barrister every quarter?

Would you benefit from being on the barrister’s mailing list?

Would you appreciate a free ‘newsletter’ containing legal updates from your team of barristers?


Where do you prefer to hold conferences?

Would you appreciate conferences at your offices as a priority?

Do any of your clients have a wish or need to conduct conferencing at their offices?

Would you benefit from video conferencing, and if so, do you require assistance in developing this service?


Do you currently communicate electronically?

Would you wish to develop the capacity for E practice?

Would you benefit from a technology link with your barristers?

Would you wish to share technology with your barristers?

Other resources

Your barristers have an extensive on-line law library. Would you benefit from associate membership for yourself or your colleagues?


Do you have or require media contact?

For this purpose, would you avail your organisation of a Media Advocacy Service?

Pro bono work

Do you provide this for your existing clients in any cases?

Would you appreciate pro bono advice from your barristers’ Pro Bono Unit, and if so, in what fields or for which clients?


Do you encounter matters which involve cultural or religious issues, and if so which?

Would you benefit from free access to a network of barristers who have interest in and awareness of such issues?


Do you regularly/occasionally act for clients with disability?

Do you have easy access for the less able?

Would you wish for contact with your barristers’ Access Service for those with Disability?


Do you set target dates?

Would you benefit from the introduction of a formal target date expectation?

New developments in the law

What systems do you currently employ to keep up to date?

Would you benefit from the provision of a free twice-yearly update meeting with specialists who practice in your field?

Would you appreciate your name being added to a mailing list for new developments in the law?


On what basis would you prefer fees to be levied?

  • fixed fee
  • hourly rate
  • capped cost

What are your billing requirements?

Do you use BACS for payment of counsels’ fees?

Would you benefit from a Group Payment Service?


Would you benefit from receiving a ‘standard form’ attendance note at the conclusion of each unattended hearing?

Would you benefit from the completion of a client feedback form at the conclusion of each case?

Other Expectations?

What are they, and how can your barristers meet them?


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