The #1 complaint clients make to bar associations is about their attorney’s failure to communicate. Communication is fundamental to building a strong, lasting relationship with clients. You must stay on top of your email and phone messages.
If you spend a lot of time in court, then you need to (1) better set and manage client expectations as to when they can expect a response to their email or phone call, or (2) assign someone on your staff who is trustworthy and reliable to return those calls for you and set up an appointment to speak with you when you are available. Be sure you have a staffer scouring your email for client requests that can be handled without your intervention, like inquiring about when their court date is or how to dress for an upcoming appearance or to remind them of the address for their deposition.
Beyond the everyday communication, there are three other areas most lawyers can work on to improve their client communication:
Keep clients informed about the progress of their cases.
I strongly recommend you have someone (not an attorney) call and email every single client to update them on their case every month – even if there is no update, We are still waiting to hear back from the insurance company. We are still waiting on the judge to issue a ruling on our motion. We haven’t heard back yet from opposing counsel and we are emailing them every week asking for a response. In most cases, there can be weeks or even months that go by with no movement. During this time, clients can think you have forgotten about them.
To retain client loyalty and satisfaction, you need to gently remind them that you are still “on the case” and haven’t forgotten about them. This person can be your legal assistant or even a paralegal, but we don’t recommend it be you or an associate unless absolutely necessary.
Proactively educate clients on events or changes in the law that could affect them.
Sending out regular client communiqués or newsletters is a very cost-effective way to educate former clients and referral partners of changes in the law that could affect them or simply remind them of their legal rights and responsibilities.
Inform them of other ways you can help them and other areas of practice in your law firm. It’s your responsibility to educate and inform clients of other ways you can add value. If there are other services you provide that they could benefit from but are not currently using, let them know what benefits they could get from using those other services. In addition to telling them over lunch and sending out monthly newsletters, you can also hold seminars or webinars on relevant topics of interest. Find every opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and your usefulness.
Remind your clients regularly of the results they are getting from working with you.
Clients are likely as busy as you are and your great work is not always on their radar. Law can be a thankless profession. Far too often clients expect you to move heaven and earth and never even offer a simple thank you in return. If you’re getting good results for your clients, remind them on a regular basis. Don’t wait until the end of the case and the final bill. Casually mention it along the way. As Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”