5 Tips For Improving Your Client Relations

July 1999

by Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC

Here are 5 of the many tips I've learned over the years to help any lawyer develop good client relations.

  1. Believe that the client is number one. Attorneys need to take a customer-service approach to dealing with clients. This may be a new concept for lawyers brought up on the idea of "client control," which basically means that the lawyer is the boss and the client better stay out of the way! Client control is an antiquated concept, and it has no place in the modern practice of law.

  2. Return phone calls. Sounds simple, yet the single most-frequently registered complaint with state bars across the country is the failure of attorneys to return their telephone calls. I know one attorney who has a very successful practice, and who keeps getting return clients. I asked him how he did it, and he let me in on his secret: he makes a point of returning all telephone calls within four hours.

  3. Visit the client. You can learn a great deal about clients by visiting them in their place of business. A letter or a phone call can only go so far. In order to really understand clients, you need to learn about the territory where they live or work.

  4. Advise your clients about changes in the law that impact them. By sending a note, clipping or letter highlighting changes in the law that have occurred in your area of expertise, clients will know that you're up to date and that you care about them. This is also a great marketing opportunity, because by sending clients information of related interest, you can let them know that you also perform services in these other areas.

  5. Communicate regularly with your clients. It's important to let clients know what's happening with their matter, and one way to do that is to send status reports on a regular basis. Even if there is nothing much to report, tell the client that things are going as projected. Think of this communication as a way to educate the client about the legal process and as an opportunity for cementing your relationship. (Contact the author for a free sample of a status report.)

In summary, clients are mostly concerned about your commitment. If you are dedicated to them-and can prove it, your clients will come back to you time after time and refer you with a big smile.

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July 1999