Working with clients on cases involves long nights and hard conversations. By the time you’re knee-deep into the paperwork and case details, you’ve probably spent quite a bit of time with them, gaining a pretty good understanding of their habits and tendencies, likes and dislikes. But what’s any relationship without some secrets—and there are still some things that clients don’t tell their lawyers. More often than not, these secrets directly impact your firm’s business. Let’s find out what they are, and how to make sure that if they do impact your bottom line, it’s in a positive way. What aren’t your clients telling you?
What they really think about your website.
Do you have any colleagues or friends who are in law? Do a Google search for their firms’ websites and browse through them. How do they look—and how does yours compare? Yes, your client chose you for your legal expertise, but have you ever wondered how many clients you’ve lost out on because your website was too difficult to navigate/looked like it hadn’t been updated in a while/non-existent? Most clients aren’t likely to come up to you and say, “Hey, the 90s want their website back.”, so odds are you won’t know until it’s too late.
They’d like nothing more than to stay with you… as long as you don’t give them a reason to leave.
Clients who want to keep you on your toes probably won’t tell you this straight up, but leaving your lawyer and starting all over again with a new one is a hassle. Besides, establishing a relationship with anyone takes time and work, let alone a relationship that demands a high level of commitment, confidentiality, and trust, like the one between lawyer and client. But, like any relationship, it can be eroded—by things like showing up late or unprepared to hearings. Don’t give them a reason to leave. In Altman Weil’s 2014 Chief Legal Officer (CLO) Survey, CLOs were asked which service improvements and innovations they would most like to see from their outside counsel. The top improvement, with 58% of respondents, is greater cost reduction. Also at the top of the list are ‘more efficient project management’ (at 57%), and ‘improved budget forecasting’ selected by 56% of respondents. While it seems like CLOs are mostly focusing on price, only 10% of respondents said they wanted the lowest price available, and only 26.2% plan to decrease their use of outside counsel. Instead, 43% of CLOs say they don’t care about law firm delivery models, if they get the good results at a competitive price. Forty-two percent of CLOs say they like working with firms that offer innovative service delivery models. An additional 9% of respondents actively seek out law firms that offer innovative approaches to service delivery. With a majority of CLOs seeking innovative firms and reliable service, you can retain your clients by being their firm of the future.
They did their research on you before committing to you.
Whether it’s Yelp, Google Places, or Avvo, clients are increasingly turning to the internet to conduct research before hiring a lawyer—and whether you put effort into creating an online presence for your firm or not, there is likely information about it online. Maintaining a high level of service and being aware of your brand on review sites will go a long way to ensuring that your clients are confident in their (obviously awesome) choice of your firm.
“Pay attention to me.”
As a lawyer, you’re busy and your time is precious. But that doesn’t mean that you can afford to neglect your clients when they need you. And they do need you! If you really can’t schedule in time to go over the details of a case or even have a short conversation, let them know that your equally skilled and enthusiastic colleague will take care of them and answer their questions as best they can. That way, at least they will know that you care and value their business.