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Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 technology  research  practice

A Practice Tip

  • Practice

If they don’t already have one, most people report that they turn first to recommendations from friends and relatives when seeking a lawyer. So it makes sense that you’d like to keep your existing clients very happy so that they’ll recommend you to other people. But how do you go about it?

As we become more and more familiar with the areas of the law in which we concentrate, we sometimes tend to forget that a divorce, personal injury case, tax matter or bankruptcy may be completely uncharted, and usually very scary, territory for our client. So, at the beginning of every new case, give your client a roadmap. Doing so adds value by providing something tangible in exchange for a retainer or other advance payment, and it can really help your client to feel that he or she has chosen the right lawyer.

All you have to do is develop a written chronology or frequently asked questions sheet for each particular type of matter that you handle, to guide your clients through the process (for example, the authors recall seeing one done by doctors for their newly pregnant clients entitled: “What to Expect when You are Expecting“).

Once you have your roadmap together, slap some firm branding and graphics on it, along with your name and contact information so that the client holds on to it. It can become a marketing tool, too, should the client show it to someone else. Consider posting it to your website so clients can see how you treat new clients.

Not only will this help you create a sense of security for the client since he or she now knows what to expect and what is involved with the matter, how long handling the matter might take etc, but it can also help prevent unnecessary phone calls that waste your time and your client’s money.

The same is true of mapping out what the client can expect in dealing with you. If you incorporate this type of information into your fee agreement, you will provide tangible value at the first meeting while starting to also shape client expectations about the procedures your office uses to facilitate lawyer-client communications and handle emergencies, and what you expect in terms of billing and payment.

Typically none of us like surprises, particularly if they are not pleasant. Having a good roadmap helps everyone know what lies ahead.

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