Lawyer appreciation 101

Lawyer appreciation 101
There are poorly represented clients who think they have received the best service, and there are those that receive excellent service but believe they were poorly served.

While the first scenario is shameful, the latter is simply tragic.

In the second scenario, the praiseworthy lawyer has not taught his or her client to appreciate efforts on his or her behalf. Teaching appreciation is part of client management. We all acknowledge its importance, but sometimes fail to implement it.

But failing to foster an appreciative relationship can jeopardize a file. The client may lose trust in you, and become less motivated to co-operate or pay your invoice.

The following are some avoidable pitfalls that create dissatisfied clients:

Promising the world

Creating unrealistic expectations as to fees, results, and timelines to appease your client: Lawyers set themselves up for failure and unnecessary stress when they do not properly manage these expectations. Well-defined and reasonable expectations are also vital in that they are a reference point for when you exceed them.

Instant service

Responding immediately to every e-mail or phone call (especially after hours) may appear, at first glance, to be good service. So would allowing frequent unannounced drop-ins. However, this only creates a constant expectation of immediate availability in the client. It also sets a standard that cannot be consistently met and interferes with your productivity.

Similarly, condoning a client’s habitual failure to attend appointments will foster a disrespect for your time. Remember, you control your time and how to use it, not your client.

Information, information, information

Failing to report to clients keeps them in the dark. Unless you inform clients of the challenges faced and overcome, they will be unaware of your efforts on their behalf. They will presume that nothing is being done on their file or that you’ve not faced any difficulties.

Reporting could be a letter, engaging them face to face, or a phone call. The key is that the client stays informed in a timely manner. They should never have to wait a week to hear what happened in their motion or whether a transaction closed successfully.

In addition to helping clients stay informed on the progress of their matter, regular reporting helps them fully understand their case — risks and all.

A satisfied client comes down to setting expectations that you can meet and regular, timely reporting to the client. Appreciative clients are vital to business and reputation growth. A happy client will tell two people about you while an unhappy client will tell 10.

With the new year upon us, let’s resolve to create an environment of appreciation for the work we do. 

This article was written in collaboration with Kevin Cheung.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered on a regular basis, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Alberta’s provincial court is planning expanded WebEx remote capability in most locations

COVID-19 and the courts: June 8 update

Federation of Law Societies backs proposed beneficial ownership registry

Resource on abortion laws and policies in Nova Scotia updated in light of COVID-19

Space travel should be taxed as shareholder benefit, not as business trip: Federal Court of Appeal

Conducting all hearings remotely in the fall high on Nova Scotia Chief Justice’s list of priorities

Most Read Articles

SCC rules on entrapment in dial-a-dope drug investigations

COVID-19’s profound impact on justice

B.C. Court of Appeal quashes tribunal decision over decision not to allow lawyer to represent party

Survey suggests 50% of lawyers see working-from-home having a negative effect on career amid COVID