It is astonishing that despite all the efforts of the marketing and business develop teams employed by the best law firms in the country, the client experience still appears firmly rooted in the 19th century.
Who knew, apart from its clients obviously, that law firms like Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer still addressed its clients in formal communications with 'Dear Sirs", irrespective of whether it was writing to a man, woman or child.
It is as if fax machines, email, the internet, social media, clever thought leadership, and their carefully crafted brand stands for nothing.
And it is not just the larger legal businesses. A small regional firm I know greets its new clients with an engagement letter that explains how to complain. Not how delighted and excited they are to be working with a new client, but how to complain. The bar has truly been set high!
I have worked with legal businesses for over 20 years helping them with their internal and external communications. There are times when you think progress is being made. And then there are times when you realise that the surface has but been scratched.
It has taken more than two centuries but one of Britain’s top legal firms has finally decided that “Dear Sirs” has had its day. Freshfields has become the first of the country’s big legal practices to announce that it will now commence letters with an acknowledgement that not everybody is male. In future, the firm announced yesterday, it would address all communications to “Dear Sir or Madam”. In the US, all correspondence both internally and to clients will start with “Dear Ladies and Gentlemen”.