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Tips for Managing Client Expectations as a Law Firm

Interlegal Permanent Officer

Interlegal Permanent Officer

18.09.23


Wondering how to manage client expectations as a law firm? Then you are at the right place.  With clients becoming increasingly tech-savvy and well-informed, their expectations from law firms have grown manifold. In today’s fast-paced environment, clients expect their law firm to deliver high-quality work while meeting deadlines and achieving favourable outcomes. However, sometimes these expectations may be unrealistic or unclear which can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration on the part of the client, leading to a risk of burnout, higher cost, and more labour on the part of the firm. 

Hence in this fiercely competitive legal industry, if a law firm wants to succeed and grow, then how well they manage client expectations plays a crucial role. Strengthening client relationships aids not only in the retention of existing clients but also in captivating new clients, along with the fostering of a positive reputation. Setting realistic goals goes a long way in avoiding client disappointment and mitigating the risk of severing the attorney-client relationship which is detrimental to any law firm’s reputation.

Understanding the Importance of Managing Client Expectations

Managing client expectations means providing the clients with a reasonable and realistic assessment of their legal scenario. It entails explaining the scope of the firm’s relationship with them including; what all services are being offered to them and to what extent. The importance of managing client expectations underlies the fact that the path to client satisfaction begins with setting realistic and achievable expectations, which helps a lot in retaining valuable clients.

Mismanaged client expectations, on the other hand, can cause the client to set unattainable goals, which when unrealised, leaves them dissatisfied, resulting in the disintegration of their trust in the firm. By setting realistic client expectations; all the client’s confusion, anxiety, and tension can be set free. In the long run the better the client’s experience, the more loyal and fulfilled they will be with the legal firm.

5 Tips for Managing Client Expectations as a Law Firm:

1. Setting Realistic Expectations from the Start

Law firms when they first meet their client desires to promise them the world in order to make them feel better and confident about their legal situation. This ultimately results in setting unrealistic expectations of desirable results by the client. Therefore, the first step to managing client expectations is to not make false promises and ensure that the firm’s relationship with the client is based on realistic expectations from the very beginning.

To make sure that realistic expectations are set from the beginning, start every client relationship by having a detailed and written engagement letter that outlines all the requisite details like; fees, scope of work, deadlines, etc. It is also very important to have an honest and open discussion about the possible outcomes and drawbacks of the client’s case during the initial client consultation. By creating and conveying realistic exceptions from the beginning, law firms can avoid future problems and eliminate misunderstandings and disappointments on the part of the client.

2. Open and Transparent Communication

In this fast-paced world, every law firm is busy and is constantly juggling its workload. However, it is crucial for a firm to make every client feel important, by encouraging them to share their concerns. It is the responsibility of the firm to maintain good communication with their clients.

Effective client expectation management requires fostering open and transparent communication channels. A firm can ensure this by frequent and proactive communications with the client which entails tasks like keeping the client informed of any development/ progress in their case and being accessible and responsive to their queries and concerns. Being transparent and having open channels of communication better serves the client by boosting their confidence, timely addressing their needs, and building trust and rapport which results in the ultimate achievement of client satisfaction.

3. Educating Clients about the Legal Process

The legal process is difficult to comprehend and can be quite overwhelming for a layman to understand, causing a whole lot of confusion and misplaced expectations. This is where the firm needs to step in and make the process as simple as possible by providing all the relevant information in an understandable manner. Educating the client can be simplified by providing streamlined step-by-step guidance into the available legal remedies, potential outcomes, and their standing in the legal scenario. 

Educating the client about the legal procedure relevant to their case is necessary to ensure that the client knows what to expect and what not to do. This also contributes to increased trust and better communication between the firm and the client thereby leading to a good and long legal relationship between the client and the firm.

4. Managing Timelines and Deadlines

To improve client satisfaction it is also important to manage their expectations, especially regarding the time it takes to achieve their desired legal resolutions. By establishing open communication and making the client aware of the legal process, the firm can help establish realistic timelines. Providing various legal alternatives available to the client with their estimated durations can make sure that the client chooses the most suitable method of dispute resolution which meets their expectations. 

Law firms while setting out the expectations for their clients shall also endeavour to create a realistic and achievable plan with a well laid out timeline that is acceptable to the client. Then by reviewing the details with the client, firms can ensure that they are on the same page as the client.

5. Seeking Feedback and Making Improvements

The relationship between the clients and their attorneys should be reciprocal in nature. Seeking feedback from clients shows them that the firm values their opinions. Thus, a law firm must ask its clients for their opinions with respect to the firm’s service, communication, solutions, and overall satisfaction. This allows the firm to introspect and identify the areas of improvement. Seeking feedback and making requisite improvements helps in promoting long-term relationships with clients and building an untainted reputation. 

Conclusion

Managing client expectations is the key to a law firm’s road to success. And the journey towards managing client expectations begins with setting up realistic and achievable expectations. Once a firm succeeds in setting up achievable expectations through thorough discussions and transparency, it becomes better equipped to manage overall client expectations, leading to increased client retention, loyalty and goodwill. By ensuring open and transparent communication channels, timely delivery of services, frequent feedback and constant evolution, a firm can enjoy unparalleled success in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does client expectation mean?

Client expectation can imply the client’s presumption and belief with respect to their relationship with a legal firm and the services being provided by it. A client may expect the firm to meet deadlines, achieve favourable outcomes, provide sound legal advice, etc.

How to manage client expectations and set boundaries?

A legal firm can manage client expectations and set boundaries by setting up realistic expectations from the beginning and having open and transparent communication with the client. When the client is kept in the loop and well-informed chances of confusion are removed and the client is well aware of what to reasonably expect.

What does managing client expectation means?

Managing client expectations means providing the clients with a reasonable and realistic assessment of their legal scenario. It entails explaining the scope of the firm’s relationship with them including; what all services are being offered to them and to what extent.

How can technology help in meeting the client expectations in a legal firm?

In today’s day and age clients want their attorney to have both the technical and the technology know-how. Using technology can help meet client expectations by providing increased security, better communication channels and accessibility, and easier payment methods. All of this leads to greater efficiency and results in client satisfaction.

Why is it important to manage client expectations?

Clients can be demanding and can sometimes have unreasonable expectations. These unfulfilled expectations, even if totally unreasonable, are a recipe for a dissatisfied client. Setting and managing client expectations ensures that the client is satisfied at each stage and in the long run, a happy client leads to the success of the firm.

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