What Have You Done for Me Lately: Client Homework is the Great (Effort) Equalizer

Most lawyers would tell you that the attorney-client relationship can be a pretty one-sided equation.  Lawyers do a lot for the benefit of clients.  Clients, on the other hand — well . . . they’re relying on lawyers to do the things for them.

Part of this, of course, is that attorneys have duties to clients; but, it’s also that lawyers set up these relationships like this.  Attorneys, when trying to get the work in the first place, work very hard to tell clients all about what they’ll do for them.  As the relationship continues forward, that how it gets structured: lawyer performs work, client pays for work.

Of course, the attorney-client relationship is better when the lawyer and the client work together.  Like when the client keeps the lawyer informed of what is happening in their life, that is relevant to the case.  Or, when the attorney doesn’t have to ask multiple times for items she needs.  Or even when semi-regular check-in calls become fruitful.

To craft that sort of relationship, it helps to discuss with clients early on about the two-way nature of the street, with respect to the attorney-client engagement.  So, talk to your clients about how you can work together.  And, don’t be afraid to give them things to do: Ask them to collect a set of documents.  Provide you some other information.  Assist in their own cause.

Teachers have been keeping students honest with homework for centuries.  Lawyers can use the same trick.

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If you need to learn to set better expectations with clients, we can help.

The Wyoming State Bar offers FREE law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.

To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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