As a new lawyer, your most important job is to keep the client happy. Happy clients stay put. Unhappy clients go elsewhere. You want to be responsible for having clients stay, not having them go. To keep clients satisfied and happy, keep the following points in mind.
Develop a plan of attack. At the onset of a case, develop a plan to win. Start with the end in mind, and draft a plan that achieves that end. Clients like lawyers who know where they are going and know how to get there.
Discuss it with the client. Once you have a plan, don't be so presumptuous to implement it without first discussing it with the client. Listen to the client, get her input and adjust your plan accordingly. Be flexible. Remember, you're working for the client and your role is to fulfill her goals, not yours.
Obtain client approval before spending her money. Whenever you are going to spend the client's money, such as when hiring an expert, make sure to get the client's approval first. Nothing is more awkward than spending the client's money and having her disapprove.
Keep the client informed. Throughout the course of litigation, keep the client in the loop. When you take a deposition, send the client a summary. If you prepare a motion, send her a copy. Let the client know everything that is happening. At a minimum, send your clients a monthly status report.
Stay informed about your clients. Learn as much as you can about your clients. Go to their web pages and review the contents. Read the business section of newspapers to stay informed about them.
Deliver on your promises. When you make a promise, deliver. If you promise to draft a motion by a certain date, do it. If you make a promise and don't fulfill it, you lose credibility. So make promises wisely. Don't ever promise that you'll win a motion or win a case. You have no control over what a judge or jury will do. You're a lawyer, not a psychic.
Don't shoot from the hip. Just as you need to think before you make a promise, don't shoot from the hip. If a client asks for legal advice, don't tell her the first thing that comes to mind. Tell her you'll look into it and get back to her. Do the research, find the correct answer and call her back as soon as possible.
Aim for perfection. Whether it is writing a letter, report, motion or brief, aim for perfection. Revise it, revise it and revise it again until it is flawless. Clunky grammar, typos and mistakes make you look bad. Don't look bad.
Respond promptly. Promptly respond to your clients' emails, phone calls and letters. You should respond to your client within hours. If you're going to be out of town on business or on vacation, make arrangements to stay in touch with them.
Be polite. Your clients can be rude. You can't. No matter what clients do or say, whether they raise their voice, or insult or criticize, don't return it in kind. You're a professional, stay cool and remain polite.
Have a positive attitude. In all that you do, have a positive attitude. Be upbeat and pleasant. Life is too short to act any other way.
Listen. Take time to listen to your clients and understand their wants. Ask questions and probe to make sure you and your client are on the same page. You are here to serve their interests. To do so, you must first know what those interests are.
Exceed expectations. If you want to impress, don't settle with meeting your clients' expectations. Exceed them. Find that extra case to support your motion, track down that witness everyone assumed would never be found or win the hearing no one thought you could. Challenge yourself to do the best you can, and then some.
As an attorney, your first duty is to your client. Learn what your clients want and determine what you can to do to fulfill those needs. By keeping them happy, you'll keep them coming back.
Read more on Frank Ramos' blog, Tips for Young Lawyers. Francisco "Frank" Ramos, Jr. is the administrative partner at Clarke Silverglate in Miami, Florida, where he practices in the areas of products liability, employment, commercial litigation, medical malpractice, class actions and general liability.
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