Many doctors are not only evaluated on their medical knowledge, but they also evaluate their “being in bed” when interacting with patients. The bedside approach is usually defined as the way physicians speak and contact patients, including how they decipher bad news, how to inform patients of medical problems, and other qualities. The legal profession is also a people-oriented field, and lawyers often need to interact with clients in a cordial and understanding way during the process of representation. However, many lawyers can work at the bedside, not only focusing on their legal arguments, but also on interaction with representatives.
Many times in my career I have seen lawyers behave too much like a lawyer when interacting with clients, spreading bad news, and reassuring people who may face legal issues. Sometimes lawyers want to hedge their statements so that they are not liable when what they say is not true. Of course, in some cases, it is important to be clear about expectations so that lawyers do not mislead clients.
However, lawyers should not allow their own instincts to hinder clients from reassuring and actively interacting with the people they represent. For example, earlier in my career, I participated in a conference call with a client who had just received a request letter. The client was very frustrated with the whole situation and he kept asking if everything was okay. Customers do not want to be sued. Of course, litigation is a difficult task for everyone. As a result, the client must be seeking assurance from a lawyer. However, the other lawyer on the call has been hedged with “as far as I know” or “this is my understanding” for everything he says, so that he can leave some leeway in case he says something wrong. . The customer was not satisfied with these responses, and he kept asking if everything would be fine.
In the end, I stepped in and said that I was not sure what would happen in the future, but the client would get the best possible legal representation. I even said that I would assume that the client has all kinds of concerns about his legal issues so that the client can live his own life without having to think about what will happen next. The client was happy that I spoke to him like a considerate person rather than a lawyer who was mainly concerned with hiding his ass. This helped to improve the agent and my contact with the client.
Another way a lawyer can work at the bedside is to deal with clients. Lawyers often use technical terms when talking to clients and other people involved in legal matters. Sometimes, this legal term is used because it is easier for lawyers to express ideas in these words. At other times, lawyers may wish to demonstrate their experience by using artistic jargon related to the legal issues they are involved in. However, people without a legal background may not like to use difficult words.
At the beginning of my legal career, I was asked to sign an in-state subpoena related to an out-of-state lawsuit. I had to talk to my client about the service process of intrastate subpoenas related to out-of-state affairs, and I have been citing these documents because subpoenas can cause tetanus and subpoenas. The client was confused by my use of such terms, and she asked me to talk to her in a more understandable language. Because of this experience, I never use unnecessary technical terms when I talk to the client again, and I make sure to only talk about the case in layman terms.
Lawyers can also improve their bedside approach by connecting with clients in more meaningful ways. Lawyers often see themselves as only transactional relationships with clients, and do not want to do their best to establish deeper connections with others. However, if there is a meaningful personal connection between the client and the lawyer, they are more likely to recommend a company to their friends and conduct repeat business.
For example, after a major victory, I always try to have a victory lunch with my clients. This occasion not only celebrates the victory, but also ensures that the client has a good memory of his lawyer and can contact the lawyer during the meal (rather than in the office or over the phone). In addition, when feasible, I will try to go to the customer to deliver the settlement payment instead of mailing a check. In this way, I can see them face to face and build a solid foundation for clients, hoping that they will keep these in mind when assessing their future needs for legal services. In addition, before the pandemic, I tried to meet with major customers regularly to discuss matters in person and establish deeper connections.
In short, when interacting with clients, legal professionals should not always act like lawyers. Sometimes, sympathizing with customers and adopting a good bedside attitude is important to serve customers and establish practice.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of… Rothman Law Firm, Is a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm.He is also the founder of Student Debt Diary, A website discussing how he paid off his student loans. You can contact Jordan via the following email: email@example.com.