How to Win Clients and Influence People, Lessons for Lawyers from Dale Carnegie
Reflecting on my career in the legal profession, I’ve often observed that clients seek out lawyers during some of the most challenging and vulnerable moments of their lives.

Reflecting on my career in the legal profession, I’ve often observed that clients seek out lawyers during some of the most challenging and vulnerable moments of their lives. Whether they’re facing litigation, navigating complex transactions, or resolving personal disputes, clients depend on their lawyers not just for legal expertise, but also for support and guidance. These dynamic underscores the importance of developing strong interpersonal skills, much like those championed by Dale Carnegie in his seminal work, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. At Coaching Advocates, we believe that lawyers who master these soft skills can profoundly enhance their client relationships, leaving clients better off after every engagement. This then may lead to better referral rate from existing clients and greater retention. Taking the learnings from Dale Carnegie and applying these to the legal profession we recommend that our colleagues in the legal profession consider the following.

Building Genuine Connections

One of Carnegie’s fundamental principles is to “become genuinely interested in other people.” In the context of legal practice, this means moving beyond transactional interactions to build meaningful connections with clients. Lawyers can apply this by:

  • Active Listening
    Truly hearing and understanding clients’ concerns and objectives rather than merely waiting for their turn to speak. This fosters trust and demonstrates empathy. A study in the
    Harvard Business Review highlights that empathy and social skills are critical in building client trust and loyalty, essential components of successful legal practice .
  • Personal Touch
    Remembering details about clients’ lives and interests. This could be as simple as recalling a client’s child’s name or their favourite hobby or sporting team, making clients feel valued as individuals, not just a client file.

Showing Appreciation

Carnegie famously advised, “Give honest and sincere appreciation.” In legal practice, expressing genuine gratitude can have a significant impact. Lawyers may consider:

  • Acknowledge Efforts
    Recognize clients for their cooperation, timely communication, and trust. A simple thank-you note, or a verbal acknowledgment can go a long way.
  • Celebrate Milestones
    Celebrate small victories and milestones with clients, reinforcing a positive and collaborative relationship. Research shows that appreciation in professional relationships can lead to higher client satisfaction and retention.

Understanding and Addressing Client Needs

Another key Carnegie principle is to “try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” Lawyers must strive to understand their clients’ perspectives and tailor their approach accordingly. This can be achieved by:

  • Empathetic Communication
    Clearly communicating legal strategies and implications in a way that resonates with clients’ emotional and practical needs.
  • Proactive Solutions
    Anticipating potential concerns and addressing them before they become issues, demonstrating foresight and care for clients’ well-being. Research in client-centered lawyering highlights that understanding clients’ personal and emotional contexts can significantly improve case outcomes and client satisfaction .

Encouraging Client Involvement

Carnegie suggested that people are more committed to a solution when they have a role in shaping it. Lawyers can foster this by.

  • Inclusive Decision-Making
    Involving clients in strategy discussions and decisions, ensuring they feel heard and respected.
  • Educational Empowerment
    Providing clients with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their cases, empowering them to take an active role. A study published in the Journal of Legal Education emphasizes that client engagement in legal processes leads to more effective and satisfying attorney-client relationships .

By integrating Dale Carnegie’s timeless principles into their practice, lawyers can enhance their interpersonal skills, leading to more fulfilling and effective client relationships. At Coaching Advocates, we support legal professionals in developing these essential soft skills, ensuring that every client leaves better off after engaging with their Lawyer. In a profession where clients often come at their most vulnerable, mastering the art of winning clients and influencing people can set exceptional lawyers apart.


  • Harvard Business Review. (2017). The neuroscience of trust. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from
  • Swickert, R. (2021). The role of gratitude and mindfulness in creating a happier and more productive workplace. In J. Marques (Ed.), The Routledge companion to happiness at work (pp. 123–130). Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Journal of Legal Education. (2018). Client engagement in legal practice. Journal of Legal Education. Retrieved from
  • Giddings, J., & Weinberg, J. (2020). Experiential legal education. Modernising Legal Education, 38-56.