Joey Asher’s article “Keep It Simple, Stupid” on New York suggests that, when you answer a client’s question as to how their matter is progressing, you not spend time regurgitating all the “things” that have been done on their file. To emphasize the point, he relates a personal experience that stuck with him, as well shares how Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell got to the point when asked a question.

Rather, the client wants to know what the likely outcome will be and how soon. They do not want a dissertation on how you have spent all those billable hours they are going to have to pay for. Their thinking big picture, bottom line… i.e., how close you are to a satisfactory conclusion or at least to the next significant step in the process. And you need to be prepared to do so in a succinct fashion. As Joey tells us, Powell’s “tight and simple answer inspired confidence.”

Why is that important to business development? Well, we know that most legal work comes from existing clients (either in the form of additional work or referrals to others), so keeping clients happy is a critical legal marketing tool. Accordingly, it is a good idea to have a well thought out answer to the question about how things are going at the ready, but keep it simple in order to enhance the client’s confidence in you, and in their decision to having selected you in the first place.