The midst of a pandemic doesn’t seem like a logical time to focus on building client relationships. However, this is an important aspect of your legal practice at any time! Perhaps it is even more important now.
Building the client relationship logically begins with attracting prospective clients who need your services. Thus, it is vitally important that you clearly communicate through your website, social media, print or electronic advertising who you are and the type of legal services you provide. Keep your media, advertisements, website and other firm communications accurate, current and designed to resonate well with your desired clientele. Increase your involvement with your community, “network”, and work weekly on creating a continuous stream of the best advertising – word of mouth referrals.
- Effectively communicate who you are & what services you offer
- Follow up on prospective client contacts
- Use effective client communication to keep clients informed
- Send File Closing Letter & Closed Client Survey when you conclude the representation
- Reach out to clients to see how they are doing & how you can be of service
First impressions matter, so once a prospective client contacts your firm, be sure to follow up in a timely manner. With many clients practicing social distancing or working from home, they often expect immediate responses to their calls or emails. Listen carefully to what the prospective client presents as the legal matter for which representation is being sought. As OBLIC has warned, resist the temptation to dabble, and ALWAYS run a conflict check before undertaking the representation.
OBLIC has also informed recently of the importance of using engagement and fee agreements to communicate with clients. With many clients now relying on email or other electronic communications rather than in-person meetings, timely responding to emails gains new priority. It’s still a good idea, when the matter warrants, to write a client letter on letterhead and attach it as a PDF sent via email. This can signal to the client an increased importance to the communication and that the letter needs their attention.
Timely and regularly informing the client of the status of the representation is essential to building trust and rapport with your client. These can be detailed reports, or often very simple updates or status reports depending on the nature of the matter. The client will be far more satisfied with your representation, and much better prepared to make important decisions along the way, if they feel they have been clearly kept in the loop. When you conclude the representation, send a file closing letter and give the client the file. We recommend that firms send a survey at the conclusion of their representation to receive the client’s comments and feedback – it is amazing what you might learn and improve upon!
Keeping in touch with former clients is also a good practice, particularly now as many feel isolated and would appreciate a friendly face/voice. Checking in on former clients may also create an opportunity for those clients to consider additional legal services your firm can provide, such as estate planning, updating documents, etc. Whatever your practice area, cultivating positive client relationships will pay dividends in the future.