You can’t win them all (but let them know you tried)


It happens. You do everything for a client, bending over backward to serve him and get the results he wants. If those results aren’t forthcoming, however, or things don’t happen quickly enough, the client may blame you.

And fire you.

That’s what happened to an attorney who wrote and shared his tale of woe.

He had a client complain about “zero results”. He said the attorney did nothing for him, even though he had done everything that could be done.

The client said the attorney was wasting time to “rack up fees,” even though the client was paying an agreed upon flat fee.

“How do you make clients [understand and appreciate] what you’re doing for them?” the attorney asked.

In this client’s case, nothing. He’s a bad egg. Nothing but trouble since day one.

But while all clients want results, if those results aren’t forthcoming, or take too long to achieve, most clients appreciate their attorney’s efforts or their behalf, if they are made aware of it.

Job one is to make them aware of it.

At the beginning, you spell out everything that is about to happen. You tell them (orally and in writing), exactly what you will be doing, when, and why.

Why A instead of B? Why next month instead of immediately?

You tell them about possible delays, contingencies, and problems. You also tell them what you will do if and when those issues occur.

You tell them stories of clients who had successful outcomes despite delays, contingencies, and problems. You provide testimonials from clients who watched you shed blood, sweat, and tears for them and loved you for it, even if things didn’t turn out they want they wanted.

You send copies of everything, of course, and update them frequently. Weekly is not too often. Even if “nothing” happened, let them know that you’re still on the job.

You report everything you have done, everything the opposition has done, and what you plan to do next.

You bring them into your head so they can see and hear what you see and hear and understand why you do what you do.

And you get their okay every step of the way.

No, you don’t let them manage the case. You encourage them to provide feedback and ask questions and you show patience when they do.

Sounds like raising a child, doesn’t it? Yeah, that’s pretty much what it is.

The difference is that you can fire a client, and in this case, that’s exactly what you should do.

Client relations 101

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