Managing Client’s Expectations
Many solicitors talk to me about managing their client’s expectations and sometimes how difficult this can be.
As a Family Consultant I understand that expectations can only be managed when everyone involved in the process has clear, effective communication and are aware of the rules, boundaries and consequences that accrue if those parameters are not adhered to.
It is paramount when working with emotionally charged clients, many of whom feel traumatised by the journey they are embarking upon, that from the first meeting expectations-not only of legal advice and procedure, but how the meetings are to be held-are outlined and agreed to.
I work with legal professionals from all over the U.K. and am often surprised that whilst the former are often well managed, the latter is less so.
During a regular meeting with the collaborative solicitors in Shropshire where my private practice is based, we discussed the difficulties they often encountered during both one-to-one and ‘round table’ meetings with clients and colleagues.
I shared with them my protocol when meeting new clients and the contract we agree together before we begin working together.
Suffice to say that no one in that meeting had in place basic guidelines for the general behaviour of everyone during meetings.
It is important never to assume that other human beings will be clear about what’s ok and what’s not ok unless it is discussed. This need not take up a huge amount of time but it is time well spent and will improve future meetings.
The solicitors in Shropshire with whom I work all have a copy of my protocol, ‘Round Table Meeting Group Contract’, which they use on a daily basis not only when meeting clients for the first time, but before any other meeting as an aide memoir so that everyone-clients and solicitors alike- know what is expected of them during the meeting.
I wanted to share this with you and I’m very than happy for you to use it in your day to day practice.
Round Table Meeting Group Contract
We like to have a group Contract for Participants of these meetings in order that everyone knows what is expected of them.
- It is important that you are on time for the meeting.
- You are responsible for what you contribute to the meeting both verbally and non-verbally.
- Speak for yourself using ‘I’ Statements, e.g. I think, I believe, I feel. Try to avoid using generalisations or absolutes e.g. he/she always, never.
- We would like you to participate in the meeting, if however, you feel upset or angry at any point during the meeting please ask for a ‘Time Out’ so that you can calm down and continue.
- Your opinions and views are equally valuable, your experiences may be similar or very different to those present. We ask you to treat those present with respect and sensitivity.
- Please take turns to speak and try not to interrupt when someone is talking.
- Make sure that you listen fully to what is being said.
- If you are unclear about anything that has been said during the meeting please ask an open question to find out more. Open questions begin with who, what, where, when, how.
- Please be guided by your solicitor, they are experienced in resolving matters collaboratively.
- Please switch your mobile phone to silent for the duration of the meeting. I hope you find this useful, please do get in touch if you require more information.