This year’s Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer survey surfaced a fascinating insight—there is a significant gap between corporate legal departments’ expectations and law firms’ ability to deliver on them. This was evidenced across numerous parameters, but the most jarring one was probably that only 26% of in-house counsel reported that they were “very satisfied” with their current firms.

So where is this gap coming from? According to Nir Golan, former General Counsel and Head of Legal Ops at Attenti Global, outside counsel often don’t ask enough questions and truly listen to the answers. In a recent podcast episode of The Law Firms of the Future, Nir remarked that many law firms, in his experience, simply don’t ask their clients enough questions, focusing on providing legal advice at the expense of solving their real business challenges. To him, curiosity and empathy are two of the most important skills that today’s lawyers need in order to succeed in this evolving landscape—and the Wolters Kluwer results seem to corroborate this.

Some tips to improve your listening skills:

  1. Learn from the people around you. Many law firms have teams of businesspeople with a great deal of expertise in what they do. Try to build relationships with individuals across departments who can provide insight on topics like business development, technology, and pricing.
  2. Take the time to understand your clients’ businesses. As Colin Levy, former GC of, advised in a recent episode of The Law Firms of the Future, try to speak with employees across different departments when possible to get a better understanding of how the company runs.
  3. If you’re not already tech-savvy, start learning about technology. While the jury is still out on whether lawyers should learn how to code, what is clear is that lawyers need to be aware of the technology solutions out there that can help them do their jobs more effectively—like ZERØ, which passively captures the time you spend interacting with email on iPhones and iPads and files emails into your document management system.