Despite the talk about commercial awareness, lawyers still don’t understand clients, says study

There is still a big perception gap between what clients want and what lawyers think they want, a new survey by LexisNexis says.

While law firms stress the importance of commercial awareness to students, the study indicates that lawyers still “vastly misunderstand” their clients’ priorities.

While lawyers correctly identified that their clients’ most important priority was that they provide clear indication of the likely cost of a job, ‘providing regular progress reports’ ranked second on clients’ list of top priorities, but lawyers only rated it tenth out of 14 options.

Meanwhile, lawyers thought ‘demystifying the law’ was more important to clients than proved to be the case. Lawyers ranked it fourth; clients ranked it eighth. 

Lawyers also rated ‘good at listening’ as 12th, while clients ranked it as their sixth most important priority. All the same, two-thirds of clients questioned felt that lawyers were good at listening to them.

The area where clients were least satisfied with their lawyers was being kept up to date with legal developments. Only 53 per cent of clients thought their lawyers ‘proactively alerted them to relevant legal changes.’ 

Lawyers also rate themselves much more highly than clients do. Some 80 per cent of lawyers think they deliver ‘above average’ service; however only 40 per cent of clients thought the same.

“To be a lawyer you need to have a big ego. That is my perception as a client,” said one respondant to the survey. ”They feel the service they are providing is above average. I wouldn’t say so – I think they are pretty average.” 

See also…

Lawyer 2B webcast: Developing and improving your commercial awareness