Published in The Brief of The Times< Many lawyers lack awareness of basic human psychology. It is a failing that causes problems with getting work, keeping clients happy and rubbing along with colleagues. The Solicitors Regulation Authority needs to take this on board in its radical reform package being proposed for training lawyers of the future. Professionals use high-level expertise to provide an expert service directly to consumers. Lawyers help businesses and individuals to deal with the most critical issues facing them. Solicitors should be taught how to interact well with different people in a variety of situations. I routinely see solicitors facing employment and partnership stresses caused by three main problems. The first is the inability to generate sufficient work. Too often the task of generating chargeable work is left to a few partners in a law firm who seem to have developed an intuitive ability to attract instructions. The second problem is the inability to retain clients. Often not knowing how to keep clients happy – whether demonstrated by difficulties in collecting fees or criticism of failing to adhere to acceptable standards of service – is caused by solicitors' failing to see issues from a client's point of view. Solicitors tend to be reluctant to reassure clients that ultimately the decisions are for clients to take: clients need to control the process, to have the right to choose the direction of travel and whether to accelerate the pace of the work or to put on the brakes. The third concern is interacting and working well with partners and colleagues. Knowing what makes colleagues tick, catering to their individual needs and aspirations, makes for a happy and efficient office, successful and fulfilled partners and staff – and a stable workforce. A mandatory training module in basic psychology would equip lawyers with the skills to recognise and address these issues. And even some long-established lawyers, as well as those who have just qualified, could benefit from education in this area. An understanding of human psychology and recognition of the importance of leadership skills are often factors in making some lawyers more successful than others, and could even result in the legal profession as a whole being more highly regarded. The proposed solicitors' qualification examination from the SRA offers an ideal opportunity. Much comment has focused on the form that the training would take but not much thought has been given to changing the content. It seems to have been assumed that the objective of the qualification process would largely remain knowledge of black letter law: the subject areas remain practically the same as those studied on the current legal practice course. But ideally the reforms should take account of the skills needed to practise successfully as a modern solicitor. Incorporating compulsory basic training in human psychology would be a useful first step. Ronnie Fox is the founder of Fox, a City of London law firm specialising in employment, partnership and discrimination law

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