Legal Trends – 2019 ABA TECHSHOW

Curious about legal trends? Here are some interesting statistics and takeaways discussed at the 2019 ABA TECHSHOW:

When rating lawyers, people complain more about customer service issues than the cost of legal services.

When selecting a lawyer, clients value guidance, certainty, and clarity.

When assessing the emotional state of clients, lawyers chronically underestimate feelings of confusion, disbelief, frustration, and urgency.

Lawyers and clients are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to communication:

    • The majority of lawyers expect clients to send an email or visit the office in person when asking to schedule an appointment. In reality, clients shun both approaches and prefer overwhelmingly to call.
    • 70% of clients want to meet in person when sharing all the details or facts of a situation. 18% are willing to meet by phone. Similarly, clients want to hear lawyers explain the legal aspects of their case in person (55%) or by phone (23%) not by email or other means.
    • For getting quick questions answered, 46% of clients prefer the phone, 29% prefer email.
    • Lawyers strongly prefer to call with status updates (64%), but clients are split between phone (37%) and email (35%) in their preference.
    • Signing, viewing, or delivering documents? 64% of clients prefer to do this in person. 20% are okay with email. Interestingly, 35% of lawyers prefer to review documents with clients by phone – only 5% of clients preferred this method.
    • Websites and client portals only factored significantly into client preferences in two areas: checking the hours a lawyer is spending on a case (26% of clients) and making payments (31% of clients).

Key Takeaways

  1. Solicit feedback from clients.
  2. Consider using client surveys that measure your “net promoter” or client loyalty score. Survey Monkey is one example.
  3. Focus on in-person moments with clients and minimize interruptions.
  4. When deciding whether to call, email, or meet in person, put the client first. For the most part, clients want to talk – not read messages or correspondence.

For more information and a link to the complete legal trends report, see my story on Wakelet.

All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis

Thanking Clients Should Be Part of Your Closing Ritual

When was the last time you thanked clients for their business?  Asked for their feedback?  Welcomed their referrals?  Invited them to call you with questions or concerns in other areas of your practice?

All of this can and should be part of your file closing ritual. The work may be done, but your client relationship doesn’t have to be.

Your closing letter should cover the essentials, show appreciation, and cross-market your services

  • Inform the client that work is now complete and your representation is over
  • Return original client documents
  • Establish responsibility for current or future tasks
  • Advise the client of your file retention and retrieval policies
  • Answer final questions
  • Thank the client for allowing you to be of service
  • Invite the client to subscribe to your blog, YouTube channel, or social media posts
  • Educate the client about your other areas of practice
  • Let the client know you welcome referrals (see below)
  • Ask the client for his or her feedback (see below)

Send out surveys

A well-designed client survey will give you insight about what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. Increase your chances of getting a timely response by delivering the survey in a format suited to the particular client: paper, fillable PDF, or online via Survey Monkey or a similar service. For a side-by-side comparison of online survey tools, see The Best Online Survey Tools of 2016 from PC Magazine.

Sample Survey Language

The ABC Law Firm is committed to providing high quality service to all of our clients.  To help us achieve that goal, we would like your feedback regarding our services.  Please let us know how we are doing by completing the survey below.  

New to the process?

If you’ve never done a client survey before, spend some time doing a little research. Here’s a great post by Sterling Miller with his patented “ten things” to consider when creating, distributing, and analyzing a client survey.

Like to see a survey in action? Check out this example. Still not clear on what you should ask in your survey? Here is a list of 27 questions to include from Lawyers Mutual. Sample client surveys are also available on the PLF Website.  From the home page, select Practice Management > Forms > Client Relations.

Invite clients back and welcome referrals

If you perceive this as “trolling” for work, I hope you change your mind.  Letting clients know about your other areas of practice or inviting their referrals is perfectly professional:

As you may know, ABC Law Firm provides business, real estate, and land use services to a wide variety of clients.  If you know of anyone in need of legal services, I hope you will keep us in mind. 

Again, I thank you for your business and appreciate the opportunity to work with you.  If I can be of any assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to call me at (phone number). 

Automate first, then personalize

Client closing letters are “one more thing to do” in a busy practice.  I get it.  But don’t let them slide: your clients need the information and you need the protection that written disengagement letters offer.

  • Make the process easier by creating forms or templates.
  • If you practice in an area where your clients often have numerous tasks to perform, consider moving those items to an attached checklist.  It will make your letter shorter and the process easier for the client to follow.
  • Start using a file closing checklist. It will remind you to send a closing letter and take you through all the other details that must be tended to when a client file is closed. You can find a sample on the PLF Website.  From the home page, select Practice Management > Forms > File Management.
  • When you are ready to close a file, bring up your boilerplate. Modify it in a two-step process. First, change the form as needed to fit the case. Second, and more critical to your relationship, take the time to personalize your parting words to the client.

Find time to send personalized closing letters by delegating routine file closing tasks to staff, such as reviewing the file for documents that should be added to the firm’s template directories, adding additional names from the file to your conflict system, or entering the file in your closed file inventory.

Make thanking clients part of your everyday

Small gestures can make a big difference in client relationships.  Don’t wait until it’s all over to say “thank you.”   Express appreciation often: after visiting a client’s office or facility, for any kindness the client shows, in your holiday greeting, as part of your open house invitation, or in recognition of a long-standing relationship.  Remember: getting and keeping good clients is substantially easier than courting new ones.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017