Avoid this #1 Bar Complaint

Client satisfaction keeps us all in business. When we fail to meet the needs of our clients, they complain. In the case of Law, clients can file their grievances with the bar. By making this one mistake, you put yourself and your firm at risk. Read on to find out more about this number one bar complaint and how you can avoid it.

Number One Bar Complaint

Per this statistical analysis found in the files of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, “The most common complaint nationwide is a ‘failure to communicate.’ Attorneys must communicate with their clients…”

Read that again. The number one complaint nationwide is a failure to communicate.

Page 648 of this journal reinforces the rule that states:

A lawyer shall: (1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules; (2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished; (3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter; (4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and (5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.107

Keeping your clients in the loop should be a no-brainer, but sometimes your workload is too heavy and you just do not have the time to answer every call.

So how do you avoid this complaint?

Avoiding the Number One Bar Complaint

Clearly, your clients just want to be in the loop on their law-related matters. We’ve listed a few ways to help ease the communication frustrations below.

  1. Use your support staff.

    Clients don’t always need to speak with the attorney. Oftentimes, they just want to know a status update. This is a great opportunity to have your receptionist return the call and provide a quick update such as, “We have not heard back yet, but expect to have a reply within four weeks. We will call you as soon as we receive an update.”

  2. Protect your time.

    Your time is precious. Don’t get bogged down by stacks of phone messages! Have your receptionist set up return calls. Many of our clients use a time blocking system and return calls during a specific block of time each day.

    • Tip: Use a timer at meetings. Let clients know that out of respect for their time and your schedule, you will be setting a timer up to avoid accidentally running over. This sets the tone with the client that your time is also valuable. The meeting will start and end on time, saving you from time vampires.
  3. Set expectations.

    If you are unable to promptly return a call, let the client know when they can expect a return call, then follow up on time as promised.

If you already have a receptionist, consider passing these tips on to them so they can help you help your clients. If you haven’t hired a receptionist and are finding yourself feeling overwhelmed by the volume of calls you receive, give us a call at 800-958-8591. We’ll always answer!*


*during our business hours of 5am-5pm PT, M-F


1 reply
  1. Chris Pederson
    Chris Pederson says:

    It’s good to know that failure to communicate is a common complaint. My dad said the lawyer he hired was terrible at communicating. He was worried that all lawyers are like this but I’m glad to see it is common problem.

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