5 Tips For Keeping Clients Happy as a Solo Attorney

By Eddie Gamez - February 4, 2016
5 Tips For Keeping Clients Happy as a Solo Attorney

Keeping clients happy is essential to running a successful solo practice. These great tips can help ensure you’re providing the best customer service in your law firm.

The number one thing solo attorneys constantly worry about is where they’re getting their next piece of business.

Whether it’s from referrals or attracting new prospects, getting new clients as a solo lawyer is tough. But what about once you have clients? This is where customer service comes into play and truly sets the foundation for a successful law practice. In fact, keeping your clients happy may be the key to never worrying about new business.  

How you treat your clients will become a defining part of your reputation, and your current clients can ultimately become some of your biggest brand ambassadors. Keeping them happy means increasing the likelihood they’ll refer you to their network.

How you treat your clients will become a defining part of your reputation Click To Tweet

Here are some tips to make sure you always keep your clients happy:

1)  Improve communication

Ask any experienced attorney what they do to keep clients happy, and almost all of them will say they maintain good communication.

Communication is a process, and attorneys must remain consistent in the frequency and style of their communication. It’s important to carefully review your communication habits and always think of ways you can improve communication with your clients.

Keep in mind that your preferred method of communicating might not work for everyone so you must take the time to tailor your communication according to your client’s preferences. For example, one client might want communication weekly while another might want it daily. Some clients would rather communicate by phone, and some even request in-person meetings for everything. Be sure to embrace your client’s communication preferences so you can forge a better relationship with them.

Also, remember the importance of following up. When a client reaches out, always follow up as soon as you get the message. If you cannot answer their question immediately, let them know you are aware they have reached out and give them a time frame for when they can expect to hear back from you.

You want clients to feel as if they are your priority. Updating your clients on their case, even if there is nothing important to report, will make them feel valued.  Consistent communication will keep your clients happy because they’ll feel reassured and they’ll know they can rely on you to keep them informed.

2)  Handle money matters immediately

Costs and billing issues are some of the most sensitive topics when it comes to legal matters. From the beginning, you should have a clear outline of your costs to avoid any confusion and ensure your client knows what he or she is getting into financially.

Once the client has agreed to the fees, remember to update them on costs that arise throughout their case. Also, make sure you have an adequate billing system in place and keep your invoicing as simple as possible to prevent potential confusion.

3)  Own your mistakes

As in any firm, mistakes can happen in solo law practices. Whether it’s from a miscommunication or administrative errors, everyone knows it’s how we handle our mistakes that really matters.

The best way to handle mistakes with a client is to simply admit it and apologize. Never underestimate your client’s capacity for being understanding. They do not expect you to be perfect.

In fact, it’s very likely your clients may even respect you more for owning up to your mistakes. However, what they definitely won’t appreciate are lies or excuses.

Clients want to know that you care more about your relationship with them than your own pride. Owning a mistake demonstrates humility, while as denying a mistake is often a sign of arrogance. No one wants to work with someone who can’t admit when they’re wrong.

Remember to always apologize after admitting you’ve made a mistake. Apologies hold a lot of power for both you and your client. If done sincerely, a good apology can mitigate any of the negative emotions your client may have felt because of the mistake since it shows how much you respect them.

4)  Show appreciation

Client appreciation is critical for keeping clients happy. Studies show that 68% of customers leave a business relationship because of a perceived indifference on the part of the company. The same can happen in an attorney-client relationship. If you don’t show your client you care, then you risk losing them to your competitors. Showing appreciation not only keeps your clients happy, but it also creates loyalty.

Client appreciation is critical for keeping clients happy Click To Tweet

Appreciation doesn’t always mean going out and buying gifts. It simply means treating clients like human beings and not numbers. Show your clients you care and be sincere. You can do this by:

  • Remembering their name
  • Taking an interest in their lives
  • Recalling the personal details they’ve shared with you
  • Letting them vent about their case
  • Keeping your promises to them
  • Asking them for feedback

Remember to check in with clients even after you’ve finished representing them in a case. Touching base with a former client is as easy as a phone call, email or even a LinkedIn message. If you want to go above and beyond, you can send clients handwritten thank you notes for using your legal services.

Additionally, you should never forget to acknowledge when a client has given you a referral. Consider sending them a small gift as a token of your appreciation for sending you new business. Even if the referral doesn’t work out, you should thank your client for thinking of you.

5)  Be selective

It can sometimes be easier to keep a client happy if they are easy to work with and have reasonable expectations, which is why you need to be selective about who you represent.

Many solos fall into the trap of thinking they HAVE to represent every person that comes to them, but you have to keep your firm’s reputation in mind. You never want to put yourself in a position where you know your client is going to be impossible to please. If a client doesn’t seem like a good fit for your practice, then you have the option of declining.

