Perhaps the most difficult part of running a client-centric law firm is making sure your clients don’t fail to realize their defined goals. While an extranet system works well in setting client expectations and assigning client key tasks, the most important ingredient for success in any client matter is the lawyers willingness to get involved.
At Traverse Legal, we take a stake in the outcome we’ve helped to define with the client.
Sometimes, clients don’t get back to you in a timely fashion. There may be important information or tasks they need to complete. You may need client approval on the next phase of the case.
A good lawyer helps the client realize defined goals. A great lawyer demands that the client protect their own interest, get their tasks accomplished and see the matter through to conclusion. A great lawyer is proactive when it comes to the client’s interest.
One of the many problems with hourly billing is that it fails to align the client’s goals with the lawyer’s goals. Hourly billing drives complacency when it comes to accomplishing defined deliverables.
So what if you do if a client isn’t responding in a timely fashion? The best technique is to pick up the phone and call. Emails can often get lost in the shuffle. If is easy to ignore an email, especially if it’s asking you to make a tough decision or perform a task. An even better way is to have your staff schedule a meeting. Again, email may or may not move the ball. Picking up the phone, getting a live body on the other end and forcing the issue is sometimes part of the job. And if you can’t get an office meeting scheduled, try a GoToMeeting.com conference.
At the end of the day, the lawyer is the one responsible for the deliverables and the outcome. Using the client as an excuse won’t get you very far. For firms that live and die by the value provided, lawyers are driven to push a matter through to completion. They do it because the can only see value as the commodity which is bartered. And a bad result reflects on them as much as it does the client irrespective of the cause.