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5 Top Tips On Retaining Your Legal Clients And Market Position

  • March 8, 2020

Earning a client’s trust is paramount to the success of your law firm.

Additionally, you work hard for your clients and to maintain and build your legal professionalism. Retaining clients and your place in the legal marketplace requires strategies to help build relationships and keep those clients coming back to you as their firm of choice.

Client retention means you can avoid spending a lot of valuable time in marketing your law firm to earn new business. Also, happy clients who return to your firm may even provide a lead to additional work if they recommend you to others in their network. This can be a huge boost, especially if they have wide-reaching connections.

So, how can you help retain those valuable clients and increase your repeat business, thus placing yourself well ahead of the pack and accelerating your market position? This article, will provide five top tips to implement that could accelerate retention levels and see your firm’s reputation rise.

1. Communicate

How often do you hear clients complaining that their solicitor doesn’t return their calls, or that they don’t know where things are in their case?

Your clients want to feel valued, and it’s easy to make them believe their business is important to you. Start by returning their phone calls or emails. You can delegate some of this work if necessary, but if correspondence requires your personal attention – make the time to address it. This could be as simple as setting aside a specific time each day and blocking off your diary to give you space without interruption to answer client’s questions.

2. Be Honest

Things don’t always go to plan. It’s critical for your legal team to be able to handle bad news, as well as good, and deal with unexpected results.

Therefore, it’s vital to be clear with your client that you can’t guarantee results. Managing potential outcomes can be tricky, but preparing your client from the start will make results easier to handle.

Remember that your clients have come to you at a time that they need assistance – it could be any one of several challenging issues in their personal or professional lives, and they will want to hear positive news from you.

But honesty is essential. Don’t be tempted to give false hope and be clear that there may be problems or even a negative outcome if you believe this to be the case.

It’s also essential to be honest about your own performance as a provider of legal services. For example, if you are late with documents, admit it. If a client discovers you were untruthful about a small issue like late documents, they will doubt you over more significant issues. Aim to protect your firm’s integrity in all circumstances.

3. Bill Clients Accurately

Overbilling or charging in a way that was not clearly demonstrated initially to the client will not help establish your firm’s professionalism.

Therefore, invoices should always correctly reflect the work done. Time tracking and billing software can help your firm create accurate bills, avoiding unhappy clients who believe they have been overcharged, and resulting in faster payments and higher levels of customer confidence in your firm.

Additionally, you may wish to offer various billing options such as fixed fee, hourly billing or flat fees for services – clients have different preferences, and to keep ahead of the pack it’s a good idea to consider offering different options. Being agile in this way could be the difference between keeping and losing a client.

4. Remain Professional

Of course, the most critical aspect of retaining clients and gaining market position is to complete the legal work you have taken on; providing services that are effective and offer value to your clients.

Meeting deadlines, employing skilled solicitors and handling cases efficiently will ensure clients recognise your professionalism and return to use your services again – as well as recommending you to others.

Equally pivotal to ensuring your law firm remains relevant is to keep all your employee’s certifications up to date, and make sure you stay informed about legal changes and court decisions.

5. Consider Diversifying

It may seem a bold move, but diversification can give you an advantage over competitors and place you ahead of the curve. Addressing the ‘where’ and ‘how’ to scale your law firm should be considered carefully and will be dependant on your current position – both geographically and in terms of client base and marketplace.

Dramatic strategy changes may seem radical, and remaining credible is paramount, and so you may wish to consider small steps if looking to increase your service offer. If you choose to consider this route, a good place to start is by re-examining your strategic plan to highlight areas you could develop as well as ensure you are on the right track for success.

Following these top tips will help you create better client retention, enhance your reputation and keep you one step ahead of the competition in a crowded legal marketplace.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to develop your legal team, please call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Are You Failing to Plan for Growth in Your Law Firm?

