February 22, 2017 Articles

10 Tips for Maintaining Effective Boundaries with Clients: A Customer Service Approach

By Sherlyn Selassie

The practice of law can quite often expose very sensitive details of a client's life to the advocate. Unfortunately, this type of intimate disclosure can have the effect of encouraging false client expectations that the attorney is a friend. Conversely, the high stakes of the client's legal controversy may lead the client to seek a scapegoat—blaming the attorney for any undesirable outcomes in the case. At best, the attorney should seek a healthy balance that creates a mutually beneficial relationship with the client that encourages full disclosure and mutual accountability.

Like those who provide world-class customer service, attorneys are professional problem solvers. We naturally seek to find legal solutions to our clients' needs. Yet, unlike some other professional fiduciaries—doctors, for example—attorneys are bound both by our duty to the client and as officers of the court. Here are a few customer-service-based considerations for maintaining professional boundaries, upholding your ethical responsibilities, and keeping clients focused and accountable for their outcomes.

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