WHAT ARE SOME FACTORS YOU CONSIDER TO BE IMPORTANT IN DEVELOPING A STRONG ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP?
I think maybe the biggest thing is taking all the time that is necessary. Just like in any relationship, a good relationship, trust, or rapport, develops with time. You’re not going to get a good rapport with someone who is only willing to give you ten minutes. You need to be spending a lot of time at every phase.
There has to be great communication, there has to be easy communication. From being able to get a hold of a person, and getting a response within a reasonable time, to them really giving you their time in person or on the phone.
Part of building a rapport is having someone who’s really willing to listen. But, there’s a flip side to that too. You also want to find someone who’s going to give you tough love and who’s going to give you strong advice. You want someone who you respect as a client because the attorney gives it to you straight.
When individuals hire a private defense attorney, they are putting their hard-earned dollars towards trying to defend a case and they’re paying for the experience, they’re paying for an opinion, and they’re always entitled to hear the truth from their lawyer. They’re always entitled to hear what the lawyer thinks and sometimes that’s not going to be what they want to hear. But you definitely don’t want someone who’s just going to tell you what you want to hear and at the end of the process, when the outcome is bad say, well, it’s the judge’s fault or it’s someone else’s fault. You want someone who gives you that balance of listening but also using a firm, experienced hand in guiding you.
HOW DO YOU STRIVE PERSONALLY TO BUILD A STRONG ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP?
I like to spend a lot of time with people from the beginning. I like to spend as much time as I need with them talking. I then tell them, and I think I prove it to them through my actions, that they’ve got access to me 24/7. They’re going to have my cellphone number from the beginning of the representation. They’re going to have ready access to me all the way through the process, that’s part of building a strong rapport.
I really listen to them, which I think is a skill a lot of attorneys don’t bring to the table. I’m always wanting to know what their objectives are, what their goals are, what are they worried about, what are their anxieties. And then I do my very best to give them an honest assessment, to select the best tools and the best tactics, and also to give them some comfort in letting them know, hey, you’re not the first person to have faced this situation, this is not the first time I’ve faced the situation, and there is some predictability to this process here. We can forecast a range of outcomes.
I think that just by giving people more information, as much information as you can, that really builds a rapport. That’s what I always strive to do so that a person always feels like I kept them informed, and always knew what was coming. That they were never surprised by anything and that I had listened to them so that I had the best opportunity to do everything that I could to achieve the best possible legal outcome in their case.