Thursday, July 3, 2008

Effective Client/Counsel Relationships

Dustin Cole, the president of Attorneys Master Class, has an excellent article in this month's the Nebraska Lawyer called "Four Steps to Building Great Client Relationships."  Although the article is written from an attorney's viewpoint, the tips apply equally to clients and attorneys.

The first step is to choose your relationship carefully.  If you meet with a client/attorney and you have a bad feeling about things--walk away.  Very rare is the relationship that starts out uneasy and improves over time; and, if you are not comfortable initially, you will be spending time on the relationship that should be spent on the case.

The second step is to define the relationship.  For lawyers, that means walking through your fee contract, billing procedures and the best way to keep in touch.  For clients, that involves discussing what you hope to get out of the representation, in what manner, and how often, you want to be kept informed, and how long--and how much--the matter may take to resolve.

The third step is to actually keep in contact.  Mr. Cole makes a great point when he states that "every time you communicate [you are] doing only one of two things: increasing trust or decreasing it."  The best way to increase trust is to keep in contact.  Lawyers should expect to be in contact at least once a month, even if nothing is going on, to provide an update and answer questions.  Clients should contact their lawyers when questions arise about the case status or information becomes available that the lawyers does not know about.

Mr. Cole's final step is to consistently apply these rules.  Lawyers should remember before making exceptions that 'today's favors are tomorrow's demands,' and clients should remember that it is difficult for their lawyers to respond to unanswered questions.  For more information on this and other issues, you are encourged to visit Mr. Cole's website: 

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