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    Practicing Law: 5 Benefits of Effective Listening

    Practicing Law: 5 Benefits of Effective Listening

      Good communication is critical in the legal profession—and we’re not just talking about presenting persuasive arguments. For an attorney, active listening is just as essential for building relationships with and effectively serving clients, witnesses, and anyone else you may interact with.  

      What is effective listening?  

      Before you can effectively advocate for your clients, you need to fully understand their issues and concerns.  

      To do this, you need to listen well. But listening isn’t just about hearing what the other person has to say—it also involves helping them feel comfortable, processing the information they’re sharing, confirming that you’ve understood it correctly, and asking the right follow-up questions.  

      The more information you can gather through effective listening, the better you can use it to improve client relationships and work through legal cases.  

      Listening isn’t just for clients, though. The better you listen to your colleagues, the more you can gain from their experiences.  

      Here are our top five benefits of effective listening for lawyers.  

      1. Listening contributes to case analysis and strategy  

      Listening is a complex act that involves simultaneous hearing, processing, and decision-making about whether and when to speak. The act of listening is deeply intertwined with thinking and learning.  

      A lawyer who can listen effectively and consistently during long meetings and lengthy testimonies will have a head start on case analysis. Identifying potential issues, categorizing relevant knowns and unknowns, and prioritizing the following steps are all analytical and strategic tasks that are greatly aided by effective listening. 

      Part of this process should include communicating this information. If you’ve taken thorough notes during a client’s strategy session, ensure it gets added to matter documentation in your case management software so the rest of your team stays in the know.  

      2. Listening helps avoid surprises later  

      Surprises are unavoidable in law practice. As a lawyer, you know all too well how frustrating it can be when, after a witness has flailed on the stand or a client has found documents that should have been produced earlier, you suddenly recall something that was said earlier, foreshadowing the exact event now happening. 

      Effective listening isn’t robotically tied to an outline or checklist. It’s spontaneous.  

      And spontaneous listening allows you to make adjustments and veer off script after hearing something that isn’t quite right. Carefully listening for potential surprises enables you to ask better questions and listen with more focus on the specific answers, minimizing the risk of surprises down the road. 

      Case Management Tip: How to Win Back Control and Never Lose It Again

      If you feel like you’re drowning in tasks because of all your cases, here’s how to regain control of your workload.

      3. Listening helps with setting priorities  

      Effective listening provides cues about how to best prioritize work, whether you’re discussing legal matters with a client or an assignment with a senior lawyer. 

      Listening to clients 

      Listening carefully to the client is crucially important. The better you understand their goals, the better you can tailor your legal services. Additionally, paying close attention to how they feel about these goals—and their legal matters as a whole—can help you take their needs and beliefs into consideration as you shape your work.  

      When you carefully listen to your clients, you can learn more about the common pain points that you may be able to fix, whether they’re specific issues with a legal matter, paperwork challenges and authority conflicts, or otherwise.  

      Listening to colleagues  

      Likewise, listening to colleagues working on the same legal matter is crucial to set priorities within your firm. When a senior lawyer meets with a junior lawyer to delegate an assignment, for example, that conversation contains many cues that can help the junior lawyer beyond what is due and when. The junior lawyer may be able to glean the senior lawyer’s pain points in working on this case or in working with other lawyers and consider them in future matters.  

      And when the junior lawyer returns to the senior lawyer to discuss a project, the senior lawyer can also pick up valuable cues through listening. What additional facts need to be investigated? What issues were on the periphery of the main question? Listening to the junior lawyer, including what they may have hesitated to put down in writing, can assist with ongoing decisions about the case. 

      Whether you’re setting priorities for clients or colleagues, these priorities need to be communicated. To do this, implement clear processes for task management. One easy way to do this is to use workflow templates so that once you identify a priority, you can set work into motion with just a few clicks.  

      4. Listening generates more work in the future—in a good way 

      Giving someone your undivided attention is a generous act—a gift. Offering that gift to clients builds relationships and increases their chances of returning to your firm in the future. Likewise, listening effectively to colleagues may result in more cases or other opportunities such as networking and speaking. 

      Think of effective listening as a long-term investment. When you listen carefully, you don’t just make a good first impression. You reap several lasting benefits, such as an enhanced understanding of your legal work and a variety of strategic options for addressing the goals of your clients and colleagues alike—both of which can help you advance in your legal career.  

      If you want to take your listening to the next level, use new insight to tailor communications with clients. For example, if your client shares an important workplace anniversary with you, make note of that in your contact management system. When the anniversary comes around, send them personalized congratulations.  

      5. Listening supports better client communication 

      For law firms, excellent client communication can enhance your reputation, keep clients happy, and generate return business and referrals. Your listening skills can help you assess whether your client is interested in exploring all the legal matters of the case, or just needs a basic explanation of what’s happening. The better you understand their needs and concerns, the better you can help them understand their legal matters using plain language.  

      Enhance client communication with Rocket Matter 

      Implementing the right law firm software is a great way to take your client relationships to the next level. Rocket Matter was designed specifically for law firms to help in every area of operation—but it’s especially advantageous when communicating consistently with your clients.  

      With Rocket Matter, you can create client portals where you can streamline client communications, answering any questions and helping them stay up-to-date on any new developments in their case.  

      Schedule a demo today to get a head start on improving your client communications.

      Case Management Tip: How to Win Back Control and Never Lose It Again

      If you feel like you’re drowning in tasks because of all your cases, here’s how to regain control of your workload.

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