  • September 5, 2019

As a successful legal professional, be it a Senior Partner, Managing Partner, Senior Leader, you are the primary driver for your law firm, determining its growth.

Ultimately, you are pivotal in creating your firm’s story and building a pathway to its goals.

Maybe you are experiencing current success – but don’t fall into the trap of overlooking areas where you could improve. It’s easy to become complacent, and before you know it, you will start to slip backwards.

So how can you ensure you don’t fail to grow? In the current climate with market forces as they are, you must strive to remain successful – and the key to that lies in planning.

Sometimes it’s natural to overlook areas where you could make improvements if the firm is experiencing overall success. It’s easy to miss opportunities to progress.

Alternatively, you may feel that your business is suffering due to market forces out of your control and you’re unable to take a step forward in the current climate.

However, there are always ways to improve and move forward. So, take a step back to review your law firm, its customers, systems, processes and employees to reassess your goals and ensure you are making the most of your business.

Talk to Your Customers

It doesn’t matter how qualified your employees are or what specialist services you provide if you don’t focus on customer service first.

Customers define your firm, so your priority is to ensure you understand their needs.

You can do this by conducting surveys and research to gain valuable feedback. Just ensure that your surveys facilitate honest feedback, or you’re wasting your time, and theirs.

Having honest insight into your customers’ thoughts on your service will allow you to develop the services they want and need, as well as enabling you to improve those areas that need development.

It’s essential to take the extra step to make your customers feel valued and unique, so make sure you talk to them and listen to (and address) any problems they have. That way, you will inspire loyalty – and loyal consumers won’t just come back to you – they will recommend their friends and colleagues to you too.

Check Your USP

What does your law firm offer that others don’t?

Brand awareness is not only about the external perception of your law firm, but how your employees see it too.

A good brand will utilise its profile in the marketplace to position itself ahead of the competition.

Developing an excellent company brand will enable you to develop a reputation as a great place to work and do business with, providing exceptional company culture and customer service.

Be Clear on Your Value Proposition

This is all about the ‘c’s!

Improve your communication – with customers, colleagues and competitors. Listen to the words others use and use them right back. Be clear about who you are and the value you provide.

Be concise – get a clear message out there about your law firm. Don’t make your messages long and overly complicated – people are more likely to remember short, punchy information.

Be compelling – are you persuasive in making people want to do business with you? Can you offer them something no one else can? I refer you back to your USP…

Focus on Strong Leadership

Does your leadership come up to scratch?

A successful law firm requires leadership that is transparent, emotionally intelligent, resilient, empathetic, focused and inspiring.

If you believe your leadership could develop in some of these areas further, take steps now. Training in personal development will enable you to lead from the front.

Failure to invest in leadership will result in good ideas coming to nothing, so start at the top.

Invest in Building a Top Team

Developing a high-performing team who work collaboratively will enable your law firm to achieve its goals, both short and long-term.

It will create a positive mindset and ethos of encouragement and positivity that will allow your firm to excel and grow, keeping you ahead of the pack in the competitive legal marketplace and making your law firm attractive to further top talent.

As part of this, professional development should play a significant role in ensuring your team keeps ahead of trends.

Training and development of both hard and soft skills will not only instil a sense of pride in specialist knowledge and ability but make employees feel valued by the firm.

This, in turn, will lead to better staff retention saving you the costs of hiring and onboarding new employees.

Additionally, happy staff are more productive, so you will see positive developments on the bottom line.

In a working environment where individuals are part of a capable team, the quality of an individual’s sense of purpose in understanding big goals is enhanced. They feel ‘included’ in decisions, and their ideas and concerns listened to and acted on.

Embrace Technology

The legal sector is growing at a rapid pace. If you’re standing still in terms of digital ability, then you might as well be going backwards.

Using the internet to grow your law firm allows you to reach a much larger number of potential clients than ever before.

As well as building your client base, if you regularly post industry articles online, you will develop a reputation as being an authority in your specialist areas – attracting both top talent to want to work for you as well as establishing you as a credible law firm in the eyes of competitors.

