Grinch Lawyer Syndrome?

Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by Chrissie Lightfoot

What the client wants for Christmas and why “Brand,You” will always trump “Brand,Firm.”

This article was first published in the

“>Law Society Gazette 23rd December 2011 and is reproduced by kind permission.

As Christmas comes but once a year, I’d like to share with you now a simple verse:

‘And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more…’

The above is a verse from my absolutely favourite piece from the Christmas movie The Grinch. You may be thinking where’s Chrissie going with this? So, here’s my take on it…

‘And the Grinch Lawyer, with his Grinch Lawyer-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? They used to come without ribbons. They came even in rags. They came with bribery packages, gift boxes and loadsa cash bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch Lawyer thought of something he hadn’t before. Why don’t clients, he thought, simply walk through the door anymore? What if clients, perhaps, are opting for more. And whilst scratching his puzzler to the very core, trying to figure out how to give clients much more, Grinch Lawyer began to experience a fuzzy feel, as he mumbled and grumbled… WHAT’S THE DEAL?’

As the Grinch begins to understand the true meaning of Christmas I liken it to us lawyers understanding what our clients are really all about and what the true meaning of extraordinary customer service actually is. Have you ever found yourself thinking, feeling and suffering with Grinch Lawyer Syndrome? I have…

Three years ago I was sat at my sparkly desk in Grinch Lawyer Ivory Towers R Us Lair, *hands cupping face and elbows supported on desk*, staring at the office door, glancing every now and again at my email inbox, the telephone and my mobile phone. After a while, I realised that the new legal world order had actually kicked in and things were definitely not going to return to the way they used to be. We were in a new enlightened digital consumer age. Clients weren’t simply going to walk through the door anymore.

What to do when clients are opting for more, I thought? What is more? Why do clients go somewhere else? Who do they go to? Where, when, why? What do clients really want?

Let me share with you now a secret in true Spice Girl style – I’ll tell you what they want, what they really really want. For some of us, it will come as no surprise, but for others it may be rather enlightening… I read a recent survey (research report published October 2011) by Peppermint Technology – only a couple of months ago – entitled What Clients Really Want from a Legal Service Provider. It is the first fully comprehensive research into the role of the customer experience in legal services, post the Legal Services Act.

Obviously, I cannot share with you the entire findings (copyright ‘n’ all). You will have to read the research for yourself. But, I believe I can share with you one wee part of the report, a particularly intriguing piece, no less. The survey report asked a series of questions to law firms, consumers and businesses. Here’s just one example, I think, that will help us understand what our clients would like for Christmas, and beyond.

The following question was asked to consumers and businesses (buyers) of law firms (suppliers): ‘If you were purchasing legal advice how important are these factors?’

Respondents then had to rank six factors in order of importance. One of the six factors to be ranked was ‘they have a trusted brand name’ in relation to the law firm – “Brand,Firm”.

Upshot? Businesses ranked ‘they have a trusted brand name’ LAST; consumers ranked it fourth from last.

This confirms what many people outside the legal profession (and arguably legal industry and legal market) have long since suspected, meaning, clients couldn’t give a rats about “Brand,Firm”. Law firms have zip visibility in terms of their firm brand names and have been wasting their marketing budgets for years on “Brand,Firm” activities.

The research findings also confirm what entrepreneurial lawyers of the Super Lawyer kind, whom I wrote about back in May 2010, realised (The end of lawyers? Pah! This is the time of the ‘super lawyer’), namely, that what clients really really want is “Brand,You”. How can I say this with such confidence and conviction? The number one ranking for businesses with regard to answering this particular question was it was important to ‘know and trust a lawyer that works for the firm’ and for consumers it was ‘the quality and promptness of customer service’.

Ultimately, “Brand,You” trumps “Brand,Firm” in the clients’ heart and mind.

“Brand,Firm” is an entity. It can only have personality if it has a human being (us) breathing life into it. The client is telling us that “Brand,You” is the oxygen to the lifeblood of “Brand,Firm”.

At the very heart of what the client wants is the need for us to extol our soft skills, emotional intelligence, engaging behaviour and extraordinary ‘giving’ focus on them through our “Brand,You”; the elixir for knowing, trusting, quality and promptness of customer service.

What do clients want for Christmas? Grinch Lawyer, or Super Lawyer? I’ll leave you to reflect on what I’ve shared with you here. It just may help to snuff out Grinch Lawyer Syndrome.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for getting involved in my posts throughout 2011 and I look forward to engaging with you in 2012. I wish you the most wonderful, extraordinary, super and ‘naked’ Christmas 🙂


Chrissie Lightfoot
The Entrepreneur Lawyer, CEO EntrepreneurLawyer Limited.
Author of The Naked Lawyer: RIP to XXX – How To Market, Brand & Sell YOU!

Please do feel free to comment on this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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