Attorneys follow very specific rules of conduct, which have been established by the American Bar Association, and these rules also affect our ability to establish trust with our clients. But the law is personal, and here’s why: We stay with our clients for months and in some cases years, deliberating over the most intimate details of the case. So, it’s imperative we develop a trusting relationship with them and even with others involved. Below are a few observations I’ve made on establishing personal relationships. These can also transcend over to other industries.
• Begin by listening and learning your client’s expectations and their thoughts on establishing a professional relationship. A client-vendor relationship is built upon mutual trust, where both parties are open about what they need from the relationship, and are flexible and willing to change their way of doing things, if needed.
• Define your working relationship. It is imperative that you and your clients both understand what the relationship will entail, the expectations, and how the case strategy will be developed and what that involves.
• Show a genuine interest in your client, in what they do, and how they came to seek your services.
• Ask questions, including seeking feedback. We all can and should learn from our clients. Casework is very complex and requires attention to many details. Having open and frank discussions will help with information exchange and establishing trust.
• Communicate clearly and often. Discuss and agree on what the best means of communication will be for both of you. Communication increases trust. With clear and consistent communication, clients will feel less fearful and more like a participant in the entire process.
column by MIKE MARTIN
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida and has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, The Crestfallen Rose.