Now there is a “rocket science” tip for ya. Is there any lawyer who doesn’t understand that ticking off a client undermines their marketing efforts? Heck, not only will a client with a grievance not give you any more business (or referrals), but they are more than certain to tell up to 10 people what a bad lawyer and human being you are.
Failing to communicate is the single most often complaint made by clients to state bars. Effective communications with clients is basic to marketing one’s practice. So, why would a lawyer put themselves in a position of hurting their practice. Both in the form of the time it will take to respond to the inquiry from the bar, or in obtaining more work or word of mouth referrals from clients.
Baffling isn’t it.
Thomas Scheffey, a reporter for The Connecticut Law Tribune has an article “Tips to Help Lawyers Steer Clear of Client Grievances” that appears on Law.com’s Small Firm Business. He shares a number of tips from Anthony Nuzzo, an attorney who represents lawyers with ethics or grievance issues before the bar. Nuzzo’s tips include:
- Communicate with your client (“Probably the No. 1 thing you have to do…” according to the article);
- Return phone calls the same day;
- Don’t take matters you’re not equipped to handle;
- Document your telephone (and in-person) conversations;
- Execute a written fee agreement that outlines the extent of your representation;
- Avoid conflicts of interest (especially in real estate transactions where there may be a situation of dual representation);
- Never sue a client for a fee (because “a counterclaim for legal malpractice” is almost certain); and
- Being careful with client confidential information on a laptop you might misplace/lose/forget.
Some very helpful tips there, not just to avoid hassles with the state bar, but to avoid business development blunders as well.