Quick Tips

The Importance of Good Client Communication and What They Really Want When They Call Their Lawyer
guest author: Andrew J. Garcia, Esq.

The term "Paralegal" has been defined by the National Federation of Paralegal Association "as a person qualified through education, training, or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency, or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory, or court authority to perform this work."

The "Myth vs. Reality." While I might be able to point to all of these references to the definition of paralegal, you may be saying to yourself "come on, I do so much more than just substantive legal work under the supervision of an attorney." Paralegals across the country oftentimes answer the phones like a receptionist, deal with sorting the incoming and outgoing mail, do the book keeping, write the checks and pay the bills, and order supplies. Heck, some paralegals probably even clean the bathrooms!

Let's face it: the truth is that in the real world, the definition of what a paralegal's responsibilities can be different from office to office. But one thing is for sure, it's safe to say that all paralegals are going to be having some sort of client interactions as part of their job. In your role as paralegal, effectively handling these interactions is critical to your success as a paralegal and is fundamental to your overall happiness and satisfaction in your professional career.

Here are 10 tips to improve the clients experience:

  1. Answer the phone with a smile. Are you answering the phone with a smile? I know it sounds silly because people can't see you on the phone, but believe it or not if you're answering it with a smile the caller will know it and they'll feel it in their interaction with you.
  2. Listen. My father used to always tell me, you have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally. Listen to your called and let them know they're being heard.
  3. Build Trust. Trust is the key to any relationship. Use first names in an appropriate fashion, be respectful at all times, let them know you're part of the team working for them to accomplish their goals. Remember it's always "about the client." 
  4. Go above and beyond. Are you going above and beyond? Ever been to Disney World? There's a reason it's called the most magical place in the world. The moment you step foot on a Disney property you get the penultimate of customer service. Make your goal with client communications the "Disney experience" and it will pay back tenfold.
  5. Keep it confidential. Always remember the ethical rule to maintain client confidentiality
  6. Advocate for them. When was the last time you had any experience with a customer service representative? How were you treated? Did you get the feeling you were an interruption to the representative? Or, did you feel welcomed and as if the representative was on your side trying to solve a problem.
  7. Teamwork. Make sure the client understands that you are on the same team and that you are trying to help them.
  8. Provide great communication. Clients want to be kept informed of key developments in the case. Keep them in the loop.
  9. Stay organized. Have everything ready for the client. Make sure copies are made and filed away neatly and organized.
  10. Be mindful of nonverbal communication. Be mindful of what your body language is telling the client. Make sure you're showing them you're listening and fully engaged


Andrew J. Garcia, Esq. is the managing attorney of SouthCoast Estate Planning, a division of Phillips Garcia Law (www.SouthCoastEstatePlanning.com) in Dartmouth, MA. SouthCoast Estate Planning focuses on helping families protect their life savings from nursing homes and the government. He's passionate about working with today's modern families and has developed a niche estate planning practice for blended families and couples in second marriages. In the past, Mr. Garcia co-counseled many types of litigation cases with lawyers across the country and practiced in federal and state courts in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Florida, California, Washington, Rhode Island and Connecticut. He is also an adjunct professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. If you'd like to refer a case to him or send him a question, he can be emailed at agarcia@phillipsgarcia.com.

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