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Communication skills for solicitors

Communication Skills for Solicitors & Using The Right Tone of Voice

In the modern world, there’s an increasing number of ways for humans to connect with one another, however, good communication skills are more important than ever for professional and personal relationships. In fact, Richard Branson once went as far as to say that “Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess”. The solicitor of today must wear many hats – leadership being one of them and a master of communicating being another.

For solicitors, perfecting the art of communication is key, particularly when it comes to choosing the appropriate tone of voice. It can be the difference between winning or losing a case, or it can be the rise or fall of an established client base. Needless to say, these skills are vital for building strong relationships with clients and colleagues alike.

Here, we explore why communication skills are so important to solicitors in daily practice and how using the right tone of voice can help to build trust with clients and enhance client interactions.

Why good communication skills are essential for the role of a solicitor

Communication skills for solicitors

Good communication is more than just talking and writing. It’s about connecting with clients, making complex legal ideas easier to understand, and negotiating well. For solicitors, having the ability to communicate means being able to listen carefully as well as speak and write clearly.

For the average person enlisting the services of a solicitor, making sense of the legal jargon can be a challenge in itself. Whether it’s a person purchasing their first home, someone navigating probate following the death of a loved one, or an injured party seeking justice in the event of an accident. All these types of scenarios trigger feelings of stress, confusion, and upheaval for those involved.

For the client, legal representation is much more than simply resolving their case – it’s about having expert guidance and support from someone they can trust and rely on. A client needs reassurance that their solicitor will negotiate an outcome that best serves their interests. They want a solicitor who will offer honest advice, whilst listening attentively to their concerns. And most importantly, legal representation is about offering clarity at a time of uncertainty. Communication skills help solicitors to achieve all of these goals with their clients.  

Within a law firm, communication skills are equally essential for the ultimate success of the team. The resolution of a legal case lies in the hands of a whole legal team, not just one solo solicitor. Successful outcomes are born out of a united team working together to achieve their common goal. Being able to communicate effectively and share ideas fosters an environment of collaboration and teamwork.

Choosing the right of tone of voice

Firstly, what do we mean when we talk about tone of voice? Essentially, your tone of voice is the manner in which you communicate with someone, not just your words. According to Tony Robbins, a “tone of voice is an essential element of communication that often ‘speaks’ more powerfully that your actual words ever could”. To put this into numbers, have you heard of the 7-38-55 rule around communication? This well known rule states that verbal words constitute only 7% of communication, while tone of voice accounts for 38%, with the final 55% down to body language.

Particularly in an era of multi-channel communication, a tone of voice is often misunderstood in communications via email or text message. And this is certainly true for busy solicitors who are balancing their workload whilst maintaining communications with their clients and colleagues through a wide range of channels. When it comes to face-to-face interactions however, choosing the right tone of voice can have an impact on how that message is received.

A tone of voice is also an indication of the firm’s ethos and culture, as well as helping to build trust. A friendly and understanding tone can make clients feel at ease, while a cold or overly technical tone might put them off. The right tone makes sure important advice is not just heard but understood and valued.

The best advice we can give here is for solicitors to put themselves in the shoes of a client or customer. Consider how you would like a message to be conveyed at a time of stress or uncertainty. Let’s look at some key communication strategies that solicitors can use in daily practice.

Key communication skills for solicitors

Communication skills for solicitors

  • Clear and simple: There’s no doubt that legal issues can be complex. It’s important to keep explanations clear and straightforward so clients can understand their options. Remember, for the client, this may their first time faced with a particular legal issue. Understanding the terminology will be akin to learning a foreign language so bear this in mind when explaining the legal process.
  • Active listening: Good communication isn’t just about talking; it’s also about listening. Understanding clients’ needs is crucial for building strong relationships. When scheduling appointments with clients, ensure that sufficient time is given to allow for the client to ask questions and highlight any concerns they may have.
  • Showing empathy: The stress of going through a legal issue can often lead to heightened emotions, particularly for family law cases. Understanding and sharing the feelings of clients can improve communication as it encourages a more open discussion between client and solicitor. Having empathy helps solicitors tailor their messages to meet clients’ emotional and practical needs.
  • Being adaptable: Every client is different, and so are their legal issues. Adjusting communication style and tone for each client is important as it demonstrates an understanding of individual client needs and responses.
How communication affects client relationships

 As already stated, effective communication skills are essential for developing strong client relationships. They can turn a one-time client into a long-term advocate for the firm. Here’s how:

  • Building trust: Clients trust solicitors with personal and sensitive issues. A tone that shows understanding and professionalism helps build this trust.
  • Improving satisfaction: When clients feel understood, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the service. This can lead to successful outcomes and more referrals. Remember, when a client has a negative experience, they are more likely to spread the word about their experience with friends, family etc.
  • Avoiding misunderstandings: Clear communication helps make sure everyone is on the same page. This reduces the chance of a misunderstanding which in turn could damage the relationship between solicitor and client.
Improving communication skills

Communication skills for solicitors

Mastering the art of communication takes continuous effort. Here are some simple yet effective ways solicitors can improve their interactions:

  • Keep learning: Look for training and workshops on communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Practice listening: Make an effort to listen more in every conversation, not just with clients but also with colleagues.
  • Get feedback: Regular feedback from clients and colleagues can help identify strengths and areas for improvement. Client testimonials are a great way to seek feedback from satisfied clients.
  • Think about tone: After conversations, think about the tone used and whether it was effective. Consider making changes for future interactions.

Practice your Communication skills within the Solicitors Growth Network

As humans, we communicate in so many ways with those around us, but how many of our interactions are truly effective? Shouldn’t it be a case of quality over quantity? Afterall, the great George Bernard Shaw once said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. While this statement is clearly tinged with humour, it does call into question the difference between people simply talking and actually communicating successfully.

For solicitors, having strong communication skills, especially in choosing the right tone of voice, is crucial. It not only enhances the client experience but also helps with professional development and the firm’s reputation. Essentially, the standard of a solicitor’s communication skills, is just as important as their legal knowledge.

At Solicitors Growth, we understand the value of communication skills in the legal profession. More importantly, we know all too well the challenges faced by solicitors in daily practice. Being a solicitor can be an isolating vocation, particularly solo practitioners or those running a small firm. Here’s where the Solicitors Growth Network comes to the rescue. We have created a supportive and informative community with the aim of bringing together solicitors facing the same challenges of private practice and helping them to learn the tools and strategies they need to work smarter so that they can create a life and career they truly want.

You’re never alone with Solicitors Growth – join this great community of colleagues who support and cheer each other on every day.

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