In order for law firms to succeed in a competitive market we all need to answer the question above. 11,500 odd firms means those that answer it in their clients view will thrive

The Small Firms Division Annual Conference will take place on the afternoon of 22 September in London and be run again on 6 October in Leeds. Book your place now to avoid missing out on specialist smaller law firm training which could help you run your business more effectively.

Paul Bennett, a solicitor and Professional Practice Partner with Aaron & Partners LLP who advises firms throughout England and Wales, outlines some brief points below. This is a preview to his talk with Tony Roe, who runs niche family practice Tony Roe Solicitors in Berkshire.

Good service or just complaining clients?

As a regulatory adviser to numerous other law firms I see lots of firms, sole practitioners to mid size firms, thinking that client service is just a complaints issue. It is not in my view, it’s a profitability issue.

When thinking of service it is easy to get sucked into addressing the misunderstandings of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or Legal Ombudsman (LeO) who deal with the controversial and often unlikely elements which have come together to catch out practitioners.

Instead when looking at this from a law firm perspective sometimes the basics are more vital to avoiding the pitfalls.

The basics we all know are:

  • Thinking like a client helps
  • Your best form of marketing is word of mouth and referral
  • If the client is unhappy, you need to start with asking why? Sometimes saying sorry there has been a misunderstanding is all that is required.

Ask yourself these fundamental questions:

  • How often though do you test what we think we do against what clients actually want?
  • What is good client service to your client base?

For Tony, as a specialist in family law, his clients’ needs will be wildly different to my client’s requirements. There is lots of research out there and our talk will cover some of it.

We will try and explain from a lawyers perspective, from a small firms’ perspective, from a business owners’ perspective how to get this right by starting with identification of your clients’ needs (as opposed to the SRA and LeO which look towards disgruntled clients needs).

As the business author Tom Peters has observed:’Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.’

Our session at the Small Firms Division Annual Conference in London and Leeds will seek to provoke your thoughts and ensure you leave with 3-5 points to implement in your firm to make a difference. Hopefully you will come and join us.

Paul Bennett is a Professional Practice Solicitor at law firm Aaron & Partners LLP who advises law firms on the business of law including complaints and regulatory obligations. Email him or call 01743 453 685.