When we think of bedside manners, we think of how doctors interact and communicate with their patients. A doctor with a bedside manner is a good communicator, while one without a bedside manner may appear uncaring or may be overly abrupt with patients. But lawyers need to have “bedside manners” also.
Lawyers, like doctors, are drawn to their profession to help people. But sometimes their “professionalism” gets in the way of relating to their clients on a human, emotional level. A lawyer without a good bedside manner will not have happy clients and happy clients are the types that make referrals.
Here are three attorney bedside manner tips I believe every lawyer should know and practice.
1)Listen. Sometimes lawyers, as experts in their field, will cut off a client who goes off on a tangent about something totally unrelated to anything pertinent to their case. But just hear them out. If you cut off or rush your clients, they may think you are not fully behind them or don’t care what they have to say or are feeling. Let them vent a little and blow off some steam, then redirect them to the issues at hand.
2) Return Phone Calls. The number one complaint clients have against lawyers is that they are unresponsive or unreachable. You should make it a habit to return all calls or respond to emails. Your client may be trying to communicate something important to you. Even if not, take a few minutes of your time to respond to your client. They will greatly appreciate it.
3) Involve Clients. A client will always want to know what is going on with his or her case. Take the time to explain where the case is at and what are the next steps in the legal process. Engage your clients. While you are the expert, run ideas off your clients and ask what they think. Make your clients feel like true active partners in their case.
Having a good bedside manner as a lawyer does not mean you need to be your client’s buddy or friend. It can mean telling them some hard truths about their case when the situation calls for it. A lawyer with a good beside manner is one who never forgets who he or she is working for; treats the client with respect at all times; and will try to make his client always feel he or she has hired the right lawyer in the first place!
On a pure pragmatic level, happy clients will equal more clients.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net