Other than the detailed and comprehensive Legal Project Management Letter that we discussed in detail in an earlier chapter, there are many natural opportunities for a lawyer to update a client. For clients for whom we handle multiple matters, we provide a free, weekly or monthly status report on all cases. But below I share some less intuitive examples of opportunities for client communication.
Recently, I was asked to compete with another law firm for a client account. One of the tasks that I had to do, in order to render the client an opinion as to the merits of its case, was to do Freedom of Information Law Requests at various New York City administrative agencies. Each request unearthed a ton of paper -- four reams of paper from one agency alone. On top of that, the client also sent me the hard copy of a closing binder that was another four reams of paper. My office, of course, scanned and coded all of the documents. And I went to work on it. I completed an analysis for the client, which annexed several key documents as exhibits; needles in the haystack of paper. I wanted the client to have access to ALL of the documents, which, after all, he had paid for. Therefore, I had my tech staff upload all of the documents onto a password-protected online platform that allows us to host large documents and share them with our clients.
For a moment, I thought wistfully - now the client will give access to all of this paper I amassed and organized to the competitor firm, and they will get the benefit of me having put all this information conveniently together in one spot. But there is never a downside to sharing information freely and conveniently. We live in an era where you do not get ahead by restricting access to important information. Rather, you get ahead by being a steward of information, and helping your client and all their advisors have easy access to it. Honestly, I have no idea if the client ever gave the other firm access, because he hired us.
Here is another story. I am often responsible for commencing new lawsuits, and I train and supervise a team of in-house New York State licensed process servers. These servers are equipped with (Global Positioning Satellite) GPS technology that records where they are when they serve papers. The process servers are also trained to take photographs of where they are when they serve process. With each attempt at process service, even if the attempt is unsuccessful, I send my clients a report on the attempt, a screen shot of the GPS confirmation that the server was where she said she would be, and pictures. Recently, I sent a client who was eagerly waiting for a litigation target to be served, a picture of the service target -- with the papers in his hand…the guy was not smiling! But the client undoubtedly enjoyed being a part of the process and understanding what and how we were advancing his goals.
Labels: Ch. 12 - Client Communication