In the midst of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to build strong, enduring relationships with your clients.
It’s the backbone of your practice. Satisfied clients refer friends and colleagues. They also return for repeat business because they trust the lawyer to handle it properly. An attorney’s success is dependent upon such clients.
Dissatisfied clients file complaints with the State Bar. They bring malpractice claims.
Developing procedures for creating satisfied clients and avoiding clients who will never be satisfied are crucial for a successful law firm. Learning to recognize danger signs and fostering habits that make clients more satisfied can help reduce the problems that result in grievances and malpractice claims.
For these and other reasons, the Lawyers Mutual Practice Guide: Attorney-Client Relationships is a valuable – and Free – resource. The Guide is a blueprint for managing relationships with existing clients and attracting new ones. It’s also a risk management tool for dealing with difficult clients.
Read or download Lawyers Mutual Practice Guide: Attorney-Client Relationships.
Below are some highlights of the LM Practice Guide.
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Suggested uses for the guide: to instruct attorneys on legal ethics and risk management; to develop client hiring criteria; to help with attorney and staff orientation; to help with attorney training; to use as a topic at a firm meeting or retreat; to use as curriculum for in-house continuing education.
Topics covered in the guide: Initial Contact; First Impressions; The Intake Process; Engagement Letters; Managing Clients; Handling a Difficult Client; The Finish Line; Conclusion; Client Fees and Billing; 14 Timely Tips for Client Relations; 30 Training Topics
Sample forms in the guide: Prospective Client Questionnaire; Office Intake: New Client Form A; Office Intake: New Client Form B; Interview Form - Personal Injury; Interview Form - Domestic Relations; Sample Telephone Policy for Clients; Sample Attorney Covenants; My Declaration of Commitment to Clients; Post-Representation Survey; Client Survey; Letter Notifying Client of Destruction of File
Tips for Client Intake
- Thank clients for coming. Thank them for choosing you and tell them you appreciate their business.
- New client questionnaire. Develop a simple questionnaire that prospective clients can complete while they are waiting to see you.
- Review the questionnaire before the interview. Knowing something about your client before they come into your office will show that you are interested in the representation and give you some familiarity with them.
- Check for conflicts. Enter information about prospective clients into the firm’s database so that conflicts can be avoided.
- Be organized. Have the appropriate forms to gather information so you can conduct the interview seamlessly.
- The best experience includes comfortable surroundings and an interviewer that seems interested in you and what you have to say.
- Establish the client’s motive in pursing legal action and expectations.
- Consider compatibility. Not every client or case that walks into your office is a good match for you or your firm. If your ‘gut reaction’ is to walk away, it is most likely the best decision.
- Send non-engagement letters. A non-engagement letter should be courteous and thank the potential client for visiting your office and acknowledge the reason for not taking the case.
- Retain copies to rebut any potential claim of representation that may arise. Refer to the Lawyers Mutual handout, “Attorney-Client Agreements Toolkit” for sample non-engagement letters.
Disclaimer: The guide offers general information that should benefit most practices. It is not intended as legal advice or opinion, nor does it purport to establish a specific standard of care for your practice. Every law office is different. Your clients’ needs are unique. The guide suggests ways to bring out the best in you, your support staff, and your clients. For more information – or if you have additional questions – please contact Lawyers Mutual’s Client Services Team.
Have you checked out Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services? Founded by Camille Stell, who also serves as president, LMCS is a subsidiary of Lawyers Mutual. Its mission is to help firms build a modern law practice. It does that by offering expert advice and assistance into law firm trends and best practices. Camille and LMCS helps lawyers and firms create strategic plans and succession plans. A popular speaker and writer, Camille loves to guide lawyers through succession planning and into Life after Law. Contact her today.