Becoming Your Clients’ Favorite Person
I recently started working on a case that another lawyer had, well, neglected. This lawyer did not return phone calls or emails, and when the client understandably became frustrated, she was dumped. Although this other attorney had done some of the initial work and filing on the case, the client had handled the vast majority of the paperwork herself. In the process, she unknowingly created a little bit of a mess. This relatively simple matter has now been dragging on for more than five years. When the client had a self-submittal rejected by the Clerk’s office, she knew she had hit a point where she needed an attorney to once and for all wrap up her case.
I have been working with this client for less than a month. This week I have bombarded her with emails to clarify a few things, to request that she send me some supporting documentation, and to lay out a timeline for her in closing the book on this prolonged chapter. In one of my emails, I apologized to her for filling up her inbox, especially so early in the morning. She did not mind, and in fact, declared that I was her “favorite person today!” complete with a smiley emoji.
While there’s still work to be done, which the client understands, there are three things that I’ve done that earned me the favorite person of the day title:
The circumstances of this client seeking my assistance are somewhat unique, but certainly not unheard of. I understand that her biggest frustration was the lack of communication by her previous attorney. I have taken that in to consideration in my interactions with this client. To ensure that she has a positive experience, I am providing the best service possible to her by frequently contacting her to let her know of the progress I’ve made on her case.
This matter has been in the back of my client’s mind for years. It’s unsettled, unfinished, and a source of constant anxiety. By promptly reviewing her file and immediately tackling some preliminary issues, my client knows that I understand her desire to conclude her matter as quick as reasonably possible. Simply empathizing with her frustration and showing that I was serious about achieving her desired resolution has reassured the client that she had made the right choice in seeking the assistance of an attorney.
This client spent her hard-earned money to hire an attorney five years ago. She is now spending more money to finish work that someone else probably should have completed. To add insult to injury, she spent a lot of her own time trying to manage things herself. When we sat down to discuss her case, I provided a fair and honest assessment of the amount of time that I anticipated would be necessary to conclude her matter. I have and will continue to do everything possible to keep my time as close to that original estimate. That means that I send documents that require her signature to her in batches and save time by communicating by email when possible.
While not necessarily revolutionary, use this as a simple (and non-judgmental) reminder that you are providing a service and an experience to your clients. If you aren’t communicating with your clients or doing a good job of timely and efficiently handling their legal issues, there is always someone else out there who would be glad to have those cases. Pick one client, and aim to become their favorite person for the day. The personal and professional results are certain to be rewarding.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success.