Your website should also reflect your forward-thinking by embracing new technology.

Refining your online platform will make it more responsive, and maximising your SEO will enable you to reach more viewers online, as well as offering you the opportunity to connect and network with others – crucial in moving forward.

Additionally, a social media strategy will enable you to reach more clients, develop relationships and strengthen existing ones, gain insight into competitors and demonstrate your industry knowledge.

Develop a Strategic Plan

Ultimately, a strategic plan is the tool that will enable you to move forward and grow your legal firm.

Using your knowledge of what has worked well previously, you can build a pathway to achieve your ultimate goals, avoiding strategies that have failed in the past.

A good plan will move you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Including milestone achievements will keep you focused on the end goals and provide you and your team with motivation along the way.

Make your strategic plan achievable (but aspirational) and timely – and don’t be afraid to amend it as you progress if your law firm’s requirements change.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking to scale your law firm and achieve your goals, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our guide here.

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Your Legal Employee is Leaving – Should You Make a Counteroffer?

  • August 10, 2019

As a legal professional, you know it’s a reality that employees come and go over the years. Sometimes that’s a good thing for everyone concerned, and some you will be sad to see leave.

So, if your talented and likeable Senior Conveyancing Solicitor comes to tell you they are leaving to go and work for a competitor, what’s your first reaction? Do you panic and wrack your brains for a motive to make them stay?Do you think “Oh well, we had a good run” and wave them goodbye?

Do you want to keep them, and should you even try?

If that individual is a great team-player, motivated, hard to replace (or expensive), planning a move to one of your biggest competitors and is currently working on a time-sensitive caseload, you will be tempted to offer them the moon to stay.

Additionally, the true cost of losing an employee can be prohibitive – hiring fees, recruiting time, onboarding and training – not to mention the nose-dive in morale for other employees who see a valued and talented colleague walking out of the door.

But a word of warning. Think twice before making a counteroffer as there are pros and cons to consider.

Why Employees Leave

Avoid the temptation to go in with a financial incentive to stay straight away. Research states that the individual will leave anyway within six to 24 months of your counteroffer.

Surprised?

The fact is that it’s rarely a salary issue that sees employees leave to take up another job offer. So, an offer of increased salary isn’t going to cut it long-term.

The main reasons people leave their current workplace include the following:

Lack of career progression. If an employee feels they have climbed as far up the career ladder as they can with your law firm, they are going to start casting their net elsewhere to discover better opportunities.

Poor management. People don’t quit their job; they quit their boss. And it’s true in many cases. Poor management practice can do a lot of damage – decimating and demoralising a workplace – often unnoticed by senior staff until it’s too late.

Unsatisfactory working environment. A workplace that doesn’t encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking or is inflexible with its staff is not going to be successful. Individuals need to feel valued and respected. They need to look forward to coming to work and enjoy their job. That way, they will have the drive and motivation to boost not only their own career but the firm’s fortunes too.

Desire for more challenging work. The employee may be bored in their work. Perhaps your Portal Fee Earner has been hoping for promotion to Team Leader for some time but hasn’t been successful. Or your Conveyancing Solicitor has been dealing with the same clients doing similar work for several years and yearns for a new challenge.

Either way, if your employee isn’t stretched or challenged in their job, they become disinterested. Then disinterest quickly transforms into boredom, and they start looking for something else to extend their capabilities.

Opportunity to join a high-profile law firm. Blinded by the dazzle of a top law firm, an employee might feel the urge to leave just to be part of a well-known firm. While it’s hard to argue with this one, they (and you) should be warned of the possible pitfalls. Does the company have a good reputation? Does it have a high staff turnover?

Better work-life balance. Some things money just can’t buy, and this is one of them.

Burn out is common amongst legal professionals. It’s challenging to juggle the needs of a busy job with home life, and inevitably, many employees look towards leaving a position to try to claw back some time for themselves and their family.

