As a lawyer, consultations with your clients are an everyday part of your job. You have to get used to approaching the clients from a certain standpoint, figuring out what their issue is and strategizing how you might solve it — all while talking to them in a way that gets them to trust you and encourages them to hire you. However, many lawyers run into problems when conducting their consultations, and are unsure what they are doing wrong.
As a consultant for lawyer’s problems, we have the solutions. These problem-solving tips can help you avoid the pitfalls that come with consultations, which can be all too easy to fall into, especially if you are dealing with a high-priority client and want to do what’s best for your firm. Here are some solutions you can work with:
1. Be sensitive to what your clients are telling you.
Sometimes the issue your clients come to you with is a deeply personal matter that has emotional, and not just monetary, significance. As such, you should always be sensitive to what your clients are saying; don’t ridicule them or berate them for the choices they have made, and just listen attentively and sympathetically. This will help put them at ease and will let you put your best foot forward during the consultation.
2. Don’t talk; listen.
You might feel a natural instinct to ask questions, especially as a trial lawyer; after all, that is your job. However, the consultation is not an interrogation, and you should hold off on pressing your clients for more details until they are done telling you their story. If you’re afraid you’ll forget, write your questions down on a notepad as you think of them.
3. Give your full attention to your clients.
Don’t take this time to check your email or answer phone calls — pay attention to what your client is telling you and make them feel like you are fully present in the consultation.
4. Don’t pretend you have all the answers.
The point of the initial consultation is not to solve your client’s case for them — it’s to fairly and accurately discern what is going on and how you may be able to help. Don’t tell your client you can magically make it go away — instead of making up answers to their questions, tell them that you honestly don’t know, but that you will find out.