If You Want Happy Clients, Don't Confuse Them
As a lawyer, it is your job to help clients navigate the confusing, and unforgiving, legal system. We lawyers can often forget that we provide a service, rather than a product, to our clients. If clients don't understand, or even know, what you're doing for them, then they are less likely to be pleased with what you are doing.
Typically, while clients appreciate and value good results, one of the most important aspects of pleasing (and keeping) clients is clear, simple communication. Given that the attorney's role is to provide legal services, keeping clients informed and clear about their options goes hand in hand with providing good, client-oriented services. It isn't always easy to remember that our jobs require serving our clients: not just doing what we think is best for them, but rather presenting the client with their options and asking how the client would like to proceed.
Keep It Simple Solicitor
We've all heard the idiom "K.I.S.S.- Keep it simple, stupid" more times than we would like. However, when it comes to a lawyer's client communications, it is so true that you should probably get it tattooed to the inside of your eyelids (or maybe just remember it). Even if your client is another lawyer, don't assume they understand the complex legal jargon, especially if they practice in an unrelated field, or have never seen the inside of courtroom.
When explaining to clients their various options and the attendant risks of each, rather than using legalese, do your best to explain everything in plain English, or just classic, plain language. Even sophisticated patent clients often don't understand legal language, and that can end up wreaking havoc on your reputation.
Clearly Communicate Your Lack of Communication
If you are not one of the great communicators of our time, you might want to communicate that fact to your clients. Part of maintaining clear communication with your clients is setting expectations and boundaries for your communications.
Also, even if you dislike fielding questions from clients, you should still invite clients to ask questions; but perhaps try to limit how the questions get asked (such as requesting all questions be sent via email, before being answered in writing or by phone).
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- Small Firm Lawyer Reality Check: Is There Really a Key to Success? (FindLaw's Strategist)
- 5 Tips for Improving Client Communications (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Five Lessons for New Attorneys from Lou Reed (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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