As solo attorneys, it can be easy to forget just how important customer service is to our image and referral potential. Your clients are an extension of your brand. Treat them as such, and you will excel in building a successful law practice with a positive reputation and reliable referral network.

About Eddie Gamez

Eddie Gamez is a Law Firm Suites staff writer and stand-up comedian. You can follow him on Twitter (EddieDGamez) if you need a laugh.

17 thoughts on “5 Tips For Keeping Clients Happy as a Solo Attorney

  1. How to maintain clients is not an easy task. The tips given here seems to be ordinary but these are not so. Just evaluate each one. Pay one day on each tip, you will get certainly a change.

    • Totally agreed JK. Most of the things you need to do on the “business” side of a law practice to be successful are exactly that, ordinary. I think there are two challenges for a lot of lawyers (especially solos): (1) what is ordinary for many business people is not always so for attorneys (who get little business training); and (2) getting those ordinary things done consistently, in the context of a busy practice, to actually see results. What do you think?

  2. Great piece. I just went solo a month ago and if there is any issue bothering me is get clients. After reading this write up, I realise I have been erring badly. I have lost communication with old clients and I don’t follow up on them, bc I have the mindset that they shud be the ones to reach me. (because they don’t pay well and I may appear desperate) but with an effective means of communication, I think I can get them back and paying well!! Thanks!!!

    • Thanks for your comments Scott. Most attorneys find that a significant portion of their annual revenue comes from repeat business from existing clients (or from their referrals), but it’s important to have a system in place to stay in contact with those clients so when the have a need for counsel again, they call you and not someone else.

  3. All excellent points!

    Curiously…these are also critical tips for developing and keeping clients for *any* attorney (solo or otherwise)…or for any business! In terms of any service sector (including the practice of law), I’d add a fifth point, which is on the other end of spectrum of worrying about where the next client will come from: It’s critical to pay attention to the details of client service and communication when you have a ton on your plate and/or other matters are genuinely absorbing the lion’s share of your attention. I’ve learned that while it’s necessary for me to triage different clients’ issues according to which need or deadline is most critical, Client No. 2 doesn’t care (and shouldn’t care!) that Client No. 1’s problem is actually more pressing: To Client 2, it’s not.

    The curse of (and secret to success in) a successful practice is figuring out how to do all of the work, one thing at time…while making it look that every matter is getting your best attention 100% of the time…or at the very least, carefully and respectfully managing every client’s expectations about when their matter will be addressed. No lawyer can do Everything All The Time–it’s not possible, and trying is a good way to ensure you give bad service to everybody. Clients understand that we’re busy–it’s actually a good sign that you’re in demand, and therefore (arguably) know what you’re doing. But if make any client feel like they’re second-class, you’re going to lose them, and any potential referrals from them, too.

    • Excellent point Kas. Making clients feel like that their matter is the most pressing thing you have on their plate, while balancing the realities of managing a full case-load is truly an art that must be mastered.

  4. You seemed to hit all of the emotional points. Even if you don’t “win” the case as a solo, your clients want to know that you worked hard for them. They will pass this along.

  5. I thought it was interesting that you suggest owning up to your mistakes. As a new lawyer you run the chance of not being liked it you mess up but if you mess and play it off well it can possibly benefit you more. Clients will respect you more if they can see that you are actually human. I really enjoyed this article. Thank you.

  6. I totally agree, making sure your accountability is transparent to your clients while showing them that you actually do care is so important. I know anytime i choose to get into business with someone i mainly do it because i know that my help would make their lives easier and that feeling knowing i was able to help someone is what drives me everyday.

  7. Hey Eddie,

    Indeed these are valuable tips for a healthy relationship with clients. It’s important to keep in mind that the existing clients can bring more new clients. So, here are few more to add along with these tips.

  8. One of the things I like is that always keeping an open line of communication is a good idea especially when you’re on solo practice. It’s also a good idea to adapt communication styles–like if one client prefers calls over the phone, while another looks for face-to-face meetings, and yet another is only reachable by email–it’s always good to be flexible! While I have no experience with working as a lawyer, it’s at least nice to see that communications are still key when it comes to talking with lawyers.

  9. I really appreciate the article! I think communication is a great idea to maintain a good relationship with your client and keep them happy. Many people are hesitant in communicating to the lawyer for so many reasons. Therefore, you need to try to make your client comfortable with you when they are communicating with you.

  10. You made a great point about improving communication and how that can help your clients be as happy as possible. My husband and I are looking for a civil litigation attorney and we wanted to find out how attorneys keep people happy. We will keep these tips in mind as ew search for a professional that can help us best.

  11. Thanks for talking about how clients want to feel like an attorney cares about their relationship. It is important to consider this as it can help clients be confident in an attorney and possibly refer them. My mom needs someone to help her bring my grandma from Guatemala, so I’ll look for someone like this.

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