Over my career as I watched lawyers interact with clients and potential clients, I noticed that some lawyers failed to recognize what made each client and each client matter unique and different.

I noticed those lawyers failed to actively listened and tended to want to talk too much. What else did I notice about those lawyers?

  1. They rarely figured out their client’s needs.
  2. They typically wanted to show clients how smart they were.
  3. They were impatient and did not listen.
  4. They frequently finished their clients’ sentences.
  5. They were filled with war stories that usually involved dropping former clients’ names.

Picture the lawyer meeting with a client who says:

Let me interrupt you, Mr. Jones, and tell you what I think you should do. Your problem reminds me of the case I had for the XYZ Company and I was able to win that one by …

Client Pitch

How many times have you seen lawyers set the structure for their conversation with their client and not listen to his story and how it impacts his business?

In Trusted Advisor the authors mention that Ariel Group, a communications training firm, teaches the idea of “reflective listening,” followed by “supportive listening” followed by “listening for possibility.”

Examples are given for each: Reflective: “What I hear you saying . . . “ Supportive: “Gee that must be tough . . . “ Possibility: “So, what have you considered to be solutions . . . ?

Do you have a meeting scheduled with a client or potential client? What can you do to listen more effectively?