Client Relations and Communication

Client communication (or lack of adequate client communication) represents a significant percentage of the total number of malpractice claims and ethical complaints received by insurers and the Board of Professional Responsibility. The following general procedures should be implemented in a law practice to avoid client communication problems.

Correspondence & Communication

The attorney should communicate with the client and document all aspects of case acceptance, declination and status to the client as follows:

• Use engagement letters and/or fee agreements for all new matters.
• Use non-engagement letters for all matters declined.
• Use file-closing letters for all matters.
• Copy client with all correspondence/documents relating to client matter.
• Confirm in writing substantive issues of case, the process required to handle the case, legal advice, choices, and other information that may be difficult for the client to understand or contrary to what the client expects or wants to hear.
• Respond within seven days if reciprocal communication is required.
• Return phone calls within 24 hours.
• Use client surveys to determine level of client satisfaction with services rendered.
• Client dis-satisfaction should be addressed immediately upon attorney’s notice of same. Develop standard procedures for handling client complaints.
• Send detailed client billing monthly - regardless of fee arrangement. Monthly detailed billing apprises the client of the work you are doing for them and the cost of the work to date.