Client Satisfaction: A Lawyer’s Most Valued Performance Indicator

Client Satisfaction in especially the larger law firms’ rates low on the list of key performance indicators. It is surpassed by the hard bottom-line drive KPIs: Number of new clients, revenue collected, revenue billed and monthly expenses.

Despite the fact that client satisfaction is crucial in assessing a lawyers’ performance, it clearly is not seen as critical by some lawyers. And yet, it is probably one of the most important measurement criteria.

Client Perceptions

Why is it that so many people say they stay as far away from lawyers as they can? Why is it that client satisfaction is so low and so many people complain of the following:

  • Arrogance on the part of attorneys
  • Time it takes to get matters resolved through lawyers
  • Poor management of information and a lack of communication
  • Their threatening, intimidating and unhelpful strategies
  • The exorbitant cost of the services
  • The perceived lack of interest in the client as a human being as opposed to just a case that needs to be fought or won?

The smaller firms seem to understand the need to make their clients happy much better. Why?: Because they need to build credibility to remain in business. They see the importance of building long term relationships with their clients. They recognise that happy clients will refer business to them.

So why is client satisfaction important for lawyers? 

You are dealing with a client’s money: their livelihood. You are also touching on their very core being: through your ability to gain their trust.

Case Study

A lawyer from a very well-known large legal firm clearly sees no need whatsoever to build up a relationship with his client. In fact he has misread his client completely. It has not even entered his mind that his work is about building a relationship of trust with his client.

The client is someone who takes time to trust others no matter how well-qualified they may be. The lawyer fails to see this. The client responds well when others’ take time to connect with him and get to understand his point of view. The lawyer sees need no need for this. He wants to get to the crux of the issue quickly and get this case off his hands as soon as possible.

The end result, throughout the whole process the client never feels understood by the lawyer. Nor does he feel that the lawyer has his best interests at heart. In fact he does not trust the lawyer who comes across as quite dismissive at times when he raises issues. At one stage the client even wonders whether the lawyer is actually siding with the other party and their lawyer!

There were various times that the client considered “firing” the lawyer. But that was fraught with complexities.

The client suffered untold stress and anxiety as a direct result of the lawyer.  His work suffered enormously.

This lawyer may be good at winning cases but seriously lacks emotional and social intelligence.  The bottom-line question: Will the client refer other people to this lawyer. The answer: An emphatic “No”.

So in a nutshell why is client satisfaction important? 

  • It demonstrates the level of trust between a client and the lawyer
  • It shows the extent to which the client feels heard and understood by the lawyer
  • It further shows the client that his lawyer has his best interests at heart and that it is not solely about winning a case or keeping his ego in tact
  • It highlights whether a client feels they got value for money or not.

If you would like to be known for more than your technical expertise, you may be keen to develop your emotional and relationship intelligence. What you need to ask yourself is: “What can I do to make my interaction with a client a positive experience?”

Your behaviour impacts the mental, emotional, psychological and physical well-being of your clients. Perhaps you do not realise this?


Posted in Client retention, Lawyers.