Dealing with clients can be one of the most challenging aspects of legal practice. Some clients can be patient and appreciative of your work, whilst others can be very hard to satisfy, demanding, stressful and upsetting. Clients may even not pay their fees, complain to the Law Society or sue for negligence if they feel that they have been treated unfairly.
As a Legal Secretary, part of your job is to make sure that your firm’s clients feel looked after and that they are receiving a good service. There are many different types of clients whom you will come across in your career. Here are a few tips which can help you deal with them.
Understand your role
You will be corresponding and communicating on behalf of the firm with various clients and getting to know their different situations. Communication will either be by email, letter, over the telephone or in person. Remember that although you have a responsibility to provide information and take details, it is the responsibility of the Solicitor to advise their clients on the different courses of legal action and help them to understand their choices. Any problems which arise through this must be dealt with by the Solicitor; however, you can play a part in making sure the client knows that the issue is being addressed in a timely manner.
Be calm, patient and clear
With any communication, stay professional and calm at all times, even when situations may be stressful. Explain to the client exactly what is going on and how you can help them within your capacity. Empathise with them and listen patiently to anything they feel is a problem. Support them as much as possible so that they feel looked after and valued. This will make all the difference in how they continue to react.
Understand unrealistic expectations
It is important to realise that some clients’ expectations are beyond what is capable. Difficult clients can have very high expectations about service, time to conclude, results and cost. Being honest and transparent with clients at all times will eliminate any problems at a later stage. As mentioned before though, always remain professional and calm when providing information to clients, even if you know they are being unreasonable.
Lastly, create a record of all telephone conversations, letters, emails and face-to-face meetings with clients, making sure that you document the dates. This will assist you in any misunderstandings or disagreements, as you will know exactly what has been discussed and arranged; you will always have a record to refer back to when providing evidence to a client.
Legal Secretaries are an integral part of a team of legal professionals. Your role can be very rewarding by learning how to deal with a diversity of clients and doing the best you can for your firm.