The best way to get someone else to do something that you want them to do is to make it as easy and painless as possible for them. That includes clients. If you want clients (or potential clients) to call you, to provide you with information or to hire you, you'll be much more successful if you make it easy for them to do so. Unfortunately, too many lawyers create obstacles for clients, rather than removing them.
Lawyers complain all the time about how difficult their clients are to work with, but instead of complaining, it may be time for lawyers to turn the spotlight on themselves to determine if they are to blame (at least in part) for the problem.
How easy is it to work with you and your firm?
Here are some things to think about:
How easy is it for clients or potential clients to reach you, to get information, or to provide you with the help and information you need to represent them effectively? Is your contact information easy to find on your website? Is your firm set up with layers of 'gatekeepers' who make it difficult for clients or potential clients to get the information they need?
Is it easy for clients to make an appointment with you, and are those appointments flexible (In other words, can you meet with a client at their location or elsewhere outside of your office? Can you conduct meetings online so clients do not have to leave their location to meet with you?)
If your client is requied to provide documents or be present at meetings, hearings, depositions, etc., have you given them a written list of what is required? Provided reminders or confirmations of those appointments by telephone or otherwise? Developed a shared calendar so your client could see and confirm upcoming appointments?
Have you been clear about your expectations and the responsibilities of the client in the attorney-client relationship and their role in the matter, or are you assuming that the client 'should' know these things without spelling them out? Even if you think you've advised the client of your expectations and their responsibilities, have you made it easy for them to remember or refer to this information by providing it to them in writing or directing them to this information online, either on your website or in a secure client portal?
Clients are looking for guidance. Have you explained the options available to the client and made recommendations?
Is your work process easy to follow? Have you clearly communicated the steps or stages through which the client's matter must progress? Have you done so in language the client can understand, free of jargon and legal terms (or if legal terms are used, are they fully explained)?
Do you have effective knowledge sharing systems in place so that eveyrone working on a particular client's case has the same information available to them? Do you keep records of conversations with clients so that clients do not have to repeat themselves every time they contact your office?
Are you keeping clients informed, even when there is no activity on their matter to reduce the clients' anxiety and ensure the client that you continue to be on top of their matter? You may be aware that a two month delay is par for the course in this type of case, but chances are that your client does not - at least unless you tell them.
Do you invite client questions and participation and respond without getting defensive?
Are your agreements, billing statements and invoices easy to understand? Do you accept different methods of payment or provide clients options for payment plans?
What other methods do you use to make working with you easier and more convenient for your clients?