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Why good communication is the key to success

Here, a multi-award-winning GC and public speaker underscores the importance of effective communication for lawyers, showcasing how this vital skill is instrumental to success.

user iconGrace Robbie 25 June 2024 Corporate Counsel
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Speaking on a recent episode of The Corporate Counsel Show, Theo Kapodistrias, a general counsel for Evergen, award-winning public speaker, and author, discussed the importance of effective and proficient communication within the legal profession. He also provided valuable insights and strategies on how lawyers can enhance communication with clients to achieve successful outcomes.

From an early stage, Kapodistrias recognised the critical importance of acquiring practical and impactful communication skills as a valuable asset for future employment in the legal field.

“I remember back in high school, we had a careers-building workshop, and they had a former graduate pop in. She said one of the most employable and important skills that you need to learn and become really competent at is communication.


“I sat and thought about that for years on, and I thought, she’s actually right. This person is so correct,” he said.

In the early stages of his career, Kapodistrias recalled a defining moment when he noticed that his clients frequently sought clarification, which prompted him to understand the importance of honing his communication skills in order to convey legal advice effectively.

“The first role I had was as an in-house lawyer when I was a graduate. I remember speaking with a client, and I said something I thought was pretty basic, but they came back and said, ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying. Can you please explain this again?’

“I continually had these conversations, and I thought, you know what, I’m not effectively communicating my advice to clients in a way that they understand,” he said.

In light of these events, Kapodistrias dedicated himself to honing his ability to tailor information effectively, ensuring its suitability for the intended audience and its precise articulation in written form.

“I worked really hard on improving these skills of how I position information so it’s appropriate for the people that I’m working with, and then from a written format,” he said.

In his role as in-house counsel, Kapodistrias recognised the significance of refining his communication skills to ensure that the information he dispensed was readily understandable and beneficial to all parties with whom he engaged.

“When you’re in-house counsel, of course, you end up doing a lot of training. So you have to go into a room and you have to communicate new legal concepts to people, and this stuff can be confusing.

“Every time I had to think, how do I make this as useful and important and valuable to the people that are listening as I can?” he said.

Kapodistrias emphasised the importance of thorough preparation before any training or presentation to ensure that all participants benefit from each interaction.

“I do a lot of that preparation work in advance of any training, presentation or work that I would do to make sure that it was the most useful piece of time for everyone that was there. It’s that preparation work that was really critical for me,” he said.

In his approach to ensuring effective communication, Kapodistrias emphasised the importance of customising information to fit the specific audience.

“There’s this one thing I always think about, which is that you need to really be clear on who your audience is, but with that, any information you provide needs to be in context for them,” he said.

Kapodistrias stressed that he came to this realisation early in his career when he recognised the unique difference in each person he encountered during his interactions.

“This is something I learned pretty quickly, that your different business partners and business units that you work with, they’re all going to be different. So you can’t provide the same answer to each person who might ask the same question because it needs to be relevant and in context for them,” he said.

He provided valuable insights into the key and essential questions that lawyers should ask themselves to evaluate the effectiveness of their communication.

“There are a lot of questions you could ask yourself, including, do you tailor your information to the particular audience that you’re talking to? Do you find that you get a lot of questions coming back to you by people asking for further clarification or more assistance based on what you’ve said?” he said.

Kapodistrias further said: “That’s a really good starting point, but I think as well, communication is one of those skills that you can always seek to improve and you can always do more to work on.”

“Even if you think you’re good at it, which I’m sure many people in the general counsel position would be, there’s always room to improve, and there’s always room to see, seek to do more and to focus on improving, improving that skill.”