Clients are the lifeblood of any firm- but they can also be an attorney’s worst enemy. They often make a case far more complicated than it needs to be, cost themselves and their attorney extra time and money, or create unnecessary distractions that can become a major source of problems for firms of all sizes.
Finding ways to help your clients not make a tricky situation worse is an important part of becoming more effective and successful as a lawyer- and the idea of building a better client is something that many lawyers don’t take advantage of.
The problem that lawyers face is finding a client that strikes a good balance between ignorance of the law and the belief that they know what they are doing better than their attorney. You don’t want to come across as being dismissive of your client’s ideas, but you also want to ensure that your client has enough information to ensure that their case goes as well as possible. You already know that your client is probably spending time getting legal information from Google- or less reputable sources.
This can create a multitude of problems- as one comic once quipped about medical information online “I discovered that I either have a pulled muscle or pancreatic cancer.” Too much of a good thing can be very dangerous when it comes to clients in a law firm.
But your clients are telling you something- what they really want is information, and the best way to build the client you want is to provide them with a reliable source of knowledge that will help both of you in your case.
There are several ways to accomplish this. One of the absolute best ways to educate your client is by providing the information they want yourself. Perhaps the best way to educate your clients is to have a website that provides the information they need. You can direct your clients to the site to answer questions any time, day or night.
And you don’t need to be an expert writer to make an educational site work for you. Some attorneys choose to create videos that explain a specific topic in depth. Others may simply provide a basic article with links to reputable sites. Others may offer podcasting, use social media, or even offer occasional chat sessions to answer questions.
The important thing is that you are offering customers a way to get the information that they need, and the information you want them to have.
The goal isn’t to hide things from your customer, but simply to serve as a directory toward the information that will help them the most on their case.
No matter how you choose to educate your current clients, there is another benefit as well. Chances are, if current clients are looking for information about a particular topic, so are your potential clients. Providing relevant, accurate, timely information can not only help ensure that your clients don’t become their own worst enemy, it can mean that future clients come to you better educated and more able to help themselves.
In the long run, building a better client means building a better practice.