Issue link: http://ailahub.aila.org/i/241747
Tips For Providing a Great Client Service
by Kristina Rost
he topic of providing great client service
has been, perhaps, one of the most vibrant
topics in the field of practice management.
There are many outstanding practitioners and
practices, and the theories behind the great practices
are as numerous as there are human personalities.
This article summarizes some of the most widely
identified tips for providing great client service.
No one would disagree that it starts with the basics,
your Letter of Engagement or Fee Agreement. Be
sure to have one and use it as your utility toolbox.
There are numerous reminders that you can include
in these initial agreements, such as notification(s)
regarding your actions in case of a H1-B quota
exhaustion, what happens when a client does not
cooperate, mechanism for reimbursing unearned
fees, etc. The Letter of Engagement, however, should
not be one-sided, it should also explain your terms of
representation and billing practices so that the client
clearly understands what to expect when working
with you. Avoid offering guarantees, unless it's a
guarantee you will return a call within 24 hours or
The next tier in building great service is adhering to
the basic principle of, well, providing high quality
legal service. In immigration practice, this includes
calendaring numerous and important deadlines,
being familiar with case details such as aged out
children, keeping clients updated, returning phone
calls (all-time favorite!), following up on case
progress, owning up to mistakes (no hiding!), and
of course, remaining competent—following the
developments in the law.
Interestingly, a perk of practicing (immigration) law
is understanding the human psychology. In addition
to being a lawyer, a successful practice will require
you to also be a "therapist". Emotional intelligence
can be developed, and if you are open to learning
how to "read" people, you will be amazed about
what your practice can teach you about human
behavior. By remaining an eager student of human
condition, you will find that with time, it becomes
easier and more enjoyable navigating the different
cultures and personalities. To start on this road, first,
you need to learn to leave your problems at home—
your clients should not be on the receiving end of
your frustration(s) that are caused by third parties
or outside circumstances. You should never snap at
your client! However, do not behave like a doormat
either; your actions, competence, demeanor and even
appearance must command respect. It is said that
sometimes female attorneys encounter difficulties
when working with male clients from the make-
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dominant cultures. For those women, remember
you are running your practice; you are a trained
professional and are as capable of providing the same
stellar legal guidance as your male colleagues. Thus,
you must find ways to command respect from your
clients, and if they don't, they should be referred out
elsewhere. Incurable damaged prospective clients will
ultimately lead to a broken, unhappy relationship.
Another widely popular tip on running a successful
practice is not taking cases that you are not
comfortable with. If you must, pair up with a more
experienced attorney or secure a mentor's assistance.
If you do decide to take on such a case, reveal to the
client your true standing. Clients appreciate honesty
and will respect you for your sense of responsibility.
Finally, compete on service, not on price—someone
will always be cheaper. Periodically ask for client
feedback (how are you doing vs. how you have done).
Set your fees as an indicator of your value and believe
in it, your value will reflect how you provide your
service. Be proud of what you do and how you do it.
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