What to give new clients when they sign up


I hired an attorney recently. After I signed the retainer agreement, he gave me a copy of the agreement and my check. Nothing else. Nor has he sent me anything in the mail or email in the several weeks since.

No letters, no phone calls, no information.

It’s true, nothing has happened yet that would require an update. Nevertheless, not sending me anything or communicating with me in any way is a big mistake.

Attorneys need to give new clients as much information as possible, and stay in touch with them as often as possible:

  • To thank them for choosing you instead of any other lawyer
  • To educate them on what you will be doing and how the client can help you do a better job for them
  • To inoculate the client from doing or saying anything that could harm them
  • To clarify and commemorate what you told the client and what the client told you
  • To give them something to show their spouse or partner that explains what you are doing and why it is necessary
  • To show clients you are organized and experienced and that they can trust you to stay on top of their matter
  • To ensure the client knows what will be happening, and when, so they don’t expect too much, too soon
  • To let the client know that even though they haven’t heard from you, you are working on their case
  • To reduce the client’s anxiety–about their case and about working with a lawyer
  • To add value to the transaction and exceed the client’s expectations; to give them a “wow” experience
  • To clarify billing and payment requirements so there are no misunderstandings or unpleasant surprises
  • To set the stage for cross-sales and referrals by educating the client about other services your firm offers

Every law firm should send new clients home with as much information as possible. Create a simple “new client kit” and supplement this with regularly scheduled letters and phone calls. Let them know what you are doing for them, even if what you are doing is waiting for something from them or from another party.

Many attorneys do this but too many don’t. How about you? What do you send your new clients and how has this helped your practice?


What to put in your new client welcome letter


There are many benefits to sending your new clients a "welcome" letter.

  • It allows you express appreciation by saying "thank you"
  • It shows that you are organized, which reduces anxiety and inspires confidence
  • It lets you assure clients of your commitment to helping them achieve their desired outcome
  • It lets you tell them what to expect, avoiding surprises and allowing you to deliver more than they expect
  • It orients them to office procedures (hours, whom to call, where to park, etc.), reducing confusion
  • It allows you to encourage the client to ask questions or express concerns
  • It can inform the client about your other practice areas (cross-selling)
  • It can let them know that you appreciate referrals
  • It let’s them know more about you, adding to your developing relationship

Your welcome letter should make the new client feel truly welcome, appreciated, and empowered. It should calm their fears, inspire their confidence, and innoculate them against negative consequences. They should conclude, upon reading it, that they absolutely made the right decision in choosing you as their attorney.

Welcome letters should be signed with an original signature, not a photocopy, or worse, left blank. Add a personal note, handwritten at the end of the letter, adding a comment about the client’s situation, family, or business, or an additional word of encouragement. Show the client that you took the time to personally ackowledge them, rather than asking your secretary to send out a form letter.

For a unique twist, consider an "audio letter". Simply record your welcome message and burn it onto a CD. You can add audio greetings from your partners and staff, too. If you really want to go crazy, you could record a video welcome letter onto a DVD. Take the client on a video tour of your office, introduce them to staff, show them your library, and so on. You should do this with them in person, of course, but this is nice added touch.

Is your welcome letter doing everything it could? If not, take the time to make it better. You won’t get another chance to make a first impression.


What to put in a thank you letter


Q: What are the main points to get across in a thank you letter to a client? Is it appropriate to add that I’m working to build my practice and referrals are appreciated?

A: It’s not wrong to mention referrals in a thank you letter, but I think it’s better when a ‘thank you’ is just that and nothing more. Let the client know that you appreciate him or her and just wanted to say so. It will mean more to them that way, don’t you think?

I also recommend that the ‘letter’ be a ‘note’ — hand written on note cards. It’s more personal that way and people appreciate that you took the time to write them a personal note. There’s less room on a thank you card, too, so you can be done with just a few sentences, whereas your letterhead has a lot of space to fill.

The note should say:

1. Thank you; I appreciate you; I am glad to know you
2. Reference something personal about them or their case
3. Call me if you have questions about anything
4. Thanks again

Sign the note, "Sincerely," or "Warmly," followed by your signature.

That’s not the only way to write a thank you, but it works. In just three or four lines, you show the client that he is not just a name on a file to you, you really do appreciate him.

Hand written notes are an extremely potent form of communication for another reason: nobody sends them. So when you do, you will really stand out in the mind of the recipient. You didn’t send a form letter, you didn’t email, you took some of your precious time to pen a personal note and put a stamp on it.

One attorney started doing this and told me his secretary made him stop. Apparently, they were getting so many calls to say "thank you" for his "thank you," she didn’t have time to do her work. But it was a nice problem to have (and they didn’t stop) because they also got a lot of referrals.

Try it, and watch what happens.