How To Represent Your Firm's Clients Well

  • Photo by Taylor Grote

Great lawyers represent their clients well. They focus on their client’s needs, manage their clients’ expectations, communicate and provide creative solutions for their clients’ legal problems. As a result, their clients feel understood. They believe that their lawyer is committed to giving them sounds advice and helping them achieve their goals.

You too can represent your clients well. Here are a few helpful guidelines to help you do it.

 

1 | Focus on the client. 

A client experiences a legal matter in the context of the client’s personal or business objectives, goals and values.  To represent a client well it is essential to understand how the legal matter is affecting the client and what the client wants to achieve.  With that understanding, you will be able to give advice that serves the client’s best interests. 

 

2 | Be creative. 

Look for a creative solution that is designed to achieve the particular client’s goals. 

For example, a client involved in a commercial dispute may want to address the issues that gave rise to the dispute in a way that preserves their business relationship with the other party.  In that situation, arranging for a mediation of the dispute before a lawsuit is filed may be an approach that serves the best interests of the client.   

Remember that each client is unique.  Even though two clients may face a similar legal problem, a solution that worked well for one may not be the best solution for the other. 

 

3 | Manage client expectations. 

Clients want to have a realistic idea of what to expect as their legal matter proceeds and how long the process is likely to take. 

Avoid creating or reinforcing unrealistic expectations about the outcome of your client’s case.  Communicate risks and uncertainty in a balanced way that shows you have confidence in the course of action you propose.  Have a clear understanding with your client about turnaround time and your availability after hours and while on vacation.

 

4 | Explain Fees.  

Make sure the client understands how legal fees will be calculated and what additional costs the client will be expected to pay.  Clients appreciate having at least a rough idea about how much their legal matter is likely to cost.  Make sure your fee agreement is confirmed in writing.

 

5 | Stay In Touch. 

Understand and meet the client’s expectations about the frequency, nature and timing of communications.  Give as much advance notice as possible about meetings, hearings or other proceedings the client may want or need to attend.  Clients like to be kept informed.  They hate surprises. 

 

Related articles:

Building Trust In Professional Relationships

Dealing with a Client’s Feelings and Emotions

3 Keys to Effective Advocacy

 


John Allison is a professional career coach backed by years of experience as a successful lawyer. He is the founder of The Coach for Lawyers and author of The Art of Practicing Law: A Practical Guide for Lawyers.