LOMA : Articles
Rules to Manage Client Expectations
By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.
In last month's column, I
talked about the problems of client expectations in a 24-7 world. This
month, I want to actually give some suggestions on rules to manage your
client expectations. As always, there are exceptions and caveats. If you
have already allowed some clients to access your private space and time at
any time day or night, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to break
the habit. In some rare cases, it might even be critical to allow them
this type of access but not for all clients in all situations.
"administrative" rules and procedures, some clients may have to be treated
differently depending about their case or situation. Having given my
disclaimers, let's see if we can set some guidelines.
Many firms and many clients use email. You need to set parameters for the
use of email. This is necessary for confidentiality issues as well
quality of life issues.
The Yevics Law Firm uses email to correspond with clients. Some one from
the firm will respond to all emails within 24 hours. However, we may not
be able to answer your question within those 24 hours especially if it
requires some research. All emails will be billed the same as a phone
(Note: If you do not bill for return phone calls, this is not
necessary. You may not wish to put this in your procedures.)
Yevics Law Firm will NOT send any confidential information via email. We
suggest that clients not send any questions that may be sensitive or
confidential via email
Please inform us if you wish to be contacted by email and how often you
check and respond to your email.
Client Emails - I think that it might be a good idea to indicate that no
client emails will be forwarded to anyone outside the firm without
permission. Forwarding emails should not be allowed for many reasons most
notably because you do not know in whose mailbox it will land.
If you have
not heard or seen the tale of the two Boston lawyers whose emails were
circulated all over the globe, go to
www.boston.com and click on "Emailers get testy."
It is not the policy of the Yevics Law Firm to forward client emails
outside of the firm. If we feel that we need to forward information you
have sent us in an email, we will obtain permission.
you use your cell phone in the same way that you use your office phone,
then some of these rules may not apply. If you have an office phone, then
I think you should NOT put your cell phone on your card or give it out to
all clients. If your cell phone is your office phone, then you might want
to consider a separate personal phone.
of cell phones is now universal. We use our cell phones for business but
do not give out our cell phones except for emergencies. We check our
voice mail regularly and will make certain that our voice mail gives
detailed information about our schedule on a daily basis.
leaving a message, please let us know if we may call you at home after
regular business hours. We will make every effort to have someone contact
you at a time that is convenient for you. If your case or situation is
such that you need to reach us in an emergency, we will provide you with
an emergency number.
Emergencies: (This is where you will list those situations that you think
a client should contact you at home or at your cell phone.)
case or matter is very important to you and it is very important to our
firm as well. There may be times when you have an emergency and need to
contact us. If this applies to your case, we will give you our home/cell
phone numbers. The following can be considered emergencies which would
require you to call our home/cell phone.
Issues: Another concern with 24-7 communication which will most likely be
electronic is security. The more information we send into cyberspace, the
more we are coming to realize that much of it is not secure and
not be enough space in this article to discuss all the details of security
related to electronic and wireless technology. We will address that in
In the interim, here
are some sites that discuss issues related to WIFI security.
How WIFI Works
Complete Guide to WIFI
WIFI Security for small
businesses from Hewlett Packard
that we should all be using the technologies that are available to provide
our clients with outstanding service. However, we should be the ones who
are setting the rules to make certain that we can manage our time
effectively. We should not be using the technologies to work more but to