Asking the Right Questions

I would propose that initially, asking a few questions can give you a good indication of why your employee is thinking of leaving. You could open with a general “So, what’s got you thinking of leaving” or “Do you want to discuss it?”

Not everyone will want to talk about why they’re leaving a job – it might be personal. I read an article recently in Harvard Business Review in which Brian Kropp, head of CEB’s HR practice said, “The big realisation is that it’s not just what happens at work—it’s what happens in someone’s personal life that determines when he or she decides to look for a new job.”

Asking questions may help you gauge what the problem was that’s got them to the point where they are genuinely planning to pick up their things and go.

The best-case scenario of discussing it is that you will find out there’s a specific reason that you have the power to address and retain your employee.

The worse case is that you will have learned what was wrong and can put it right for future employees.

Either way, you will have addressed the issue and done as much as you could.

Making Your Counteroffer

If you want to make a counteroffer, first ask the employee these two questions:

Do they enjoy working with your law firm? Can they see themselves having a future with you?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then it’s worth making a counteroffer.

Start with non-financial incentives to stay. We already know they don’t work. Instead, consider these alternatives:

• Improve your workplace culture to allow diversity and inclusion to flourish.

• Explore flexible working hours. It’s worth considering offering flexitime to employees who feel stressed.

• Offer other options, such as working from home. Employers who are more fluid in their approach to alternative working arrangements will be more respected by their teams and see better staff retention.

• Give them a role that plays to strengths. Is there an opportunity to move the employee into a position that better suits their skillset and ability? Is there a project/case they could lead on which would challenge them?

• Consider mentoring opportunities – a great mentor can provide invaluable insight, support and guidance to an employee who is struggling with their career.

• Address management issues. There’s no excuse for poor behaviour in the workplace. Bullying, harassment or just downright rude bosses need to be dealt with before you lose your staff.

• Consider employing extra staff to relieve the workload. If it’s an issue of workload overwhelm, it might be worth considering getting additional staff. This could be on a temporary or permanent basis but would ease the pressure on your current employees and enable them to be more productive, less frazzled and less likely to be off work due to stress.

• Have a clear progression pathway. Everyone wants to feel they can achieve their ambitions at work and progress. It’s part of life’s journey.

• Have an employee development plan that shows a clear training, development and progression route for each employee. This will give individuals something to aim for and ensure they are more likely to stay and grow with your law firm.
Remember – for all the above, real action is needed for your counteroffer to be successful.

Potential Pitfalls of a Counteroffer

The ‘cons’ of your counteroffer also need consideration. Things to think about include:

• Will offering a salary increase create imbalance across the team?
• Will other team members pressure for a salary rise when word gets out – and if so, can you manage expectations?
• Will you get a reputation in the market for overpaying that could lead to unsuitable candidates clamouring to join your law firm for the wrong reasons?
• Can you afford an increased financial offer?
• Will the employee take advantage of you? Will they continue performing at previous levels or become complacent, even arrogant, because they got their own way?

Moving Forward

Whatever the outcome, you may want to consider ways to improve staff retention going forward; improving company culture, opening lines of communication to provide transparency and most importantly, valuing your employees.

Moving On?

If your employee is still inclined to leave despite all reasonable negotiation, it’s probably best to agree to part ways and wish them well.

Remember, life is about change. If it’s time for them to move on, let them resign gracefully. Don’t be tempted to behave childishly – that will only get the rest of your team thinking about starting their own covert job hunt.

Instead, throw a party and thank them for their contribution.  That’s the best way to build trust and successfully manage your legal team.

Next Steps

If you’re reading this article because you are looking at ways to improve staff retention, or you want to build your legal team, call one of the Clayton Legal team on 01772 259 121 and let’s have a conversation to explore your options.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.  Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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Your Legal Team Growth: 5 Standout Ideas To Consider

  • April 25, 2019

Effective teamwork is crucial for any Legal firm.

