By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
All service providers want to deal with clients that value their time
Lawyers, just like other service providers, have their favorite clients.
So you might be thinking “why do I really care? I’m paying for a service.”
Well, the secret is that favorite clients can sometimes get more than just a word of appreciation from their lawyers. Sometimes they get additional invaluable perks
Favored clients sometimes get:
Additional small services for free
Introductions to other fantastic lawyers who can help you
A quick 10 minute call to offer guidance on an issue
Valuable video or article resources
...all for free.
I've dealt with thousands of lawyers in my career. Whether they admit it or not, all of them are more likely to go give one of the perks above if they like the client.
In other words, it can literally pay to be a great client. One huge step to being a great client is to reduce unnecessary time and stress for your lawyer.
Do I have hard data to back this up? Nope. This is a "trust me, bro" situation based on my experience as a lawyer.
The five items below are EASY things any client can do to make their lawyer love them:
1. Send him/her all documents as scanned PDFs.
As a lawyer, an annoying time-wasting hassle is having to deal with documents that are emailed as JPEGs taken from a cell phone camera. It’s even worse if you have a 12 page document that you email as 12 separate JPEGs.
Lawyers read hundreds of pages per day. A little bit of hassle in reading each page because of formatting adds up quickly.
The best way to send such a document is as a single PDF file containing 12 pages. Do this consistently and your lawyer will love you.
Lawyers hate being emailed a 12 page document as 12 JPEgs taken with a smartphone camera (culprit pictured above)
2. If emailing your lawyer to ask for a call, write a line about what you want to discuss.
Lawyers want to be, and have to be on their A game. Part of that is preparation for client communications so that the client always gets top notch legal guidance.
To that end, if you’re asking your lawyer for a call, include a line stating what you’d like to discuss so that your lawyer can be prepared. That preparation is often as simple as glancing at your file or thinking about the issue you’ve mentioned for a minute before getting on the phone with you.
Give your lawyer a heads up about what you want to discuss.
3. Send one email with all the info rather than 4 emails in a row within 40 minutes (for example).
Gather your thoughts, and send one email (or at most two) at a time rather than sending two, three, four, five or more emails in a stream of consciousness.
Remember, if your lawyer is doing their job, they need to carefully read and evaluate what you’re communicating to them. Their end of the communication is serious business (if your lawyer is a serious lawyer).
Clients who send multiple emails in a row within an hour show lawyers that the client is unnecessarily high maintenance.
Speaking frankly, I am less likely to want to deal with such a client in the future, and many lawyers feel the same way.
4. Leave a public review if you loved your lawyer’s work for you.
Real, written reviews from clients are absolutely priceless for law firms and lawyers. These reviews show that you appreciated your lawyer’s work.
The reviews are also a fantastic marketing tool. They show other potential clients that your lawyer can handle your type of case successfully, and that others have had a good experience with them.
The value of these reviews really cannot be overstated.
5. Communicate directly if you are unsatisfied or uncomfortable with something.
If you’re uncomfortable with something your lawyer is doing, you don’t have to just sit there, quietly annoyed and displeased about it.
Eventually, the strain is going to seep through into your relationship with the lawyer. Nine times out of ten, your lawyer will want you to communicate the issue to them in a polite, direct email, or telephone call.
The last thing we want to be doing as lawyers, is attempting to mind-read why a client appears disgruntled or a bit attitude-ey. Oftentimes, the issue can be fixed with a small adjustment. Everyone served by having a smooth, straight-talking relationship between you two.