A lawyer walks in a bar…
There’s a joke in there somewhere. In fact, you’ve probably heard your fair share of this particular brand of joke.
It’s safe to say that lawyers get a bad rap. People forget that you’re human too. But with each new client, you have the chance to set the record straight (and set yourself apart from the competition). The best way to do this is by connecting with your clients and showing your human side.
If you’re a lawyer who is interested in connecting with your client, we have some up-to-date lawyer tips of 2019—just for you.
Lawyer Tips for Connecting with Your Clients
There’s a fine line when it comes to lawyer and client relationships. You’re expected to help your clients with their legal issues and maintain their trust. But that doesn’t make you their friend.
After all, you’re working for them. But that doesn’t mean that your business relationship has to be a rigid one.
Especially if you are a solo attorney, you need to develop and maintain a good reputation to get client referrals. Your work as a lawyer is not just case studies and legal theories, it’s also customer service.
How you treat your clients will ultimately determine your success as a lawyer. Here are the top five lawyer tips for connecting with your clients and paving the way for future success:
1. Pick and Choose Your Clients
Maybe you’ve decided to strike out on your own, or maybe your firm is observing a slow season. That doesn’t mean you should take just any case that comes your way. It’s important to pick and choose your clients wisely.
Part of connecting with your clients is knowing how to spot the red flags. You don’t want to waste your time on a high maintenance client that will suck up your resources and take time away from your other clients.
Each of your clients deserves their fair share of your attention and efforts. A difficult client can get in the way of your other cases, which will only hurt your business relationships and efficiency.
2. Set Reasonable Expectations
You’re a lawyer, not a get out of jail free card, and you absolutely need to make that clear to your clients. Managing your clients’ expectations is one of the most important parts of your job.
Maybe you have a new client seeking council for DWI probation for example, but it’s unlikely that they will get said probation. Don’t make promises based on gray areas—be straight forward with what you can and cannot do for them.
Communicating any limitations to your representation up front ensures that your client will move forward with realistic expectations.
3. Maintain Communication
Maintaining communication goes hand in hand with setting reasonable expectations with your clients. It’s important to determine the frequency in which your client expects communication as well.
Figure out your own schedule of communication (i.e., daily, weekly, etc.) and learn how they would prefer to be contacted. Develop a time frame that works for both of you and stick with it. Even if there aren’t any new installments in their case, keeping them updated will keep them content.
You want your client to feel like they’re a priority, and so your follow-up is just as important as setting a schedule of communication. If they try to contact you while you’re unavailable, don’t leave them hanging. Return their messages as soon as possible.
Consistent communication is key.
4. Take Care of Money Matters First
Some of the most sensitive topics in legal matters are costs and billing issues. If your client is hit with a bill rendering services or fees that they were unaware of, it’ll be bad for your reputation. It could also cause an unnecessary headache if you end up having to take them to small claims court because they refuse to pay extra legal fees.
Your best bet is being upfront with what your costs are to avoid any confusion. Your client should be fully aware of what he or she is getting into financially. This includes the fact that other fees may arise throughout their case. Make sure that your client agrees to the financial terms up front!
It will also help you have a competent billing system in place. This will keep your invoicing clear and concise.
5. Show Your Client That You Care
Seeking attorney help can be intimidating for most people, which is why connecting with your client is essential. If you are indifferent towards your clients, then you risk losing them to a competitor.
Here are a few attorney tips to show your clients that you care:
- Remember their name. It’s that simple because they are human beings—not just invoice numbers.
- Take an interest in their personal details. No, you don’t have to show up to their daughter’s dance recital or give them relationship advice. However, it doesn’t hurt to get to know them a little bit and ask how their kids are (by name, of course).
- Let them talk it out. You’re not their therapist, but you’re the only person they can legally talk to about their case. If they need to vent about it, let them. Being a good listener is half the battle in any relationship.
- Acknowledge any and all client referrals. If your clients are sending business your way, take the time to thank them. A simple handwritten thank you note, or even a phone call can go a long way.
Additionally, your actions after the case are over are equally important as during. Make an effort to follow up with your clients, whether it be a phone call or e-mail asking how they are and thanking them once more for choosing you as their legal counsel.
Lawyers Are Human Beings Too
We tend to view lawyers as the worst kind of public servants, especially when we don’t get what we want.
We often compare them to blood-sucking vampires in comedy routines because we forget that they are human beings with a job to do.
But, if you follow these lawyer tips, then your clients will see you as human too. (Then you know that they’re not talking about you when they tell their next lawyer joke!)