4 Ways Lawyers and Paralegals Can Keep Their Clients’ Trust

It can be hard for clients to entrust paralegals and lawyers with their lives, but treating the client with respect and keeping them informed can help solidify the relationship and keep their trust.

Show Proper Respect

Treat every client like they are your only client. Focus on them and their case exclusively when you are on the phone or when meeting with them. Lawyers and paralegals should be polite to clients and any clients of clients that they may have to deal with. They should learn how to pronounce names correctly and remember them when talking to your client or discussing their case with another lawyer, court representative, vendor or any other third party.

Confidentiality is a requirement of the profession, so let your client know you take this seriously. Lawyers and paralegals should never discuss your client’s situation with another person who is not professionally involved in the matter without their permission. To protect your client’s privacy and sensitive information, make sure all copies of important documents are shredded. Professionals, like those at Vital Records Control, know that shredding the correct documents is of utmost importance. After all, information in such a situation is incredibly sensitive.

Constant Communication

Communicate with your client on a continuing and regular basis and let them know what is going on with their case. Return all phone calls from the client, even if just to acknowledge that you received a voicemail. Paralegals can return most calls for the lawyer, but returning phone calls is a must if you want to gain and keep your client’s trust. Keep a record of phone calls to and from your client. Every time a lawyer or paralegal sends an email or letter regarding your client’s case, copy them on the email or send a copy of the letter to them. Also, send them a copy of correspondence you receive and make them aware of phone calls you take or make regarding their situation.

Provide Evidence of Accountability

Handle your client’s money with kid gloves. Again, this is a legal requirement, but it bears repeating. Deposit your client’s funds in your company trust account and never borrow from a client’s funds. You can make sure they are aware of this by documenting all payment or disbursements that come out of their account. As soon as you receive a check from your client or third party, make a photocopy of it for the file and handle it without delay as a deposit or otherwise. Don’t let checks languish in the file unless they are not being deposited for a specific reason.

Keep careful track of attorney and paralegal billing and send the client a regular statement that shows what they are being charged for and what funds have gone into and out of their account.

Spell Out Your Relationship

At the beginning of your relationship with the client, put your agreement down in writing in the form of a representation agreement. State clearly what you are agreeing to do and what scenario might require a new representation agreement and retainer, if applicable. For instance, if you are representing him or her in a lawsuit but would require an additional retainer for a potential appeal, make sure this is clear. If they are paying a retainer or you are taking a percentage of a settlement, make sure they know what outside costs they would be responsible for, such as medical records, court reporters for depositions, private investigators or mediators. Make sure your client signs the agreement and has a copy.

For paralegals, be transparent with your client. Let them know you have their best interests in mind and keep them aware of what you are doing to help reach a beneficial resolution to their case. Let the client know what you as a paralegal will be doing in their case and how you will be assisting them throughout the life of the case. 

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