The legal profession comes with many challenges from investing all your time and energy into delivering justice to your clients to managing the relentless criticism from society on your profession. To help aid in the daily obstacles of your professional life, we’ve assembled a list of tried and true methods to engage with your clients.
Checklist of Essential Questions
The first one-on-one in person (or if still sheltering at home — via video chat) meeting with your prospective client will lay the foundation of your future relationship. This interaction has the capacity to lead to a solid client relationship or for you two to part ways. To help guide you in this meeting create a checklist of essential questions to ensure you always get the information you require from this meeting.
Throughout this interaction be mindful of the type of professional relationship you’d like to create. While your client may not understand the best way forward with their issue or know basic legal jargon or procedures, speaking to them respectfully in laymen terms will go a long way to laying that foundation.
Also, be aware of the type of mindset they may have come into the meeting with. Depending on your practice area, your client may be in one of the most emotional points of their life. Be sensitive to this while remaining professionally distant.
Never Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Probably one of the biggest issues for lawyers is managing client expectations. Some clients come into an initial meeting with completely unrealistic expectations for their legal matter. You must immediately disabuse them of these expectations and paint a much more realistic outcome, so they are prepared for the realities of certain outcomes. While you can’t see the future, your experience with similar cases (personally or through research) will allow you to provide a much more plausible expectation for the outcome.
As one one of the best top lawyers for DUI in Chicago, Steven Goldman, put it, “You have to be able to lay the groundwork for the case in such a way that your clients can see what is coming and are prepared to deal with the situation no matter what.”
Keeping the Doors Open
Everyone knows a closed door in a house or office is sign of disconnect. While your client may not be facing a literal closed office door, many are intimidated and uncertain about reaching out to their lawyer either via phone, an in-person meeting or via email. From the beginning, you must establish an atmosphere or culture that allows your clients to feel comfortable reaching out to you with any questions they may have.
While you may be the most competent lawyer, if your clients don’t feel comfortable working with you; they won’t refer you. People want to work with those they like. That human part of your customer relationships is key to the long-term sustainability of your firm. So create an open-door policy for your firm — give your clients direct access to you (or a point person that will get them what they need). Be up front with them on when they can expect an answer. If you unplug after hours to spend time with family, letting them know ahead of time will ensure they feel “in the know.”
Continually taking small steps to ensure better customer service will be a step in the right direction to ensure the success of your practice.