Listening skills

Perfecting Listening Skills For Solicitors

In any profession, effective communication is paramount but when it comes to communication, listening skills are equally as important in the process. Particularly as a solicitor, your ability to listen attentively is crucial for understanding your clients’ needs, building trust, and providing the best possible legal advice.

Listening skills play a pivotal role in achieving success and fostering strong client relationships. Furthermore, listening skills are also essential for maintaining a good working relationship with your colleagues and peers within the legal profession.

According to recent studies, we can spend anything between 70-80% of our day engaging in some form of communication, and when it comes to listening, 55% of that time is devoted to listening. However, further studies have shown that only 25% of the information received is retained. So, are we truly listening and fully receiving the message being delivered?

In this article, we will explore the importance of listening skills for solicitors and provide valuable tips to enhance this essential skill.

Why listening skills matter

  In any of the connections we have with our fellow humans, listening is an important skill to enhance these connections, whether it’s a personal relationship, a friendship, comradery with your colleagues or building a rapport with clients.

Listening skills are not just about hearing the words being spoken; they involve actively engaging with the speaker, understanding their perspective, and empathizing with their concerns. By honing your listening skills, you can greatly benefit your legal practice.

First and foremost, effective listening helps build trust, which in the legal profession, is essential. Actively listening to your clients demonstrates that you value their input and are committed to understanding their needs. This fosters trust and strengthens the client-solicitor relationship. Trust is the foundation of any successful legal engagement, be it with your clients or your colleagues and peers, so by listening attentively, you can establish a solid rapport with your clients and your team.

Listening skills

Additionally, listening skills allow you to gather accurate or valuable information. As the Dalai Lama once said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But when you listen, you may learn something new”. Through effective listening, solicitors can obtain comprehensive and relevant information, enabling them to analyse and assess legal matters more accurately. This helps in crafting appropriate legal strategies and solutions tailored to clients’ specific situations. By truly understanding the details and nuances of a case or transaction, solicitors can provide the best possible advice and representation.

Furthermore, effective listening enhances problem-solving abilities. By actively listening, solicitors can identify key issues and concerns. Understanding the complete picture and the underlying motivations and goals of the client is essential for developing innovative and effective solutions. Through active listening, solicitors can gather all the necessary information and address the core needs of their clients, leading to more successful outcomes.

Listening skills also contribute to providing empathetic counsel. Active listening allows solicitors to truly understand their clients’ perspectives and emotions. By empathizing with clients, solicitors can provide a supportive and caring environment during challenging legal situations. This empathetic approach can have a significant impact on clients’ emotional well-being and overall satisfaction with legal services. Clients are more likely to feel heard and understood when solicitors actively listen to their concerns, which can result in better overall client experiences.

Tips to Improve Listening Skills

Now that we understand the significance of listening skills, let’s explore some practical tips to enhance this essential skill set.

Stay present

We all know how disconcerting it is when we are trying to communicate with someone and we can see the person’s attention is clearly elsewhere. So, try and put yourself in the shoes of the person who is speaking to you. When engaging with your clients or colleagues, focus on the conversation at hand.

Avoid distractions and give your undivided attention to the speaker. Consider using some positive non-verbal cues to let the speaker know you’re listening attentively, such as maintaining eye contact or nodding occasionally in response.

Practice active listeningListening skills


There’s listening and then there’s Active Listening. This form of listening involves more than just hearing words – it’s about understanding the meaning and intent behind those words. To practice active listening, you must fully engage with the speaker and demonstrate your understanding.

Here are three techniques to master active listening for solicitors:

  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage clients to express themselves fully.
  • Paraphrase information to ensure clarity and confirm your comprehension.
  • Provide feedback to show that you are actively processing the information and considering their perspective.
Cultivate empathy

It has been said that “the highest form of knowledge is empathy”, and there’s certainly a lot to be learnt from those around us. Empathy is such an important factor when it comes to connecting with those around us, particularly when it comes to our clients and colleagues.

So how can we practice empathy in a workplace setting? Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and try to understand their perspective, particularly as they may be going through a stressful situation, be it a purchase of a new home or a personal injury case. Empathy allows you to connect on a deeper level, showing your clients that you genuinely care about their concerns and are dedicated to finding the best solutions for them. Empathy helps build trust and strengthens the client-solicitor relationship.

Avoid assumptions

You know how the old saying goes, never assume, as it makes an ass out of you and me!

Be cautious about making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. Each client is unique, and their circumstances require careful consideration. By avoiding assumptions, you allow space for clients to fully express themselves, leading to a more accurate understanding of their needs. This ensures that your advice and guidance are tailored to their specific situation.

Be patient

Patience is a great attribute to have both for personal and professional relationships but it’s also a good listening technique as it allows the other person to speak without interruption.

Furthermore being patient allows for listening to understand, not to respond. This avoids the possibility of you filling periods of silence with your own thoughts or stories. Essentially, you shouldn’t be preparing a reply while the other person is still speaking. Also, don’t change the subject too abruptly as this conveys boredom and impatience.

Improve your listening skills with continuous learningListening skills


There’s always room for improvement when it comes to communication skills, and the art of listening is no different. It’s highly beneficial to get some feedback from clients, colleagues, and mentors to identify areas for growth, and we shared some great ways on getting feedback from clients in a previous article here.

Another option is to consider attending professional development courses or workshops that focus on effective communication to enhance your listening skills further. Embrace a growth mindset and commit to continually improving your listening abilities.

Ready to perfect your listening skills?

So what’s the takeaway from this? Essentially, solicitors who can master the art of listening gain a competitive edge in their profession. By actively listening to clients and colleagues, solicitors can build trust, gather accurate information, and most importantly, establish strong, lasting relationships with both their clients and their team mates within their law firm.

Remember, the power of listening goes beyond hearing words—it’s about understanding, empathy, and instilling trust between you and the person who is speaking.

Take the initiative to improve your listening skills today, and witness the positive impact it has on your legal practice. Your clients and co-workers will appreciate your attentiveness, and your reputation as a trusted solicitor will flourish. By perfecting your listening skills, you can elevate your legal career and provide the highest level of service to your clients, as well as encouraging a respectful environment within your law firm.

And if you would like to know more about building long standing relationships with clients, we have an interesting webinar for you. In Lawyer For Life – How to Optimise and Maximise Client Relationships, we are joined by two powerhouses of the legal world, Teresa Payne and Nigel Harper, to discuss the concept of a “lawyer for life” and we will be taking a look at the life-time-value our clients can bring, if we nurture them effectively. You can book this webinar and many more here, watch in your own time, and receive your CPD cert straight into your inbox.

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