The first legal consultation you have with a potential client, known as intake, is an important first step in the relationship you will forge with that person. It is the basis for a healthy attorney-client relationship. Since intake is so crucial, it is important to avoid the following pitfalls that can befall even the best of attorneys.Being Insensitive
Usually, when a potential client visits a lawyer, it is not a happy occasion. Often people seek out legal help because they are in legal trouble or they need help with a major problem. These problems can be quite personal and embarrassing, such as overwhelming debt or a drunk driving incident. These issues can often produce strong emotions such as fear, guilt, and a sense of failure. Therefore, attorneys must show compassion and understanding in order to build a sense of trust. Being insensitive to the emotions a client will make it difficult to foster a healthy relationship that will allow you to help your client in the best way possible.Interrogating your Clients
A good lawyer has strong interrogation skills, as it is an essential component of any trial. However, a great lawyer knows when to turn those skills off. The client intake consultation provides your clients with the opportunity to tell their stories in the way they need to with no judgments. Rather than asking pointed questions, keep them open-ended and allow your clients to provide the information freely rather than putting them on the defensive.Interrupting
Of course, as a lawyer, you want to ask your clients lots of questions. But, avoid this temptation during the intake consultation. Give your clients time to tell their stories without interruption. This small gesture will indicate to your clients that you care about what they are saying.Getting Distracted
Do not allow yourself to be distracted during the intake consultation. This is not the time to take incoming calls or to check your emails. Those tasks can be taken care of at another time. If you tend to them during an intake, it sends the message that there are issues that are more important than your client. No one wants to be made to feel like a second fiddle, especially during a vulnerable time.Pretending to know answers
A client will have many questions during an intake consultation. You will not know the answers to all of them. It is perfectly acceptable to say you do not know, but will do research and find out. It is a far better response than making up an answer.
If you would like help improving your intake consultation techniques, contact Attorney Consultants, Inc. today. We can get you going down the right path.