An interview with Joanne Meah - Senior Practice Manager

We talked to some of our Practice Management team and asked them to explain their approach to client relationships and adding value.

  • Date: 02 Jun, 2015
  • In: Articles

It’s easy for a set of chambers to talk about adding value and providing excellent client service but here at Tanfield Chambers it’s a cornerstone of all that we do.  We talked to some of our Practice Management team and asked them to explain their approach.

Joanne Meah – Senior Practice Manager - is part of the senior practice management team with particular responsibility for chambers’ Landlord & Tenant practice.

Joanne, what does ‘added value’ mean to you?

Added value means thinking about the service level we provide so that we’re always working to do things better.  Whether that is the efficiency or flexibility of the clerks or the way the barrister deals with a matter.

What things do clients say mean the most to them in terms of the service we provide?

The thing we hear again and again is that people like working with us and find us approachable.  It’s important that clients feel we’re there to help with anything that comes up, along the way.  We work hard to be friendly and approachable when receiving and dealing with instructions, as well as taking time to understand the level of the claim and needs of the client when quoting fees.  Most of all it’s important that we really know the barristers and their work, so the right people for the particular job is always recommended.

What sets Tanfield Chambers out from other sets in terms of client service?

I think the amount of time we put in to making sure we know our clients well and building strong relationships.  It’s important to us that clients feel we’re a part of their team, rather than just service providers.  That’s added value.

How do we demonstrate added value to our clients?

I think it is demonstrated in a subtle way, unique to every client.  Each case requires a different approach.  However, the key to this is communication.  Our job is to make everyone’s lives easier - ensuring that information moves between solicitors, clerks and barristers seamlessly.  This doesn’t just mean information regarding the matter in hand but also what we, as clerks, know about a particular solicitor - the type of work they cover, what type of cases they will send through, the strength of their relationship with chambers and specific barristers – as well as making sure the barrister understands what is required of them and when it needs to be delivered.  It is essential to meet client deadlines!  It’s non-negotiable in my book!

What’s the nicest thing a client has said to you about the value we’ve added?

It is always nice to be thanked and when solicitors do thank me for my efforts it makes me want to work even harder to do a great job.

In particular it’s nice when clients show their appreciation more formally and I am pleased to have had quotes in the legal directories.

"Jo Meah and Kevin Moore who are both excellent and can consistently make time to ensure work is directed to the right person" Chambers UK 2014

What are the biggest challenges you face in doing an excellent job?

The Bar is extremely competitive at the moment and this is intensified by the economy.  It means we need to find new ways to add extra value so that clients feel inclined to choose us over other experts in the sector.  A barrister can be the best in the world but without an effective clerking support function and high service level across the board clients won’t come back.

The best way we can differentiate is in providing an approachable, friendly, efficient service in a universal way, throughout the set.