The Importance of Lawyer-Client Communication

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It is a vicious struggle managing client meetings, court appearances, depositions, and more. Add to that mix client communication via email, correspondence, and voice mail and you need to become a juggler in a three-ring circus.

The key to keeping clients happy is making sure they are well informed on the status of their case. Legal assistants and paralegals manage a good portion of the client relationship, but that cuts into their time working on cases.

One of the biggest complaints about lawyers is their failure to communicate with clients. Proper communication is the key to keeping existing clients happy and gaining more. The key to success is learning new communication methods that free your time and meet client needs.

Compliance With Model Rules 11 and 14

The Model Rules of Professional Conduct cover communication in Rule 14. The rule states an attorney must keep clients reasonably informed about the status of their case. They must also promptly comply with a client’s request for information.

Formal Opinion 500, entered October 6, 2021 by the American Bar Association, covers communication. This opinion states that communication is fundamental to the successful client-lawyer relationship.

The lawyer need to remedy communication issues. This may be through the use of an impartial interpreter or other assistive language technologies.

Technology software does not replace the exchange of information necessary for adequate representation. It is a valuable resource for the client when they need basic information. This includes court appearance dates or access to court documents.

Use of Email for Communication

You receive and exchange emails with your clients, other attorneys, and the court on a regular basis. The exchange raises concerns about possible violations of ABA Rule 1.6. This rule deals with the confidentiality of information.

By default, your email is not encrypted. That means the information you send or receive via email may be intercepted and read by anyone. ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 11-459 released in 2011 states lawyers need to warn clients about the risks of email communication.

There is always the possibility of information in an unencrypted email being snagged by an outsider. For that reason, the 2017 Formal Opinion 477 by the ABA advises that attorneys use a case-by-case analysis. The decision is whether unencrypted emails provide sufficient protection to your client.

Security is achieved through encrypted email or a law firm client portal. Legal software portals such as Sebrevis provide protection of legal data and allow you to communicate in a secure manner.

Text Messaging Pros and Cons

During the 2020 pandemic, many attorneys began communicating with clients via text message. This was a plus for both the lawyer and the client. It is a quick way of making contact and responding to messages at the recipient’s convenience.

Text messaging makes attorneys available outside their normal office hours. The snippets of communication allow clients to view their attorneys as more reachable. This improves attorney-client communication and relationships.

On the downside, text messaging done through personal cell phones is subject to security breaches. It also cuts down on the “down” time an attorney has. Clients do not pay attention to office hours and call or text any time of the day or night convenient for them.

In the era of instant gratification, clients do not understand you are not always available to answer immediately. You may be in court or in the middle of a deposition, but clients become irritated when you do not immediately respond. When this happens your legal assistant receives a call saying “I sent a text message 30 minutes ago and he hasn’t answered.”

Text messaging with clients has its benefits, but use it with caution. Directing your client to a lawyer-client software portal is a safer way to communicate. The portal may provide the answers they need, preventing you from being blasted awake at 2 AM with a message notification.

Communication Competence and Client Satisfaction

A study conducted in 1993 by ScholarWorks covers attorney communication competence. The research found client satisfaction is dependent on an attorney’s communication skills. The article stresses communication competence requiring continuous change and adapting to the environment (pg. 25).

The article goes on to explain the aspect of competent communication being function. The measurement of an attorney’s competent communication is based on the outcome, rather than the actual message. (pg. 26). To increase success in positive attorney/client relationships the attorney must increase their communication competence (pg. 29).

While the study is 28 years old, the basis of it remains the same. As a lawyer, you need to use modern communication strategies that conform with the technologies of today.

Today’s clients have lived or grown up in a technologically advanced world. They seek their answers online and want immediate answers to their questions. One of the best ways to communicate with your clients is through business practices that utilize the best legal tools

One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by using the Sibrevis communication platform. This real-time client communication portal allows you or your legal staff to upload relevant court documents. This includes scheduling details, notes, and other pertinent information into the portal.

Your client is able to log in and review their case details. This allows them to receive answers to questions immediately at a time most convenient for them. It also saves your paralegal and you time by not dealing with time-consuming phone calls and emails.

Take the Next Step in Client Communication

Lessen the time you and your staff spend on client communication by using a Sibrevis real-time legal communication portal. By uploading relevant information to the portal, you give clients the ability to log in and access their information at any time of the day or night.

Our pricing allows you to give us a try with a three-case trial for only $29.99 per month. We offer three additional pricing options depending on the number of cases you anticipate needing. You may also contact our sales team regarding a contract for an unlimited number of cases.

Give us a try today to see how easy it is to free up time for you and your legal staff.