When going gets tough, lawyers cosy up to clients

LAWYERS have been told that they must make their clients feel "loved" to win business during the economic crisis.

Magnus Swanson, chief executive of Maclay, Murray & Spens, one of Scotland's "big three" law firms, said caring for clients was the key to the future.

Asked what would set apart firms who were successful in a tough market, Mr Swanson said: "I think the key thing for us is to focus on the clients and to make them feel loved and looked after."

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He was supported by Bill Drummond, managing partner of Brodies, who said having "lots of happy clients, delighted with what we do for them" was his firm's aim in 2011.

He added: "All we can aim for is really delighted clients who come back to use us again - it's the number one objective."

Patrick Andrews, chief executive of Shepherd & Wedderburn, said legal firms had to go where the client wanted. "(It's about] putting client needs first in a globalised market," he said. "If that means being in London, we will be there."

However, one senior lawyer said it was all very well "loving" clients in the tough times - but that the big firms had been guilty of complacency in previous years.

"No-one would argue that client relations are important," he said. "But no-one was really talking in terms of loving all these delighted clients a few years ago when the work was just flooding through the door.

"There has undoubtedly been some complacency in certain firms that the work will keep on coming - but we are in a totally different legal landscape now."