Speaking Seriously about the Lawyer- Client Relationship – Abigail Somoye

Abigail Shomoye

The development and growth of a business or law firm is very key for so many reasons. One of the reasons is the fact that everyone (or almost everyone) who has a business or enterprise, would desire that they get known by people; that their services be requested for and also that they get paid for the services rendered. The latter part is very interesting because for what other reason, did you set up the business?  No business person wants to lose his/her clients or customers and no business person desires to be at a loss and as such efforts are made to ensure growth and development by constant communication with clients.

Having said that about businesses or enterprises, law firms are apparently not exempted from this. The owner (or principal partner) of a law firm desires that it grows, regardless of whether or not he thinks that the firm and workers are being the best at what they do. As a result of this desire, efforts are made to ensure that the law firm moves forward and does not remain stagnant or a crawling snail. Therefore, where there is little or no improvement, disappointment troops in and everyone including clients and employees get affected.

Although many partners or owners of law firms have this great desire that their firm grows and becomes very great, not many of them are willing and ready to make the sacrifices that will bring about this development. Many lawyers complain about the fact that they keep losing clients (which in turn affects the growth of the firm) and it is quite amazing that not many people have been able to figure out one of the major reasons for this.  Although there are many reasons why law firms lose their client, the issue of communication is one of the major reasons that the writer considers to be a problem.

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The loss of clients (or even a single client) is very bad for a law firm especially when the loss is as a result of some form of carelessness on the part of the firm. Therefore, there is a need for such to be avoided. In order for this to be avoided, lawyers need to be trained and well equipped on how to communicate with their clients.  Communication is very key and many great people can attest to this fact.  A quote which I love so much goes thus “If you want to keep a friend, ensure that you communicate with him or her” and I would like to say that “If you want to keep a client, ensure the existence of constant communication.”

Getting the brief is not all that matters and it is not all that should matter for a lawyer. In fact getting the brief is one out of the many stages in your relationship with your client. A lawyer must be willing and ready to take instructions per time from his client as regards the steps that you are about to take in relation to his matter. Although sometimes, it might be quite impossible to get across to a client, as often as you can, it is important to get the ‘go ahead’ of your client on certain actions that you intend to take in the matter.

Secondly, it is also very essential to inform your client and give detailed information to him/her about the progress of the case where it involves litigation; the progress of the application where it involves registration of a company or business name. This is important because apart from the fact that it gives the client an assurance that you are working on the case and taking his/her matter very serious, it also erases any form of distrust. Furthermore, as new events emerge (as regard the client’s matter), you must ensure that you have a good system which would enable you keep your client abreast of all or majority of the steps that you are taking or that you have taken in the matter.

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Clients are excited when you involve them in their business. I call it “their business” because the brief was given to you by that client and if that is absent, you would not be handling that matter as you are only the shoulder on which the matter leans. The lack of this excitement (i.e. being involved in their matter) could make your client seek for such somewhere else and when  this occurrence takes place, you have lost yet another client… and so in order to keep this excitement which means that you are keeping your client, communication with your client is key. Trust me, when you involve clients in the progress of their work being carried out by you, not only will they bring more briefs to you, your firm will be recommended by them to their friends and family members.

Conclusively, communication helps keep a client and could even bring more clients your way. The loss of a client could lead a law firm to be at a crawling position (i.e. no growth). Every law firm desires growth and development and as such communication with client cannot be overemphasized. After getting a brief, take every appropriate step to ensure that the client is kept abreast of all that is going on with the case/application.

Abigail  Somoye (abigailsomoye@gmail.com) is a graduate of law from the University of Sheffield UK.  


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