4 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – MARCH 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS ANNIE TSOI, partner, Deacons In today’s competitive legal landscape, cultivating strong relationships with clients is crucial for sustaining long-term success and growth. Clients expect smooth working relationships with lawyers at all levels. To achieve this, we are very aware of the importance of developing and honing our junior lawyers’ client-facing abilities. At Deacons, we have a comprehensive and structured training program under Deacons Academy, which aims to provide our lawyers with practical skills training. Taking a modular approach, Deacons Academy offers different levels of training to build confidence and develop skills across five main pillars of attributes, namely People Engagement, Business Development, Commercial Acumen, Personal Qualities and Risk Management. These programs comprise workshops, seminars, and interactive sessions that focus on communication, negotiation, relationship building, and client service. We also have a special program for our trainee solicitors who may, quite understandably, find it culturally challenging moving from college to work. For trainees and junior lawyers, we focus more on developing effective communication skills; both internally and externally. One of the most popular training sessions is networking skills in a cocktail reception setting. We all recognise that walking into a room where there is a sea of new faces can be very intimidating. In the classroom session, we offer ways to start or join a conversation and politely leave one. This is followed by a real cocktail reception where participants are encouraged to invite one of their friends or contacts to attend so that they can practice what they have learnt in the classroom in a relatively safe and comfortable environment. Another popular session is on personal branding, focusing on making a good first impression. In this session, participants learn how to apply their knowledge of appropriate appearance and grooming, posture, body language and attitude in creating impactful first impressions in professional settings. Other sessions, such as impactful advising skills, managing emotions, and effective influencing, were also very well received. Providing exposure and opportunities for junior lawyers to engage directly with clients is crucial for their professional development. Encouraging and empowering junior lawyers to attend client meetings, participate in negotiations, and handle client communications under appropriate levels of supervision can help them gain practical experience and build rapport with clients. These hands-on approaches allow junior lawyers to learn by doing and gradually build their client-facing capabilities. Finally, fostering a culture of timely feedback and continuous improvement is essential in helping junior lawyers refine their client-facing skills. We have regular feedback mechanisms, such as performance reviews, to gauge progress and identify areas for improvement. Constructive feedback and guidance from supervisors and clients enable junior lawyers to learn from and reflect on their experiences and enhance their client relationship capabilities. ANDREW KOON, co-chair of NextGen Hong Kong Chapter, Mayer Brown The younger generation of lawyers is more techsavvy and comfortable with the use of technology in the workplace, including but not limited to the use of software to participate in virtual meetings and to communicate with others using applications on mobile devices. The use of such technology has brought immense convenience to lawyers in the workplace, but it has also brought certain shortcomings, such as reduced opportunities to develop professional networking skills. FORUM SOCIALLY SKILLED Owing to the pandemic and today’s unprecedented connectedness, young workers are undergoing a home-working revolution that is reshaping workplace dynamics. However, it’s also feared that these younger lawyers might fall short in acquiring the social skills essential in cultivating client relationships. Law firm talent leaders share how to nurture a new generation of technically and socially capable lawyers in the age of digitalisation. WHAT MEASURES HAS YOUR FIRM BEEN TAKING TO DEVELOP JUNIOR LAWYERS’ CLIENT-FACING SKILLS BESIDES TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE? ANNIE TSOI ANDREW KOON STEFANIE YUEN THIO