3 Tips to Becoming an Attorney People Can Approach
Attorneys deal with countless individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds every day. They never know who is going to come walking through their doors looking for help. One thing that many clients have in common despite varying backgrounds and cases are that they tend to be leery of contacting an attorney. They are worried about what the attorney is going to think of them or their specific situation. As a result, they often end up trying to handle matters on their own. When that happens, it never bodes well for the client.
As an attorney, you need to figure out a way to make yourself approachable to potential clients. While you might not realize it, attorneys can be quite intimidating to many individuals. They fear you almost as much as they fear the thought of having to go in front of the judge for sentencing. Making yourself more approachable can go a long way in not only getting more clients through your door, but also in helping them know that they can trust you and that you are there to help them any way you can.
Make yourself more personable.
With more and more people flocking to the Internet to gather information and contact professionals, the person-to-person communication that once existed through necessity is now a thing of the past. People would prefer to email or text someone rather than picking up the phone and talking to that person live. As such, we often end up losing track of our “human” skills, simply meaning that we forget how to interact with someone face-to-face and thereby forfeit building important relationships.
In the legal realm, it is more important than ever that you form meaningful relationships with your clients. Allowing artificial intelligence to step in and dictate the way things operate will only end up making it that much harder for someone to approach you. It’s hard enough to be in a situation where a person has to contact an attorney for help. You don’t want to make it even harder on the client by making them feel like you don’t have time for them or they can’t come to you with questions or concerns. You want to do whatever you can to make the client feel at ease and relaxed. One way to do this is to create a warm and inviting environment where the client can rest assured that they are going to be taken care of every step of the way by someone who is interested in personally speaking with them
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
This age-old adage can be illustrated with the experiences that clients often encounter in a large law firm versus a smaller or solo firm. For example, when you have a big law firm with dozens of lawyers, you often end up shuffling clients between lawyers based on who might be available at the time. This means that the client never knows who they are going to be dealing with from one minute to the next. As a result, they feel like they are just another number and don’t matter as a person.
On the other hand, smaller firms usually have the same lawyer deal with the client from beginning to end. This allows them to form a close, personal relationship with the client. They get to know more about the individual and the inner-workings of their case. As a result, the client doesn’t feel like they need to reiterate everything over and over just because they have a different lawyer working on their case.
Although these two illustrations don’t capture every large and small firm’s client-attorney interactions, they do effectively illustrate the point being made here. Imagine how you would feel if you were constantly tossed between professionals. It would make you feel unimportant and as though your case didn’t merit the undivided attention of a single attorney dedicated to your needs. Regardless of how large your firm may be, you should do your best to make sure the client stays with the same legal counsel throughout the duration of their case. If you need an extra lawyer to step in when the main counsel is unavailable, it should only be one extra person. Throwing dozens of individuals into the mix is only going to stress the client out and make them feel unimportant. Ultimately, put yourself in the client’s shoes and treat them, and their case, the same way you would want to be treated.
Network outside the sphere of the legal profession.
Attorneys often find themselves exclusively spending time with only other fellow attorneys. While there is nothing wrong with this, you need to network outside your sphere of fellow legal professionals. When you start interacting with other professionals, it allows you to communicate differently instead of using nothing but legal jargon.
Since you don’t want to (and shouldn’t) spend your consultations speaking in legalese that only you understand, you need to be able to communicate in a way that the client understands so as to ensure you are on the same page. By cultivating relationships with people from varying professions, you will be able to carry an extended and diverse sense of communication over to your client meetings. Simply going to the club, a business party or a social engagement where there are other business professionals around will enable you to expand your form of communication and eliminate getting into the habit of speaking in nothing but legal jargon.
At the end of the day, practicing law isn’t about just getting another client; it is also about forming a lasting relationship with your clients. After all, some cases can go on for months, even years, depending on the type of case you are dealing with. That’s why it is so important to be able to form lasting relationships that you can count on. The first step in building these lasting relationships, however, is by making yourself approachable and available to potential clients. So ask yourself if there is more you can do to be personable, considerate and approachable in your day-to-day interactions with clients. I guarantee you that if you focus a little more on these three tips, your client relationships (and quantity) will be revolutionized.
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. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h