Hamptons Legal – The Daily Detail

News, Service & Small Practice Management

Educating the New Litigation Client

Posted by pbsweeney on May 2, 2007

Often, one of the most challenging jobs of any attorney is to educate a new litigation client in being a client of a law firm. Many clients appear for the first time as the result of crisis situation for which they need assistance, and in many cases are hiring an attorney for the first time in their lives. Clients come in completely unaware of the extent of their roll in their own matter, how fees work, how a case is managed, and what are reasonable expectations. Clarity on these issues is very important not only to overall success, but also as it relates to retaining that client for the future.

Spending time on these issues during an initial consultation and during regular follow up thereafter, promotes a sense of partnership for the road ahead. The better your fundamental work here, the easier it will be to create movement in the case through client cooperation, and the happier your client will be even if the inevitable outcome is not in their favor.

The first thing a client needs during an initial consultation once rapport and confidence have been established, is fee sensitizing, as we like to call it. Litigation is expensive in a way that many clients cannot seem to fathom. It makes no sense to them that a 25K rip off will likely cost them the same amount of money to recover, and is simply not worth it. There is little understanding that 50K is a starting point for serious work, so that often even an exaggeration on the costs is a better approach than talking minimal numbers. If this realistic communication about fees is not adequately established, there’s really no point in taking this client on. You’ll only end up spending valuable billable time sorting it out later, or lose the client in the long term, neither of which helps to grow a practice.

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