Usually when you hire an attorney to help you in your legal matter, there is one question that is never asked, but should be. That question centers on communication: “What is the best way for us to communicate after I leave today?”
Communication, as defined by your standard dictionary, is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” The exchange of information is a paramount element of any relationship. So naturally, communication forms a pivotal role in the newly formed relationship between the attorney and the client. Yet an important key in the definition of communication is that it is “exchanged between individuals”, which implies that it can vary and be as different as the individuals who are communicating with each other.
Each person has their own preference for communication. Some individuals prefer in person meetings, where information can be exchanged and transferred and a cooperative relationship can be developed with ease. While some attorneys have an open-door policy with their clients, many attorneys prefer an appointment-based system to keep everyone’s schedule synchronized. An appointment allows the attorney to devout a specific time to addressing the client’s particular needs.
However, some people prefer making a simple phone call to their attorney, recognizing that formal in-person meetings are not always required. Still it is important to clarify with the attorney whether he or she prefers specific times for teleconferences, or is the attorney more mobile, allowing for a direct line of communication, possibly even via texting directly to their cellphone, at any time of the day, or even on weekends? Finding which route meets the needs and desires of each party is important in establishing a healthy relationship from the very beginning.
Email is also very popular amongst attorneys, and is usually the preferred form of communication by attorneys with clients. Many attorneys respond well to email communications because it allows for a “paper trail” of what has been discussed and what is needed moving forward. Email also allows the attorney and client to revisit past communications. Some clients find that an attorney responds better to an email, and a written communication stream between the client and the attorney allows the parties to clearly articulate their needs throughout the entire legal matter.
The digital age has opened new doors of communications for attorneys and clients, whether through texting, messaging through a client portal or app, use of video conferencing, or some other similar medium. There are now a variety of options for exchanging information, and attorneys and clients have embraced them all for communication purposes.
Still, as noted earlier, we are all individuals, and as such, we each have our own predisposed preferred methods of communication. As a client, you may prefer texting, but the Attorney may respond best via scheduled telephonic conferences, with limited texting as the means of communicating about the subject legal matter. A client may prefer in-person meetings, whereas the attorney may work best on the go with an open-door, call direct line phone policy.
Regardless of the preferred method of each, it is important for both the client and the attorney to be on the same wave length in regard to communication. If a new client does not ask, we at Alton Law always pose the question upon retainment: “What is the best way for us to communicate with you?”. If our preferred method does not match your preferred method, compromise is always key. Once there is a meeting of the minds between attorney and client, and a willingness to compromise on both ends, then you can rest assured that you are on The Alton Road to Successful Client Attorney Communications.