Immigration Practice News

January 2014 (Vol. 5, No. 2)

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Tips For Providing a Great Client Service by Kristina Rost T 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 something similar. 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- MISS AN ISSUE? No Sweat. Check out AILA's archive. FOR MORE HELP ON CLIENT MANAGEMENT: Be sure to download AILA's Immigration Practice Toolbox. 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. FOLLOW AILA FOR THE LATEST ON IMMIGRATION! YOUTUBE, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, and LINKEDIN COPYRIGHT © 2014 AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE REPRINTED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER. SEND REPRINT REQUESTS TO PUBS@AILA.ORG www.aila.org 6

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