The longer you practice, the easier it is to forget that clients are generally in crisis when they come to see you. Although their problems may not seem insurmountable to the experienced lawyer, the client may still feel completely out of control.
Don’t allow yourself to become so interested in the legal problem, fascinating through it may be, that you forget about the person. Start immediately to build a relationship of trust, which will keep bringing the client back each time a new problem arises.
Determine the client’s expectations, not just about the outcome of the case but also about the nature of the relationship they expect to have with you during the representation. Take the time to explain each step of the legal process in which they are involved, not just because it’s your ethical obligation to do so, but because it is the best way to provide reassurance to the client and illustrate your desire to build a long, productive working relationship. As the case progresses, take the opportunity to look for information about common interests you share with the client which can help you to maintain the relationship after this case is over.
One of the best ways to maintain a relationship with clients once the initial matter is over is to contact them regularly with information that will be of interest to them along with subtle guidance that lets them know that – whatever their next problem – you should be their first phone call. There are many websites, such as Streamsend.com, or ConstantContact.com which will allow you to send out group emails without being classified as spam and then stopped by everyone’s spam filter. Check them out and get in the habit of adding clients to your mailing list when their files are closed, if not sooner.
This tip comes from Shawn Holahan, Professional Services Counsel for the Louisiana State Bar Association‘s Law Office Management Assistance Program, and is the last tip from the Taste of ABA TECHSHOW 2011 dinner that we hosted in April of this year. Thanks, again, to all those who attended and provided a tip!