DL: How do you manage the workload with engaging a client and earning their trust?
SR: First, the one thing I have learned practicing for over 10 years is that you need a good team of people around you to manage everything. The legal work is just part of managing a client. There are administrative tasks, billing, and managing the relationship that also require significant time. It is important to have a good team of people to help with each of these tasks. You, for example, are a key member of my team and I trust you with doing the legal work, engaging with the client, and building the relationship. We both share a legal assistant who is incredible in helping with the administrative workload that comes with our practice. Our accounting department has a designated person or two who we work with on billing issues. There are many people on our team who collectively allow us to serve our clients, and each person performs important tasks to help us meet the expectations of our clients. So, it takes a team approach and effort to manage the workload.
I think for us to earn the trust of our clients, we have to be able to understand their industry and what issues can and do arise. If we are able to put our feet in their shoes for even just a moment, I think we can better understand the issues they face. Clients often view us as part of their team, and so we have to be able to relate to them and their circumstances.
It is critical for us to communicate clearly and timely with our clients. Clients look to us to either solve or manage problems. They need answers from us, and in today’s technological world, we are expected to respond much sooner than when I first started practicing law. If we are responsive, then clients understand they can reach us at any moment and that we are available.
Plus, we are hired to give answers. I have worked with some lawyers who add countless disclaimers before or after giving an opinion. Most clients already know the disclaimers; they just want your honest opinion so they can make the ultimate decision. If a client knows you will give an honest opinion and your rationale for that opinion, then a client will trust you.
Ultimately, though, there is no substitute for doing quality work. You can do a lot of things really well, but if you don’t provide quality work, then clients will not trust you.