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“The lawyer has always been seen as a professional who should not offer his services like any other merchant, even believing that this goes against the decorum of the profession”.

In social networks it is very common to see Richard Branson’s phrase “Customers don’t come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers”. This sentence summarizes the two fundamental elements of any organization that offers services in the market. Now, on personnel management, there are extensive treatises that can cover the subject in a much deeper and more specialized way, and on how to approach and sustain a stable and lasting customer relationship, new ways of connecting and selling are found every day.
However, when we refer to the lawyer as a professional who is part of the market, there is a problem with the development that he has traditionally had in his relationship with his employees and with his clients. With respect to their employees, because in such a highly competitive environment (in Colombia there are 335 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants), lawyers are wary of teamwork and try to limit it to strictly necessary cases, even though these are increasing every day as new needs and specialties arise in the market; on the other hand, lawyers have always been seen as professionals who should not offer their services like any other merchant, even believing that this goes against the decorum of the profession.
The latter is possibly the most palpable lag within the legal field and which has caused lawyers to miss out on technological advances, limiting their reach in the market and often being relegated by large firms who do have the ability to invade it and offer cheaper services with superior means of advertising.
As a result, law firms (since lawyers now have to understand their profession with a business approach and not as mere personal service providers) need to change their strategy with regard to both their employees and their clients, or, in other words, to begin to treat both equally, to the benefit of the organization.
The first fundamental aspect when dealing with any human being is empathy. Such empathy cannot be limited to understanding the feelings or thoughts of the customer or employee, but is only the starting point for creating a work plan with them. Ongoing communication then becomes the fundamental element for obtaining in-depth knowledge and ensuring that the work to be done with them takes advantage of their strengths.
Just the fact that the client or employee feels that he/she is known in depth, is already an added value that is being granted by the simple fact of belonging to the legal organization and that will generate a sense of belonging that will make the relationship with the organization more lasting.
The benefit of stability not only generates an income or a constant source of work, but also allows the company to set long-term goals, invest in the training of its employees and have a constant process of expansion and development. However, such stability can be counterproductive if it generates excessive comfort for both clients and workers.
This is where the second essential element for managing this customer-employee comes in: challenging him or her. Stability means that the employee remains linked to the company for a long period of time, but not that he/she must perform the same functions during the entire relationship. Therefore, every day should be used to challenge them in their work, in which they are forced to innovate and provide creative solutions that help improve the organization. Challenges also imply trusting the employee sufficiently to let him or her take charge of the situation and not exercising control beyond what is strictly necessary to verify that the stages of the proposed challenge are being met. It is the same behavior that you should have with a client, providing the service in essential aspects that he has not been able to perceive before or even considered as of little importance, so that he dares to innovate in his company by means of the corresponding legal tools.
However, a communication process also implies a constant feedback exercise. Both employees and customers will feel valued if they know that their opinion is taken into account. This implies that the processes of attention and management have a simple procedure, that spaces are established to make their contributions known and that, if they are accepted, a timetable is created to implement them. This synergy is essential for the efficient and productive operation of any company. Ensuring that both sides of the relationship, company-employee and/or client, grow mutually, more than a recommendation, becomes an indispensable requirement to guarantee the existence of such a relationship.
Finally, taking into account that legal companies must set an example at a social level, it is important that their dealings with their employees and clients are strictly linked to what is required by law. This means that not only must the minimum labor standards be respected, but also that they must be constantly informed of changes in the regulation of their relations, new regulations and the ways in which they can exercise their rights. As the jurist Eduardo Couture pointed out in his Decalogue of the Lawyer: “Be loyal: loyal to your customer, whom you must not abandon until you realize that he is unworthy of you. Loyal to your adversary, even if he is disloyal to you. Loyal to the judge, who is ignorant of the facts and must rely on what you say; and who, as to the law, sometime or other must rely on the one you invoke on him.“.
It is then a matter of understanding that this client-employee relationship with the lawyer, although it will develop in the market, never loses its vocation of indispensable service in society and has a high level of demand for what is expected of the professional, with loyalty as a fundamental parameter of the same and transparency in relation to the actions with each of them.
Author: Nestor A. Bedoya Velez.
Editor: Santiago Pinzon Sosa.

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