Mindfulness in Legal Practice: Creating A Positive Experience for Your Clients and Yourself
By Sonia Mann, Attorney
Parikh Law Group
The legal industry has undergone quite an overhaul with regard to customer service goals in the last few years. There has been a noticeable shift from focusing solely on the provision of experienced, professional legal services towards creating a highly customer service-oriented, positive attorney-client relationship and experience. As a result, law firms have had to undergo a complete paradigm shift in the manner in which legal services are marketed and offered. As with medicine, where patient-driven demand led the way to now employing hospital staff specifically to manage the patient care experience, legal clients are now looking for an all-encompassing, professional and experience-based type of representation on their legal matters. Recognizing this trend and the need to include a mindful and positive experience with your clients is imperative to sustaining a thriving legal practice. The relationship you create with your clients is almost as equally important to the results you achieve on their legal matter itself. Not only does your attitude and enthusiasm set the tone of the relationship you have with your clients and opposing counsel, it often has a direct impact on the outcome of many cases. In our experience at PLG, we have found that creating strong, personal relationships with our clients manifests not only a healthy environment but a higher level of trust in our legal services and recommendations. Many clients are seeking assistance from us during times of hardship in their lives such as an immigration matter, corporate issue, or a dispute with another party, to name a few examples. Likewise, they may be seeking expertise in translating their dream of becoming a homeowner or buying a business into a reality. Creating a trustworthy relationship and a safe space for clients to openly discuss their ideas and concerns not only fosters a positive and encouraging environment, it also allows for a more mindful, meaningful experience for both the attorney and their clients. Clients will hopefully look back at the encounter as one that fostered learning and growth, rather than frustration or dissatisfaction.
It may feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to offer such a high level of individualized treatment to each and every client, given attorneys’ heavy caseloads and many responsibilities. However, if you can keep in mind that building a good relationship with your clients from the get-go will in-turn ease much of the stress and anxiety involved in representing so many different people over so many different and complex cases, this will have a direct and beneficial impact on how you feel about your practice. Likewise, your clients will hopefully understand that even if they haven’t heard from you in a while, they know that you are enthusiastically working hard on their case. They’ll have gotten to know you better because you took the time to build a good foundation with them.
There are plenty of techniques that we as attorneys can employ to maintain a positive and peaceful aura in our daily practices so that interactions with our clients and peers are positive. Perhaps creating a peaceful corner in your office space to just take a moment and breathe in every afternoon may help to accomplish this goal. Some attorneys swear by doing light yoga stretches when they feel particularly overwhelmed or unmotivated, and they even keep a yoga mat tucked behind their doors. Some take five minutes and have an afternoon cup of herbal or decaffeinated tea rather than coffee to get them through the day. The takeaway point is, however, you do it – maintaining your well-being is important. It will allow you to keep yourself upbeat so that you can show your clients respect by returning their phone calls, keeping them regularly updated and advised on their cases, and answering their questions which will create a better experience for everyone. Even just acknowledging their phone call or email by simply responding that you’ll get back to them shortly to discuss will resonate more than just not responding at all (which is unacceptable).
While we are not suggesting that you start giving in to unreasonable client behavior or demands (and yes, unfortunately, some people cross the line), or start holding hands singing Kumbaya with your clients, we are encouraging having mindfulness in your practice. This will not only make for a more enjoyable representation experience for you and your clients, it will resonate with them for a long time and serve to build your firm’s reputation in the community. You are more likely to generate repeat business and referrals from being not only effective as legal counsel but friendly and kind to work with, and you’ll be much happier too.