July 31, 2014

Beverly Michaelis: Offer a Free Legal Check-Up and Keep Clients Happy

When was the last time you personally contacted a former client to see how she or he was doing?

This year?  Last year?  Never?

As the kids head back to school, perhaps we should take a cue and revisit “Client Development 101.”

Here are the undisputed facts in evidence:

Make a concerted effort to reach out and contact former clients.  Pick up the phone or visit with the former client in person.  This can be a no-charge “I was thinking of you” check-in or a free legal check-up if the type of work you did for the client lends itself to periodic review.  The goal is to rebuild and refresh client relationships.

Texting or e-mailing is not my first choice for this type of follow-up, but you know your clients and I don’t.  Use the communication tool you know your client would prefer.  The whole idea here is to personalize the contact.  Therefore, do not fall into the trap of believing that mass e-mail marketing, e-zines, or holiday cards constitute keeping in touch with former clients.

Why make the effort?  Because no happy client is insignificant.

When I was in private practice, one of the best referral sources our firm ever had was a client with a modest slip-and-fall case.  Liability was clear, but damages were nominal – soft tissue injuries, only a few days missed from work, no significant medical specials.  We negotiated a decent settlement and the client was happy.

Ironically, I’m not sure we would have taken this client’s case a few years later.  The damages weren’t that great and we didn’t generate much in the way of fees.  Thankfully, we represented the right person at the right time.  Our client with the modest slip-and-fall case turned out to be one of our biggest cheerleaders.  He referred many clients to us over the years.

The moral of the story is pretty clear: keep in touch, keep it personal, keep clients happy.

© 2011 Beverly Michaelis

Beverly Michaelis received a J.D. from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College and is a member of the Oregon State Bar, Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and American Bar Association. With over 25 years’ experience in the legal field, Ms. Michaelis provides confidential practice management assistance to attorneys to reduce their risk of malpractice claims, enhance their enjoyment of practicing law, and improve their client relationships. She blogs at Oregon Law Practice Management, where this post originally appeared on August 29, 2011.

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