What if your law firm's client relationship management system was not just about the software you use, but about your actual relationship with your client? When I say relationship, I mean your one-on-one, human contact relationship. I mean, as in your personal relationship with your client.
I will bet you are like most lawyers out there. I know this because you have landed on this page and have started reading this article! I am going to encourage you to read this article right the way through and reach out to me if you have any questions. Seriously, this simple ninja move I am about to show you will have life-changing effects. I am not kidding when I say I think it just might have saved my life.
I get it, you want to be the best divorce lawyer you can be, but you already have a lot on your plate. If you are in private practice like I am, you not only have to worry about your caseload, but you also have to worry about billings, profit margins, keeping your “bar” or Law Society happy, and let’s not even begin with staffing issues, and the relationships you have with other lawyers.
On top of everything else, you want to ensure you do great work and have clients happy with their results. Believe it or not, whenever we see an unhappy lawyer, a huge part of what makes them so unhappy is likely because they are working really hard and yet unable to keep on top of everything they need to do. Despite working hard their clients are unhappy because they do not get around to doing what their clients need.
How do you create happy clients and do it on a consistent basis, you ask? Well, let me tell you. It is easier, quicker, and much simpler than you think. And no, I am not talking about the best family law software out there or anything like that.
Here’s my strategy for creating raving fans.
Most lawyers in private practice get so overwhelmed that they do not know how to keep on top of their workload and keep their clients happy. Mostly they are buried in their own stress and overwhelm and their clients are angry with them for not getting back to them, not seeing their cases move forward, and are worried their lawyer is not ready for the next step of their case (trial, interim hearings, mediations etc.).
That is why I developed a system to keep on top of my workload and keep my clients ridiculously happy with my work at the very same time. When I say my clients are raving fans, I am not kidding.
What do our family law clients want? They want the best divorce lawyer possible, and the best divorce lawyer for them is someone who:
Most lawyers do not have a clue about how to manage their law firm client relationships and get it very wrong. Do you do what I used to do? I would take my clients’ instructions, write them down, and then let them know I would provide them with a draft of what I had created at a later time for their review and approval.
Then I would wait until I was not disturbed before getting around to preparing that letter, email, document brief, legal argument, or what have you (I often worked during the evening, or weekend to catch up when doing so).
This poor strategy made two incorrect assumptions:
Is this you too? Perhaps it is a few days, weeks, or even months that go by. You know you have to get around to writing that material, but you have been really busy. Every time you go to write something, you get interrupted, don’t feel like it, or are struggling with remembering what you were supposed to say. This is just one of your cases, and of course, there are many others that you have to think about.
Not to mention, the more time that goes by, the less sense your notes now make. Your client’s instructions have become foggy.
Finally, maybe after your client has followed up once or twice or even three times, you get down to it and send your client the draft of what you have finally written. Your client is clearly unhappy with you. It is highly likely you get something incorrect, maybe even a small detail. So, now your client trusts you even less. They are now wondering if you were even listening to them in the first place and might even be questioning your competence, and even worse, they question whether or not you even care about them or their case.
Now, because you went into the office on a weekend (or shut yourself in a room at home to get this done) and did not get to spend time with your own family, you send your client a bill. Your client not only does not appreciate the bill but wonders if you really spent the amount of time you charged.
So, you have worked hard, missed out on time with your own family, and have an unhappy client. This issue is probably duplicated all over your caseload. Don’t feel bad about this, it is a truth for most lawyers. But don’t despair, you can fix this and it is easier than you think.
I remember once it took me almost two years to deal with moving forward with a case. It made my clients super angry and yes, they did report me to the Law Society which caused me a lot of grief, time and stress. What I could have done instead was used this uber simple system.
When I incorporated this strategy for my law firm client relationship management system, everything changed. Now, from the very first time I meet with a new potential client, I tell them that I do two things very differently from most lawyers and that if they want to work with me I require them to work with me on their matter.
I explain to them that I do most of my work on their matter with them there, present with me, either in my office, on the phone, or on Zoom. We work together to make progress on their case. It is a team effort and we are in it together.
The second thing I tell them is that I always set their next appointment so that they know their case is always moving towards its conclusion.
This one strategy has been a key to my becoming a successful divorce lawyer. What results do you get when you incorporate doing work with your client present and setting the next appointment? Here are just some of the benefits:
So, really, that is it. This simple client relationship management strategy has been life-changing for me, my family, and my clients. That is what I want for you too.