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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of April 19, 2016

Status Reports as a Communication Tool

An interesting twist on keeping your clients informed is a method that I learned years ago from Wes Hackett, an attorney in Michigan: sending clients monthly "status reports."

A status report is a one-page form that indicates the current status of the case or matter. It can have boxes to be checked and lines or blank spaces for brief handwritten or typed comments. One such form supplied by Hackett is broken into four sections. The first covers the type of case or matter being handled and the general progress to date. The second major section on the form is the "Current Matter Status." In this section, there are lines for insertion of pending items. The third section, "Account Status," indicates whether the account is current or behind schedule, with a request for additional funds for the client’s trust account if needed.

Finally, a blank box titled "Other Notes" is provided for miscellaneous comments to the client.

Since this report is only one page long, it can be easily reproduced by several different methods. Status reports can take as little as two minutes to fill out and send off. Doing this on a regular basis (I suggest monthly) lets you communicate directly with the client in an efficient, yet meaningful, way.

A status report is also a great marketing tool because it keeps your name, which will appear prominently on the form, in front of the client. Each month, it is a reminder for the client of who you are, the fact that you’ve looked at their file and thought about their case or matter, and the fact that you are doing what needs to be done to reach the client’s objectives.

From the perspective of client relations or marketing, this is a terrific strategy, but the status report is even more important for the prevention of malpractice. Why?

If you handle each file every month, as you would with a status report procedure in place, you will more likely remember to do every necessary task before any negligence arises.



Status Reports as a Communication Tool

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