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Practice Management

Prioritizing Your Legal Client's Needs

Alexandria Andresen Lutz


  • Client priorities constantly shift based on individual and business needs and circumstances out of your client’s control. Using these steps will help you keep up with their ever-changing priorities.
Prioritizing Your Legal Client's Needs
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If you want to be valuable to your clients, you need to understand the priorities and unique challenges faced by each client. Just as change is the only constant in life, client priorities constantly shift based on individual and business needs and circumstances out of your client’s control. Clients seek attorneys that can provide practical advice on complex legal issues presented to the client in simple terms. Below is a list of steps to take to ensure that you understand and keep up with your client’s priorities, particularly when those priorities are frequently shapeshifting and reordering.

Define Expectations

While this is an obvious first step in any attorney-client relationship (or any relationship in life generally), it is a necessary one that we would be remiss not to state as an important first step. In addition to providing legal advice, what other expectations does your client have from your relationship? Attorneys should not assume what a client expects, wants, or needs. Even in what seem to be very clear cases, your client will need you to take certain actions to move specific client goals forward. Defining what those actions and goals are at the outset is key.

Identify Overall Priorities and Areas of Importance to the Client

Once expectations of the attorney and client are defined, lawyers should have their clients identify overall priorities and areas of importance. These will undoubtedly shapeshift over time, but a clear understanding of what your client cares most about at present will allow you to advise in the client’s universe rather than in a vacuum. When you understand the overall priorities of the client (even if some priorities are outside the scope of what you have been retained to do), you will be able to keep an eye out for any relevant updates to your client’s industry and advise from the perspective of your client’s priorities. Have conversations about your client’s big-picture priorities regularly, as they will be ever-changing.

Anticipate Questions and Challenges

Anticipate questions that your client may ask you based on their priorities at that moment. Even if your client does not ask a question you anticipate, bring it up, as this may be something your client has not yet contemplated. Also, if you can preempt challenges that may come up for your client and be prepared to discuss those with clear and practical recommendations, you will make yourself that much more indispensable to your client.