What They didn’t teach you at the Law School
Law School prepares you to think, write and research like a lawyer, but once you’re at the door of a law firm or a courtroom, there’s a whole new set of skills you need. The present series of articles aims to enrich a new lawyer with all these skills in order for him/her to excel.
Getting new clients is tough. But once you have clients, how you treat them becomes a defining part of your reputation, because your current clients could become some of your biggest brand ambassadors.
Here are some tips to make sure you always keep your clients happy:
It’s very important that you carefully review your communication habits and always keep thinking of ways in which you can improve communication with your clients.
Always remember that your preferred method of communication might not work for every client so you must take the time to tailor-make your communication according to your client’s preferences. For example, there could be one client for whom communicating weekly is fine while there could be another who wants it on a daily basis. Then there could be some clients who like to communicate by phone, but some others for whom in-person meeting is essential for their satisfaction. Be sure that you embrace your client’s communication preferences so that you have a better relationship with them.
When a client reaches out, always follow up as soon as you get the message. If you are really too busy to take a call from a client, you should let them know that personally and also tell them that you will return their call at the earliest convenience.
Updating your clients on their case, even if there is nothing important to report, will make them feel valued. Consistent communication keeps your clients happy because they feel re-assured and they know they can rely on you to keep them informed.
Many legal matters are difficult to go through, so having empathy for your clients’ struggles goes a long way. Sometimes just saying something as simple as, “I’m so sorry that you have to go through this” or “I’m here to talk you through this if you’d like” is all it takes.
Handle money matters appropriately
Costs and billing issues are some of the most sensitive topics when it comes to legal matters. So, once the client has agreed to the fees, remember to update them on costs that arise throughout their case.
Own your mistakes
The best way to handle mistakes with a client is to simply admit it and apologize. Never underestimate your client’s capacity for being understanding. They do not expect you to be perfect.
Clients want to know that you care more about your relationship with them than your own pride. Owning a mistake demonstrates humility, while denying a mistake is often a sign of arrogance. And no one wants to work with someone so arrogant as to admit when they are wrong.
Client appreciation is critical for keeping clients happy. It also creates loyalty.
Show your clients you care and be sincere. You can do this by: Remembering their name; Recalling the personal details they have shared with you; Letting them vent about their case; Keeping your promises to them; and so on.
Also, never forget to acknowledge when a client has given you a referral. Even if the referral doesn’t work out, you should thank your client for thinking of you.
You should never fall into the trap of thinking that you need to represent every person that comes to you; rather you should keep your firm’s reputation in mind. If a client doesn’t seem like a good fit for your practice, you should simply decline.
The practice of law involves a great deal of speaking, giving advice, and voicing your opinion. But sometimes, all a client wants is to vent to someone, and that someone is you. So, if you give your clients a chance to fully express themselves, your clients will get the reassurance that you really do care about them; they will feel more valued.
Let clients make their own decisions
You need to understand that your job is to provide your clients with all the necessary information to make intelligent and informed decisions; but you are just their lawyer and advisor, not their parent. So when your client chooses to go in a different direction despite your advice, respect their decision. As long as you did your duty and advised them of all the possible pros and cons of the various courses of direction, you are no longer responsible for any consequences of their bad decisions.
It’s always a good idea to stay connected with your current/past clients; create an email/WhatsApp group where you can send them some legal updates every now and then. The idea is to make them feel valued and since they’ll be in constant touch with you, there’s a probability that they will refer you to their friends and relatives, whenever need be.
Your clients are an extension of your brand. Treat them as such, and you will excel in building a successful law practice with a positive reputation and a reliable referral network.