LOMA : Articles
Rules to Managing Your 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
Unlike other "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
Email: 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.
RULE: . 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 call.
(Note: If you do not bill for return phone calls, this is not
necessary. You may not wish to put this in your procedures.)
RULE: The 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
RULE: Please inform us if you wish to be contacted by email
and how often you check and respond to your email.
Forwarding 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
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
RULE: 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
Phones: If 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.
RULE: Use 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
When 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
RULE: Your 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.
Security 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 confidential.
There will 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 future articles.
In the interim, here are
some sites that discuss issues related to WIFI security.
How WIFI Works
Complete Guide to WIFI Security
WIFI Security for small businesses from Hewlett Packard
I think 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