Practicing law is more than advocating for clients by appearing in court, negotiating and preparing contracts or signing papers. The key to running a successful firm is managing and developing the business. Certainly, being a knowledgeable and highly-skilled attorney is essential to attracting and retaining clients, but it takes more to build a successful practice.
As with any enterprise, it starts with developing relationships with clients and delivering exceptional service. Not only do clients expect you to have command of the law, they are looking to you for solutions that will address their problems and fulfill their objectives. Let’s take a look at how building relationships can propel your practice.
In order to gain and keep their trust, you must be able to communicate effectively by keeping clients informed about the status of their matter and obstacles that arise. More than this, however, the key to communication is listening intently to your client’s to understand their needs. By relating to your client as a person, the relationship will flourish.
Openness and honesty is the foundation of attorney-client relationships. Your reputation depends on having integrity and this means always giving your clients candid advice. At the same time, it’s as simple as keeping your promises and doing what you say you’re going do, whether by returning a call, promptly responding to clients’ questions and concerns, or meeting a deadline. Of course, attorneys must also adhere to professional rules of conduct by acting in the client’s best interest.
It is critical to manage client expectations by being realistic about their prospects and upfront about the costs associated with resolving their issue. This requires agreeing on fees at the outset and anticipating contingencies that could lead to additional costs.
Being an advocate often involves vigorously fighting for your clients, but it goes without saying that clients should be treated with dignity and respect. You also need to go the extra mile by creating an atmosphere that is kind and receptive.
By offering value, clients will be more likely to depend on you. This means stepping out of your legal comfort zone by learning about their lives and goals, providing pro bono advice and services, offering helpful referrals to other professional services, and sharing information. In the end, gaining the appreciation of clients depends on showing that you care.
In short, building solid relationships with your clients is vital to your firm’s success. While having legal know-how and a marketing strategy are fundamental components of any practice, satisfied clients are the key to the business side of law.