30. August 2019

The client, the unknown entity – understanding client requirements

The second article in my series "Client orientation in law firms" deals with the expectations of our clients. Studies show that not only the legal quality of our services plays a role, but that two soft factors also play a decisive role in client evaluation.

The first step in my small series about client orientation is entitled “A better understanding of client requirements”. But then, why waste any ink on this? After all, we lawyers know all about that. Clients require us to provide them with professional, legally correct advice concerning a legal issue or with a juridically flawless representation in a legal dispute. That’s it – or maybe not?

First the good news: of course it’s important for us to do our legal work as well as possible. The purchasers of legal services expect us to. But the question is: was that all, or is there more to it?

Countless studies have recently been dealing with the question of the expectations our clients have of our work. The results of this research can be easily mapped along the so called means-end-chain (please click for a picture).

Naturally it does not come as a surprise that besides the legal quality of a lawyer’s work, other, soft factors also play a part for our clients. What does come as a surprise, though, are the two following things:

1) When it comes to the assessment of our service by clients, the soft factors (“packaging”, solution orientation, emotional value, improvement of their standing and social acceptance) play a much greater role than the legal core service. Yet when all is said and done, this is also hardly surprising: the vast majority of clients are in no position whatsoever to evaluate a lawyer’s work in purely technical terms.

Executive School Programmes:
Law & Management

Management for the Legal Profession

Business administration skills for lawyers subsequent to the EMBA

2) The provision of the minimum legal service (correct legal advice) only results in a situation whereby the client is not dissatisfied. Clients are only satisfied or even enthusiastic when a service meets their other requirements or even exceeds their expectations.

In my next blog post, we’ll go a step further and talk about whether the creation of client segments for the improvement of a law firm’s client orientation makes sense and how this is brought about.

Image Source: Istockphoto


Don't miss our updates

Don't miss our updates - sign up to our weekly newsletter.

Please wait...

Thank you for signing up to our updates!

About the author
Prof. Dr. Leo Staub Academic Director of the Executive School of Management, Technology & Law at the University of St.Gallen until May 2020 and Professor Emeritus of Private and Business Law at the University of St. Gallen.