Monday Practice Tip- Client Meetings

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  On Mondays we provide a practice tip for young attorneys.  Today, I want to discuss one-on-one meetings with clients.  Client meetings can occur for any number of reasons — to assess whether the client wants to retain your firm, for you to investigate a new case, to prepare for a deposition or other aspect of the case, etc.  It is important to conduct yourself appropriately at these meetings.

In an earlier post about Motion Calendar hearings, I tried to impress upon you that young attorneys are often too overwhelmed by these hearings, that you need to find a way to be prepared but also to somehow relax.  For client meetings, candidly, my advice is the exact opposite.  I think many attorneys do not take these meetings seriously enough! 

In the civil sector, most of your clients are highly successful, highly intelligent individuals.  They do not need us to succeed in life, but only on certain occasions because of our expertise.  Most of you are probably billed at anywhere from $150-$250/hr. for your time.  Think about that.  Aside from maybe your doctors, do you pay that much per hour for anyone?  With this in mind, here are some tips for successfully handling a client meeting:

1) Preparation is everything.  You need to be completely versed in the case you are working on, the client itself, and the issues you are there to discuss.  Today, most every significant organization has a website that discusses the company’s “mission statement” or otherwise describes their business.  The more you can do to show your client that you have taken the time to understand their business, the better.  Also, the more conversant you are in the facts of the case, the more your client will understand why they are paying so much for your time.  Remember, few people have the natural gift of public speaking.  The rest of us get by through preparation.  Nerves are revealed in those who are unprepared.

2) Be presentable.  This may seem obvious, but even if your office permits “business casual” attire, the general public associates attorneys with suits and ties.  The day of your client meeting is not the day to go with an unbuttoned collar, to experiment with some stubble, or to throw on your fish tie. 

3) Re-emphasize points made over e-mails or teleconference.  There is nothing like a face-to-face discussion.  No matter what the meeting is literally for, client meetings are always a good time to re-emphasize the goals of the case and to have your client look you in the eye when they make their decisions.  Your theme of the case should be emphasized in everything you do in a case, why should your client meeting be any different?

I hope these help you get more focused for your next sitdown with the client.  See you tomorrow!

Explore posts in the same categories: Practice Tips for Young Attorneys

3 Comments on “Monday Practice Tip- Client Meetings”

  1. K O'Malley Says:

    Another important point, probably should go under Preparation is prepare your office. You already talked about the importance of a clean office, but it is doubly important when you have a client coming in.

    A desk that is well organized, has the clients case documentation neatly organized and ready for the meeting says i am getting value for my money

    A cluttered desk with 15 or 20 other case files on it says “this guy is taking my money and he may think about me once in a while, but i am hardly his top priority”

    Also….

    If at all possible do not keep the client waiting
    Do NOT take phone calls during your client meeting
    Do NOT check email or do other unrelated items to the case on your computer.

    Heck you can (and should) do a whole blog post on email etiquette. Hint, Reply to All is NOT your friend

  2. K O'Malley Says:

    Another good topic might be Social Media both in terms of how not to use it (I once interviewed a guy who had a myspace page full of questionable content, stories of misadventures and practical jokes he had played which were hard to forget when comparing him to other safer candidates)

    As well as ways to positively help your profile (this blog is a good example)


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