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Talk and Listen to Your Clients


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Now, more than ever. If your firm has ever considered conducting formal client feedback interviews, but has been unable to overcome the obstacles to implementing them, now is the most critical time in recent history to reconsider—there`s no time to waste. The effect of a unique confluence of events makes this process imperative to ensuring that the firm makes informed business decisions about its future.
Talk and Listen to Your Clients
The urgency of this is driven by several factors:
  • The uncertainty about the future demand for professional services firms, law firms included. Clients are making their own plans in light of the fact that the country has gone to war. They are planning for worldwide changes that may occur. Is it business as usual or not? Can we safely work? How much has life—and business—changed as a result of September 11? It is likely, due to the recent tragic events and our country`s response, that some businesses will scale back initiatives that drive the need for legal services.
  • Economic uncertainty abounds, with half of the economists forecasting a long hard haul and the other half a quick turnaround. A recent article in USA Today explained that many economists are making predictions based on their own anecdotal experiences. One went to the theater in New York and because it was crowded, predicted a quick recovery. Another went to an empty amusement park and stayed at an empty hotel, and thus predicted a longer recession. If they are wandering around in the dark, how are we to figure out what to expect?
  • Recently, numerous studies have been released touting corporate America`s dissatisfaction with their outside counsel. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity for firms to distinguish themselves in words and deeds.
  • A new breed of law firms as well as new and aggressive competitors from outside the legal industry have cropped up. Client feedback is invaluable in determining the creative strategies necessary for ensuring that the firm’s platform—a composite of its practice mix, geographic location, and expertise—is viable and enhances its market positioning relative to all of its competitors.
  • As the end of the year approaches, clients will review their legal services expenditures for the past year and make plans and budgets for the next year. In itself, this is nothing unusual. Nevertheless, it takes on a larger significance as it occurs in concert with the other factors.
Benefits Abound. With so much uncertainty around us, it is bad business to try to guess what strategic decisions your clients are making. You must ask your clients, and the best way to do so in a way that yields meaningful information is through face-to-face interviews. As always, there are many benefits to be gained from client interviews, including:
  • discovering new business or service opportunities;
  • uncovering problems and concerns;
  • conveying that the firm truly values the client relationship;
  • determining client reactions to a new idea or strategy;
  • learning why clients chose your firm and other law firms they use;
  • engendering goodwill with clients;
  • determining client satisfaction; and
  • educating clients about the firm;
"It really improved our relationships with our clients," says Aniello Bianco, Managing Director of Chadbourne & Parke, whose firm recently conducted a series of client interviews.

More than satisfaction. There is a common misconception that the sole purpose of face-to-face client interviews is to assess client satisfaction. While they are effective at gauging this information, if satisfaction is the only area covered in your interviews, then you are missing a valuable opportunity to learn so much more. With the proper approach, client interviews elicit information in a host of areas that will allow a firm to appropriately respond and plan to meet ever-changing client needs. The broad range of issues that should be covered include:
  • Philosophy and approach to hiring professional service providers
  • The client`s strategic plans and direction
  • Assessment of "value drivers"
  • Price/billing issues
  • Long-range needs
  • Use of your competitors
  • Satisfaction with firm/individuals
  • Firm`s strengths, weaknesses, and reputation
  • Changing client needs/understanding of the full realm of your services
  • Reaction to marketing approaches and new initiatives
Time and cost. While client interviews can be time-consuming and are not inexpensive, firms that engage in the process virtually always conclude that they have received a high return on their investment dollars.

Finally. Who knows what the future holds for your firm or your clients? None of us have an actual crystal ball, but by engaging in a meaningful dialogue with your clients, you will surely be better prepared to forecast—and plan for—your future. Get off that fence. Both you and your clients will benefit significantly by having that dialogue.
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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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