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LexisNexis® New Zealand | 2023 Legal Insights
LexisNexis New Zealand conducted extensive research on the changes that Legal Industry experienced over the last 7 years. These insights include but are not limited to what legal clients want, expect, and receive in terms of legal services. This detailed research helped LexisNexis understand the perception of legal professionals in the industry, service level expectations, the factors that influence the decisions and considerations in engaging legal services, and the importance of innovation in legal services client engagement.
- Service satisfaction summary
How well did your legal service meets the expectations of clients? How satisfied were your clients with the legal services provided by you or your legal firm?
- Pricing your legal services
How fair is your pricing structure from your client’s perspective? Do you think your pricing is clearly explained to your customers before your work starts on their case?
- Attributes your clients use to describe you
Which three words would your clients use to describe you / your legal firm in general? Is it knowledgeable or arrogant? Trustworthy or intimidating?
- Conventional vs Progressive
Do your clients see you as being progressive and forward-thinking, or more traditional and conventional?
- Legal Industry vs Other Industries
How does the service you provided to your clients compare to the service level they have received from other industries (ex: utility companies, real estate agents, etc.)?
Get instant access to all six whitepaper reports now and receive a compilation of these six reports in one file in March 2024. It will be a valuable resource for your law firm in 2024 to refer to in order to improve your client engagement and be exceptional in delivering your services.
What are your clients saying about you?
It’s more than just fees, the absence of transparent communication creates a divide between clients and their lawyers.
Jacqueline So of NZ Lawyer sat down with the LexisNexis NZ team to talk about the results of the organisation’s latest research survey on how clients and consumers view the legal profession.
The legal profession has often been subject to criticism on a global scale, perpetuating stereotypes, and misconceptions. Unfortunately, lawyers have often been the target of jokes, unfairly characterized as arrogant and opportunistic individuals who take advantage of clients through complex legal jargon and loopholes. It's important to note that the media has played a significant role in perpetuating these negative perceptions, particularly among those who have never had the opportunity to work with a lawyer.
However, recent findings from LexisNexis NZ's latest survey shed light on a different perspective. The survey indicates that the main issue clients face is not with lawyers themselves, but rather with the lack of transparent communication. This lack of transparency contributes to the perception that lawyers are untrustworthy, and it also leads to clients feeling surprised by unexpected fees that were not clearly communicated at the beginning of the legal engagement.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of clients' opinions on their legal representatives and to identify ways lawyers can better serve client needs, LexisNexis NZ conducted the research in collaboration with global research company Kantar. They spoke to 5 client groups (over 420 respondents), including business decision makers/owners, consumers, corporate decision makers who utilised in-house counsel, in-house counsel engaging external legal services, and potential legal clients in New Zealand.
A consistent theme that emerged from the survey was that most clients felt that lawyers did not communicate clearly about the costs of legal services. Only 58% of business clients reported that their lawyers provided clear information about the likely cost of work or fixed fees. The percentage was slightly higher among personal clients (65%), but it dipped among in-house counsel who engaged in external legal services (48%).
Furthermore, only 39% of in-house counsel who engaged external legal services felt that lawyers explained their charging system at the beginning of their engagement. This figure was slightly higher among personal clients (55%) and business clients (61%).
One personal client shared their perspective, emphasizing the importance of clear communication and proactive customer service: "[Lawyers] should inform me about what to expect and explain the rules. Providing extra value through regular check-ins with the customer, ensuring that everything is handled properly and that the customer is well-informed throughout the entire process, would be highly appreciated."
Transparency about fees and charges has been a recurring concern, as evidenced by a similar survey conducted by LexisNexis in 2016. Merv Giam, head of marketing at LexisNexis NZ, raised questions about the challenges lawyers face in allocating time for client care and communication. He suggested that leveraging the right resources, skills, legal technology, and systems could potentially provide lawyers with more time to focus on client needs and cultivate a proactive partnership, for the all-important repeat and referral clientele.
Giam emphasized that improved communication channels create an opportunity for lawyers to clearly outline their charges and set service level expectations. He also highlighted the evolving role of lawyers, which, in addition to advancing the rule of law and ensuring access to justice, now places greater emphasis on client care and service as the world becomes more interconnected and commercialized.
In addition to clearer communication about fees, respondents from the business client side expressed a desire for lawyers to avoid assuming that clients understand legal terms and their significance. Personal clients and in-house counsel also indicated their preference for regular updates on their matter, and in most cases even when there is no significant update to report.
Despite these areas for improvement, the majority of clients who engaged lawyers and law firms expressed satisfaction with the services provided. Among business clients, 77% felt that their lawyers met their expectations, representing a 2% increase compared to 2016. Additionally, 14% believed that their lawyers exceeded their expectations, showing a 4% increase from 2016.
For personal clients, there was a slight improvement as well, with 64% feeling that their lawyers met their expectations (a 1% increase), and 20% stating that their expectations were exceeded (same as in 2016). In the case of in-house counsel engaging external legal services, 78% felt that their expectations were met, while 9% felt that their expectations were exceeded.
The question for lawyers to explore is, is it good enough to just meet expectations? Will this instil confidence in your clients to refer your firm for future matters or should lawyers aim to exceed expectations? And the big question is, what does exceeding expectations mean to your client?
LexisNexis is providing an in-depth 6-part report and insights complete with a free checklist for lawyers and firms to use to assess their own processes and clients to evaluate where they benchmark against this research.
Download the 6th out of 6 whitepapers providing insights on changes that the Legal Industry experienced over the last 7 years.