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Putting Clients First - A Guide for Lawyers by Wilford Smith


The legal sector is abuzz with mentions of artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain. And yet, it can be difficult to discern exactly what impact these technologies will have, or how they will be implemented.

In reality, day-to-day legal practice is much more likely to be impacted by intelligence of a very different kind – emotional intelligence. Wilford Smith, a growing law firm based in Sheffield, are putting Emotional Intelligence - and thus clients - first.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as “the ability for each of us to recognise, understand and manage our own emotions as well as the ability to recognise, understand, manage and influence the emotions of others.”

By contrast, the practice of law is fundamentally logical and analytical. Lawyers are trained from day one to remove emotion from each matter, as far as is possible. That’s fine in the context of working for your client. In that context, rationality trumps sentiment every time.

However, the cold and methodological approach to doing business falls down in one crucial arena – attracting clients in the first place!

At Wilford Smith, putting clients first starts with hiring. Lawyers are sought, amongst other things, for their:

  • Awareness of a client’s needs - and an openness to discussing them
  • Ability to reflect on their strengths and develop as lawyers and people
  • Willingness to seek out and act on feedback

Where Wilford Smith also differ is in their approach to client care. Calling a law firm can be a cold experience. More often than not, the call is handled by a member of staff whose function is primarily administrative rather than BD-focused. What does this mean? Well, it means that an individual with a need (and an associated emotional state) is processed as a task – not as a person.

Rebecca Smith-Bains says:

“There’s usually little in the way of client discovery at this stage. The call is handled perfunctorily - in most cases, the query or question itself is handled (a request for a quote for example) with no other information given and, most damagingly, no information taken!”

“We know that approaching a law firm can be an uncomfortable experience in many cases. There’s the natural apprehension of approaching a professional for advice and the added burden of worry about the outcome and costs.”

Whether the requirement is for making a will, power of attorney, probate, conveyancing or business legal services, most clients will have the same set of questions. In the main, they are:

  • Will you communicate with me?
  • What will it cost?
  • What are the next steps?
  • Who is dealing with my case?

In the main, these are straightforward enough queries but so few law firms actually take the time to formulate a strategy to address them. 

Wilford Smith differ in their approach by placing a strong emphasis on handling each call as a person with a need. The person’s needs, wants and fears are explored at as early a stage as possible, and a progressive profile built up. This enables WIlford Smith to build up a profile of the client not only in respect to their immediate needs, but also with respect to what other legal needs they might have in the future. Someone calling regarding a conveyancing transaction will almost certainly need a will or power of attorney at some point. It’s this approach that sets Wilford Smith apart - not only from other law firms but from other professional service providers too.

Wilford Smith Solicitors was incorporated in 2017 (as WS Strategic Ltd) but its history goes back much further than that. Established in 1981 by Stephen Smith MBE, Wilford Smith provides quality legal services for both private and commercial clients. Having now expanded into new offices in Sheffield, Its solicitors routinely provide advice on complex legal matters in a range of legal practice areas and it has a richly deserved reputation for independence hard work and results. You can find and connect with Wilford Smith's lawyers on their social media channels here too:-





  • Friday, 12 July 2019