Have you ever asked yourself, “Is my firm successfully attracting every potential client?” You could wonder if you are missing a golden opportunity. You may need to convince your partners to reach out beyond your firm’s traditional target market. It is not just about “doing the right thing,” legal regulatory compliance, or meeting Lexcel standards. It makes good business sense.
The plain fact is that in the highly competitive legal services market, if your firm does not welcome clients from every area of our diverse society, you are missing out. Having a positive and informed approach to diversity means you will broaden your potential client base.
Take a step back; do not just see equality and diversity as politically correct “box ticking”. Recognise it as a significant business differentiator for your firm. It need not be difficult or costly to achieve. Opening your eyes to the possibilities is a good starting point.
Ask yourself the question, “How do we cater for clients who are outside our traditional client base?” For example:
- What arrangements do we make for blind or partially sighted clients? Can they read our website? Do we offer our documents in large print or in braille?
- Does our network of influencers and introducers include people from the LGBT community? A good way of extending your network is to become actively involved in community-based projects – incidentally it is also a great way to develop your firm’s people.
- Are we welcoming clients who may be perceived as “different” from our traditional clients? If a client has periodic depression or schizophrenia, do we understand how we accommodate them in meeting their legal needs?
- Do we train our people to embrace diversity? The firm must support people in understanding what is expected of them and how to meet those standards.
- When thinking about strategic planning, do we review how the changing demographics of our local community affect our target market? Do we adjust our strategic plan to meet those changes? How?
- Can we offer different options for accessing our services to clients who may be constrained in using the firm? For example, you could offer variable hours for clients who may have caring responsibilities for young children or elderly or sick relatives.
Firms often only address equality and diversity because they “have to have a policy” for accreditation. It becomes a compliance matter. It is true that if you are Lexcel accredited then a policy is mandatory. You do not even have to be accredited as the law and Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct applies to every solicitor and employee. Turn a perceived burden into a client winning strategy.
As attitudes change and technology enables people to live in more flexible ways, firms that embrace diversity win new business. By not responding positively you are denying your firm the opportunity to develop its business in significant areas of potential clients.
Enderley Consulting offers training in Equality and Diversity. This training can be delivered at your firm’s offices at reasonable cost. It also satisfies the requirement for mandatory Equality and Diversity training required by Lexcel and other accreditation schemes. For more details, contact Ian Jones firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01939 262502.