While getting prospective clients to your door might be the hardest part, establishing and maintaining client relationships can also be a challenge. Yet creating connections with clients that will continue and deepen over the years is just as important.
Legal professionals are responsible for creating and maintaining positive relationships with their clients. The client selected your firm over many others, and by creating lasting relationships, you’re helping to validate that choice.
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Here are a few simple rules to follow for maintaining positive client relationships:
#1 Treat each client as if they are your only client
While everyone knows that no law practice can thrive with only one client (including the clients themselves), they still crave personal attention and one-on-one support. It’s usually part of the paralegal’s job to make clients feel like their case is at the top of the priority list. Not only does this help keep their anxiety at bay, it also enhances the trust they have in their attorney and the law firm as a whole.
#2 Talk about goals
Each client has their own unique goals regarding their case, tying into why they sought legal representation in the first place. So legal professionals need to know exactly what the client expects to accomplish, what outcomes are considered acceptable.
Whether or not a client’s goals are met will likely determine how satisfied the client is with the representation and the outcome of the case. Knowing these goals from the beginning will help the legal team maintain realistic client expectations throughout the process.
#3 Take an interest in a client as a person, not just a case
Meet with them in person, if possible, and get to know them. Ask them a little bit about their background, family, and interests so that you will be able to talk to them about something besides their legal matter. Clients don’t usually want to talk business all the time and will generally appreciate your interest in them as a person.
#4 Be prepared
Heed the motto of the Boy Scouts of America: Be Prepared. You should not only encourage clients to come to meetings prepared, but also provide them with the same consideration. Your preparation builds rapport with the client, helps you make the most of the time you spend with them, and demonstrates that you value their time and take their case very seriously.
#5 Keep in touch
Regular in-person consultations, prompt email responses, and quick follow-up can further personalize the representation. These also allow your firm to get a sense of client satisfaction or frustration, and deal with any negative feelings before they threaten to poison the relationship.
#6 Meet deadlines
Getting work done well and on time is essential in maintaining strong client relationships. Allow extra time and if you are able to complete a task early, your clients will be impressed with your efficiency.
If you do hit a snag and are afraid you won’t be able to meet a deadline, let the client know as soon as possible to avoid any unwanted surprises.
#7 Encourage honesty
All relationships function best when both parties are open and straightforward, and one of the best ways to maintain positive relationships with clients is to be honest. Answer all questions as truthfully as possible, and if mistakes are made, admit them immediately.
Encourage your clients to be honest, too, emphasizing the fact that failing to provide truthful information could hamper their attorney’s ability to effectively represent them.
#8 Be on their side
Legal professionals should be strong advocates for their clients. Regardless of other circumstances or the probable outcome, make it clear to your client that you stand with them. That’s what they hired you for, and it’s what you’re there for, too.
Do you have suggestions for maintaining client relationships at your law firm? Tell us about them in the comments!