Having commercial acumen enables practitioners to be more client-centric
To cater more effectively to clients, lawyers need to not only be knowledgeable about the law, but they need to be business aware as well.
“There are many steps new lawyers can take to further their commercial awareness and business acumen,” Russell McVeagh litigation solicitor Fayez Shahbaz said. “Reading the news, whether its news alerts, the morning report, or the newspaper, can be a good source of current business information.”
Rachita Maker presented the concept of the “T-shaped lawyer” in a 2020 LinkedIn article, with the horizontal line indicating broader business and commercial acumen and the vertical line standing for legal skills. By bolstering business acumen, lawyers are able to be more client-centric in their approach.
“If you want to know more about a particular client or a regulatory agency, read their annual reports. They can be a treasure trove of information specific to the client, their perspective on the relevant industry, and strategic vision and priorities,” Shahbaz said.
Auckland divorce lawyer Jeremy Sutton explained that all lawyers can become more client-centric – all it takes is “making some changes to the way you run your practice.”
“Like the adoption of remote working, the move to customer-centric legal service delivery will be even more rapid now and firms need to ensure they are redesigning their firms around the needs of their clients,” Juno Legal director Helen Mackay said.
Lawyers can also become more client-centric through open and clear communication, virtual services and electronic billing. Indeed, technology goes a long way towards enhancing client relationships.
“What legal technology does do is give us the opportunity to have the time and bandwidth to really develop those types of skills and build meaningful relationships,” Dentons Kensington Swan solicitor Amelia Retter said.