find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Client needs to know

Client needs to know

Responsiveness and providing value for money can backfire, according to a business consultant who believes the key to understanding client needs lies in psychological theory.

Being responsive and providing value for money can backfire, according to a business consultant who believes the key to understanding client needs lies in psychological theory.

Melissa Wraith (pictured), senior consultant at Mext, told Lawyers Weekly that many client needs are misinterpreted and not fulfilled. She explained that rankings, such as levels of responsiveness, can frustrate clients as firms make off-target attempts to improve service quality.

Wraith provided the example of an in-house counsel who received dozens of emails each day from the firms he was dealing with. She explained that the firms believed they were meeting a client need to be responsive but the in-house counsel found their emails “immensely frustrating”.

“Everyone was being responsive but no one stopped to think: does he need this correspondence?”

Another client service “fail” was a firm that invited a general counsel, who took her daughter to school each morning, to breakfast functions over a period of eight years. “She didn’t go to one function and the firm never asked why,” said Wraith.

This illustrates how client needs vary depending on the situation, she continued, adding that needs are rarely expressed in routine conversations with clients.

Trying to identify client needs without being explicitly told what they are is complicated, admitted Wraith, who has, on occasion, found it difficult to explain ‘needs modelling’ to lawyers.

Needs modelling is an approach to profiling clients that has been used for more than 20 years in a number of industries but is rarely used in legal services. For a law firm, developing a needs model can take the form of a half-day workshop to educate a practice group on the specific needs of its client base, or a training module where solicitors can gain a general understanding of needs and motivations within their sector.

“By looking at the behaviours and language their clients are using, and the sorts of work they’re using the firm for, we can identify areas of unfulfilled need,” Wraith said.

Following an extensive consultation process, Mext has attempted to make the complex psychological theory more palatable to lawyers. The names of client needs have been devised with lawyers in mind, like the ‘huffing and bluffing’ need and the ‘playing the rules’ need, which refers to enjoying the intellectual challenge of juggling rules and turning them on their head.

Mext does not currently have any law firms as clients, but Wraith revealed the company is approaching a range of mid-tier and top-tier firms. She added that boutiques could also benefit from needs modelling given the specific areas in which they operate.

With no case studies under its belt, the challenge for Mext is to convince firms that needs modelling, which has been successfully implemented in other sectors, could provide similar benefits to the legal industry.

“If we can demonstrate ways in which [lawyers] can work with clients to better fulfil client needs then hopefully they will see it as a way to differentiate themselves in the market,” she said.

“It’s about breaking through that idea that ... things that work for other people won’t work for them because they’re special and different.”

Mext also provides brand consultancy services to law firms and worked with Mallesons on its merger with King & Wood last year.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Client needs to know
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...