Client Service Minute: “Trading” Clients

By Pace Law | May 17, 2013

Client service tips from Paul Alisauskas – Pace Law FirmThis past week, in our Collingwood office, we made retainer arrangements with a new client. I was curious how she came to us so I asked the attending lawyer about it; turns out, our firm benefited from the most fundamental of client service failures:

The client had signed up with another significant personal injury firm. But, right away, she found her confidence in her original choice eroded; the firm showed virtually no interest in communicating with her. A number of months after the relationship was established, she still had not spoken to the lawyer handling her file, despite several efforts to do so. She had had several conversations with clerks at the firm, but found getting a return call to be frequently difficult. A number of voicemail messages went ignored.

That’s it; end of relationship.

There’s one thing better than learning from your own mistakes – learning from someone else’s.

The implication here is pretty basic: You won’t likely know you’ve laid the groundwork for a defection until your client has already signed up with another firm. The only “notice” the (former) lawyer is going to get is a direction to forward the file.

Do you think we are immune to this kind of defection? Of course not. The firm this client left is a good one with a solid reputation. This client seemingly just “fell off their radar”. There are two lessons here:

It can happen to a good firm with a solid reputation;
It will happen without any real warning.

To avoid a cycle of simply ‘trading’ clients between firms due to client service failings, I suggest you do a careful review of every file you are responsible for to determine whether there’s a festering (lack of) communication issue. If there is, make sure you do something about it. Otherwise, someone else might be sending you a direction to forward. There’s one thing better than learning from your own mistakes – learning from someone else’s.