Whether it’s an outstanding legal secretary, fielding calls and organising schedules and paperwork or a competent paralegal, interviewing witnesses and taking statements, everyone at your firm needs to be engaged and focused on the same goals to facilitate great results.

Finding the perfect blend of knowledge, skills and attitudes for your team can help you to get ahead of the competition and achieve your goals faster. However, before you can start reaping the rewards of a high-performing team, you’ll need to know how to set your employees up for success.

Here are just some of the ways that you can develop a more cohesive community within your legal firm.

Step 1: Recruit Based On Shared Values

A high-performing team is defined by a group of people who can support each other in reaching critical professional goals. Cohesiveness is essential to your team, which means you’ll need employees who can pull together for the greater good based on a clear understanding of what your firm wants to achieve.

This will happen more easily when your employees share your organisational values. When recruiting, build into your process, questions and exercises that explore a candidate’s beliefs.
This will give you an opportunity to test if their ethics match the firm’s.

When onboarding new employees, remember to explain why your legal firm’s values are important and provide them with examples of how you see these beliefs being expressed, so they have some ideas of what’s expected.

Being clear and consistent about your vision and values will give your team a sense of direction and some common objectives. Even if individual solicitors or legal teams are working on different cases, it’s important that everyone still understands the bigger picture.

Step 2: Embrace Diversity

Legal firms can often be attracted to a specific type of candidate. After all, you need someone with the requisite qualifications and experience who understands your field of law and shares your vision. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone in your team needs to have the same perspective. In fact, you can often accomplish more by embracing a wide selection of diverse viewpoints.

As the digital world continues to have more of an impact on every aspect of our society, it’s also increasingly critical to find candidates who have varied backgrounds and skills to offer. The more diversity you have in your team, the easier it will be to overcome complex challenges with ‘out of the box’ thinking. What’s more, diverse recruitment can help to improve your employer brand, which will help you to build your legal talent pipeline.

Step 3: Build a Supportive Environment

High-performing legal teams need to feel as though they can rely on their members to help them accomplish goals on behalf of the firm. A supportive team environment will not only enhance employee morale, promote peer-to-peer learning and lead to increased retention of your legal talent, but most importantly contribute positively to the quality and consistency of service that your firm provides its clients.

Creating a supportive environment within your firm begins by exploring the idea of psychological safety. Your team members need to know that they’re not going to be punished if their creativity and independent actions lead to mistakes.

Recognising and rewarding out-of-the-box thinking among your people and celebrating those who try new things is a great way to help your legal team flourish. By encouraging as well as modelling these behaviours, you’ll bring your firm’s vision and values to life.

Step 4: Give Employees Room to Thrive

Although effective teams need to collaborate to achieve their goals, they also need room to explore their unique skills. A high-performing legal team is bound to have people from a range of backgrounds, each with their own strengths and areas of expertise. Team leaders will know how to delegate tasks to take advantage of certain talents.

Make sure that you’re providing your staff members with the environment, resources and support they need to thrive both in a team environment and individually. For instance, it’s critical to ensure you develop the right atmosphere to enable the fee earners on your team to manage multiple caseloads.

Every member of your team will have their own strengths and development areas. Pairing the right people together will naturally lead to mentorship opportunities that supplement skill gaps as well as providing bonding opportunities.

Step 5: Focus on Great Leadership

Finally, in any legal firm, it’s crucial to make sure that your team has the right leadership to guide them towards success. Regardless of your area of law, your leadership team needs to be ready to inspire and motivate the rest of your legal team.

Leaders are the people who set the standard for the rest of the group, by showing them what “excellence” means to your organisation. According to the CIPD, the input of the right leader can be enough to improve workplace engagement by 39%.

Develop leadership strategies intended to keep employees motivated as they work together with their peers, and make sure to offer rewards and recognition for those that achieve great things in their roles.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year download our latest guide here.

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