As a newly admitted lawyer to the profession, a great deal of my time is spent being mentored by the team and shadowing a senior lawyer at the firm. For me, this is proving to be the best way to learn rather than being thrown in the deep end and learning to ‘sink or swim’. So far, one thing I have observed, is the art of deeply listening to our clients, and the value this has on our ability to do justice to their story.
Some might already recognise that personal injury law is a different type of law. It is not your typical black letter law. Yes, there are legal rules and case law to follow, but the main component of our day-to-day life is about managing our client’s emotions and expectations. Our job is to make our clients feel and be heard, and to be able to tell their story the way they intend it to be told. If you are in the position of needing to engage a personal injury lawyer, you are likely experiencing one of the toughest and most vulnerable times of your life.
Deep listening goes further than active listening – it is understanding a person and their situation and being able to show a genuine interest in the conversation. It is open communication without judgment or preconceived ideas, which gives us the ability to build rapport. It is being fully present in the moment and ignoring the mile long ‘to do’ list on your desk.
Take the time and let your client talk, that is the best thing that we, as lawyers, can do for our clients.
As lawyers our job is not to control the conversation – it is to hear what our clients have to say. If we can reassure our clients to be open with us, that connection flourishes and this is where we can really work together. It enables us to be able to tell an authentic story about our client.
To be able to advocate for our clients, we need to be able to tell their story right. What better way to do that than from their perspective – and if you aren’t deeply listening to what they are saying, how are you going to achieve that?
When starting out in the profession it is so important to be able to learn the art of relating to your clients. I am looking forward to growing these skills as time goes on, observing my team in how they deal with clients on a day-to-day basis with deep listening and compassion.
As published in Lawyers Weekly.
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