Meeting Clients’ Expectations with Reality on the Ground
Time, Money, and Ease. Pick Two
It’s not always that easy to get exactly what you want. Especially for a client. There’s so much to consider for each individual case. There’s diverging goals, time restraints, best bets, legal strategies, and more. All the training in the world won’t prepare you for the full scope of issues that even a single case can bring you.
When dealing with a new client, there’s a number of different approaches. Some are desperate. Some are looking for a quick result. Others are simply difficult. Put all of these factors together and you’re looking at a real test of your law degree. The question often isn’t what they’re looking for, it’s how to get there.
When dealing with such a situation, it’s best to lay some ground rules. Make sure that your clients have a clear understanding of the period the case will take. Talk to them about whether they expect to be in court or not. Discuss the pros and cons of each approach, and potential fallbacks in case they fail. Go over every part of their case meticulously. You’re a good attorney, but you’re not a miracle worker.
Only with the understanding of what your firm does and how it gets there will clients be satisfied. Is your client looking for a multi-million dollar settlement for a slip and fall injury? Are they looking for an impossible plea deal? You are the arbiter of their future in many ways. There’s a chance to give clients a reasonable picture of what they’re looking at.
Keep a logbook of red lines. Lines that clients cannot cross, regardless of their time, money, and influence. Stick to your guns and your principles. Never let a client snow you just because they’ve worked with you before. You’re the counsel, not the other way around.
Michael Ehline is a leading personal injury attorney in California. He writes these articles to help new and learning attorneys and foster closer attorney-client ties.