Keep Calm and Stay On Track: Tips To Keep Clients At Ease
Talking to a client who has been through an extremely stressful situation can be tough. You want to let them know that you’ll be there for them, but you also want to get down to business to give them the results they need.
Sometimes, if you let a client talk too long about their issues, it winds up being unproductive and costly for them. After all, you’re a lawyer, not a therapist. However, keeping clients at ease is a necessary function of your job. Here are some tips to help comfort a client and keep them at ease in their time of stress.
1. Listen, Respond, Relate
Keep the conversation quick and to the point. Listen to them and what they want to say, respond when appropriate, and make comments to keep them on track. Relate with them as much as possible to build trust.
When appropriate, feel free to mention the standard rate per their agreement fee. Many lawyers have found that by reminding the client that you are their hired lawyer they tend to keep the conversation short and to the point.
2. Communicate In Writing
Try to talk less on the phone and talk more via email or letters. Not only does this limit the amount of unnecessary information that doesn’t apply to their situation that they hired you for, but it also keeps a paper trail.
When emailing your clients, it is helpful to wait several hours before responding, unless it is an emergency. If a client just went through an overwhelming and stressful situation, they may email you with more information than you need. Emailing them back right away when it is not necessary can encourage them to continue sending unrelated information, or to rant over email. Give them some time to cool down before emailing back.
3. Keep It Professional
If you find that your client wants to talk more about personal problems that have nothing to do with legal issues, remind them of your role as their lawyer (NOT their therapist). Encourage them to seek solutions to their personal and emotional problems with a licensed professional. Let them know that you’ll be happy to have a meaningful conversation with them as soon as they’re ready to discuss legal issues, and legal issues only.
In the end, you’re more expensive than a therapist and you need to make sure that you’re giving them exactly what they’re paying you for.
4. Be Forceful
Don’t be afraid to demand attention if you have a particular client that has a hard time staying on track. While remaining professional and respectful, clearly set boundaries with your client. Depending on the rapport you’ve built, you can soften the mood after a tense interaction with a light joke.
5. Keep Calm & Emotionally Detached
The most important tip is to keep calm. Sometimes, when you listen to your client’s problems you start to feel guilty and bad for them and want to try to relate to them in some way. It’s human nature to want to comfort, but you are a paid professional. Remember that your client’s problems are their problems and your problems are your own problems.
As a San Diego Criminal Defense attorney, setting boundaries with upset clients can be tough, but as long as you keep calm and stay professional, you’ll be able to successfully work with any client and give them the legal service that they deserve.