A strong foundation of happy, loyal clients can help your law practice withstand economic downturns.
Build this foundation by focusing on basic ethical principles. That starts with the Four C’s of Client Care: Communication, Competence, Commitment and Confidentiality.
And in anxious times, the last thing you need is to be sued for malpractice or reported to your state bar for professional misconduct. Keep reading to learn more about the Four C’s.
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Four C’s of Client Care
Communication, Competence, Commitment and Confidentiality
Communication. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.4
A lawyer shall: (1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules; (2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished; (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter; (4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
Competence. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1
A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.
Commitment and Loyalty. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.7 Conflict of Interest: Current Clients
A lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:
(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or
(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer….
Confidentiality. ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6
A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted [by Rule 1.6].
Tips for Excellent and Ethical Client Service
- Keep your client informed. This is especially important in times of crisis. Make sure they know what’s happening in their case. Respond to their calls, texts and emails promptly. Give them copies of all important paperwork.
- Show empathy. Practice active listening. Be there when they need you.
- Use “scripts” for client calls and initial interviews. This will keep the consultation on track and avoid misunderstandings. Follow up crucial conversations with a letter confirming what you discussed.
- Screen for potential conflicts of interest. Clients want to know you are 100 percent on their side. In fact, surveys show that clients put a greater value on attorney loyalty than case outcome.
- Discuss fees and billing up front. Put your fee agreement in writing. Read and follow Rule 1.5 Fees.
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