October 10, 2012
Law is a service business and the sooner you understand and accept that the better it will be for everyone involved. I can recall a situation where I was venting to a senior partner about how “difficult” a client was being—at least from my perspective—and the partner stopped me at one point and simply said: “Well, the practice of law would be just great if the clients didn’t get in the way.” He had made his point!
Even when they act in a manner that appears to be overbearing and unreasonably demanding clients should be treated in a professional fashion and, in fact, all communications with the client should be conducted in accordance with the highest ethical standards. This admonition applies not only to the attorney who has primary responsibility for the client but to all persons affiliated with that attorney who come in contact with the client—other attorneys, paralegals, personal assistants and other law firm support personnel.
In addition, however, attorneys seeking great and long-lasting relationships with their clients should make the extra effort to understand the specific personal needs, interests and “quirks” of the client and make sure that this knowledge is integrated into the way that the client engagement is managed. For example, the attorney should be mindful of how the client prefers to work and the attorney should make sure that he or she is available at those times during the day that the client sets aside for discussing legal issues. Great attorneys also seek to develop an understanding of how a particular issue, contract or transaction fits into the client’s overall strategy so that the attorney can focus his or her attention on those aspects of the matter that are truly important to the client.