What’s in your Client’s Bill of Rights?
Do you even have one?
If not, you might want to consider drafting such a document. A Client’s Bill of Rights could mean soaring profits, satisfying cases and a sharper focus of what your practice is all about.
The N.C. Utilities Commission thinks it’s a good idea. Recently I changed power companies when I moved my residence. In the mail one morning came a nice little pamphlet titled “Bill of Rights: For Residential Customers of Electric Companies.”
Imagine my surprise. When it came to electrical matters I never knew I had any rights.
The Utilities Commission document was four pages printed back to front in tiny 7-point type. I confess I didn’t read the whole thing. But I skimmed enough of it to learn that I had the right to name someone else to receive a copy of any cut-off notice (though that individual is “not obligated to pay your bills for you”) and the right (“as a general rule”) not to have my power disconnected after 4:00 PM on Friday.
Both of these nuggets might come in handy sometimes.
Bill of Rights in the Law Office
All of this got me thinking about Bill of Rights in the law office. In recent years, organized bars at the national, state and local levels have pushed for professionalism. Many have enacted “Professionalism Oaths” and “Declarations of Commitment to Clients.”
One version was written by Harvard lawyer John Tooothman, who runs the legal fee management and litigation consulting firm “The Devil’s Advocate.”
His “Client’s Bill of Rights” is described on Amazon as a book that “introduces clients to the unique relationship they have with lawyers.”
1. Clients Are Entitled To Respect
2. Clients Are Entitled To Control
3. Clients Are Entitled To Competence
4. Clients Are Entitled To Attention
5. Clients Are Entitled To Loyalty
6. Clients Are Entitled To The Truth
7. Clients Are Entitled To Efficiency
8. Clients Are Entitled To Budgets
9. Clients Are Entitled To A Fair Written Agreement
10. Clients Are Entitled To Reasonable Bills
It is hard to argue with any of those rights. All are contained in one form or another in the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Why not take a stab at writing your own Client’s Bill of Rights? Tailor it to your practice. When you’ve finished, print out a copy and post it on the wall in your waiting room. Just don’t use 7-point type.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He likes to watch phonograph records go round and round. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.
- The Devils’ Advocate http://www.devilsadvocate.com/bios.html
- Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Clients-Rights-Civilians-Lawyers-ebook/dp/B004RJ7Y3G