How To Win Over A Difficult Legal Client

//How To Win Over A Difficult Legal Client

No one likes a difficult legal client, but we’ve all had to work with one at some point or another. Maybe they’re extra demanding or have unrealistic expectations of what your firm can do for them. Or maybe they don’t provide you with the time or information you need to complete your work. But before throw in the towel on a client relationship or let it ruin your workdays for the foreseeable future, it’s in your firm’s best interest to try making it work. The client may never be your favorite, but a few simple actions can make a dramatic difference in the quality of your professional relationship:

Explain how and why you’re taking a specific course of action

Sometimes legal clients feel overwhelmed by jargon and details they don’t understand. In these cases, a simple effort to help the client understand the logic and legal foundation behind your work can transform the attorney-client relationship. Avoid talking down to your client, but take the time to offer a clear explanation of why you are approaching their case the way you are. If the client has feedback, listen attentively and respond to their concerns. A lot of the time clients are stressed by being involved in legal matters, and not understanding the process or having no control over the situation can lead to a short temper. Truly listening to your client’s concerns and making them feel heard can pacify them enough to help ease the tension.

Offer to meet in person or over the phone instead of talking via email

Often, an in-person meeting can diffuse some tension, especially if a client is confused by your actions or feels that you are not giving them enough attention. An in-person meeting is also a great time to go over complicated paperwork and make sure the client feels that they have a secure grasp on what is happening and why, as well as the timeline of their matter.

Acknowledge why they’re feeling frustrated and offer what you can to fix the situation

A cranky client’s frustration may not have anything to do with you, but you are still there to help them through a complex legal matter. Let the client know that you understand they are unhappy and ask what you can do to help. The simple act of acknowledging their problems and making an effort to contribute to the solution may make a difference in how the client thinks of your firm, even if some problems remain.

Managing client relationships can be a difficult part of your job, but they’re incredibly important to the reputation of your small law firm. Before communication goes sour, make sure to address client needs, explain your processes and give them enough face time. Taking these steps can likely patch up any problems you may have and help prevent any further ones from forming.

Your firm can also adopt tech tools to help streamline client management and communications. Curious if tech could help you wow clients? Request a free law firm tech evaluation today.

By |August 4th, 2015|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.