Suggested Best Practices
The ethical rules address the importance of good client communications. Good client relations also are an excellent deterrent to all malpractice suits and a great way to increase repeat business and referrals. The following are some client relations tips:
- Remind your staff that having a good relationship with the client is the best preventative measure that can be taken against malpractice, and that they are critical to this relationship. Encourage your staff to treat clients as though they were guests in their own homes, including greeting every guest, and offering a smile and a cup of coffee. Also remind staff to answer phone calls quickly and professionally.
- When meeting with a client, ask your staff to hold your calls, and then give your full attention to that client. Challenge yourself to do as much listening in the meeting as you do talking. Ask your client if they have any questions and make them feel like they are your only client (no checking your watch or your smart phone).
- Turn on the out-of-office feature on your e-mail if you plan to be out for even just half a day. Ensure that the auto reply has adequate instructions for how your client may reach someone who can help them while you are away.
- Whenever something significant happens affecting a client’s matter, send a status report and follow up to confirm the report was received and understood. Afterwards, inquire whether any other legal matters have developed that you could assist in.
- Develop a list of firm contacts to give to new clients. Include any firm employee that they will need to know and how to reach them. When you provide them the list, also ask them how they prefer that you contact them.
- Surprise your staff with gift cards or a catered lunch when you see them go above and beyond for a client or if they consistently assist you with providing great client relations.
- When a matter has ended, send a thank you note to your client, in addition to the disengagement letter, to let them know how much you appreciated their business. Include a few business cards in the envelope to allow them to easily recommend you to their family, friends and colleagues.
- Don’t make your client have to refer to a legal dictionary to navigate your correspondence. Use plain language and short sentences to make every communication as clear as possible.
- Survey your clients to see how they feel about your firm. Ask them to identify ways that you could improve. Use the information from the survey to better understand your clients’ needs.
- Inform current and former clients of new laws or cases that could affect them or their businesses, even if a new development is not relevant to matters currently being handled. You can add a personal note to the letter explaining the law’s specific impact on clients who will be more directly affected.
- Learn to really listen — As said by Phillip Stanhope, the Earl of Chesterfield: "Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request." It is a tremendous gift to be listened to and with the fast-paced world we live in, things like texting, e-mails, social media and cell phones prevent listening. Communication is often fast but rarely very satisfying. When meeting with clients, clear your calendar, ignore your phone and really listen.
- Put yourself in your clients shoes and try to understand their broader goals. Keep those goals in mind as you represent them and strive to serve those needs.
Risk Management Best Practices Database Legal Statement
Information provided by Attorney Protective is not intended as legal advice. This publication provides best practices for use in connection with general circumstances, and ordinarily does not address specific situations. These best practices are not intended to meet or establish the standard of care, and sometimes recommend practices that exceed the standard of care. Specific situations should be discussed with legal counsel licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction. By publishing practice and risk prevention tips, Attorney Protective neither implies nor provides any guarantee that claims can be prevented by use of the suggested practices. Though the contents of Attorney Protective's Best Practice Database have been carefully researched, Attorney Protective makes no warranty as to the accuracy, applicability or timeliness of the content. Anyone wishing to reproduce any part of the Attorney Protective Best Practices Database content must request permission from Attorney Protective by calling 877-728-8776 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally the rules cited in the contents of this database may have since changed. You should check the laws and model rules in your state for specific information on the topics addressed here.