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Practice Management

Build Trust in Online Legal Communications

By Matt Spiegel

Trust: It’s a quality that supports ease of communication and smooth case management and secures your colleagues’ and clients’ loyalty. But with so much happening today in the online space, how do you establish it? Here are four building blocks of establishing a trustworthy persona in your online legal communications — one that will stick with you offline as well.

1. Be Authentic

While online tools are convenient, this type of messaging can also cause the human element of your interactions with clients to fade. Online communication can quickly become impersonal, and it’s difficult for clients and colleagues to fully trust a faceless, predominantly task-oriented presence.

To fix this, always demonstrate your awareness of the case’s importance to your client and show respect for the client’s concerns. Establish a transparent and personable tone and be consistent about your availability for questions. Don’t disappear: Make an effort to send messages to clients more frequently, and consider occasionally checking in via phone, too. Efficiency is important, but you want clients to feel valued and informed.

2. Stay Organized

One of the best ways to make both clients and colleagues doubt your dependability is to lose track of tasks and documents. The online space can potentially magnify this problem, because it’s easy to get flustered by all the options for communication and organization. Your clients’ and staff members’ confidence in you depends on the information management system you have in place.

When executing and delegating tasks, ambiguity kills efficiency. Create an outline of responsibilities so that people know who is responsible for which tasks and nothing falls through for lack of clarity. Clients should be able to view their responsibilities and the documents they’ve submitted, too. Keep your meetings and events on one calendar that syncs with your devices, and make sure it’s updated and visible to colleagues and clients.

3. Defend Your Data

Back up your information in more than one location. Storing your firm’s data in the cloud can minimize the risk of loss, theft or damage to documents, but you must make sure your cloud storage system is frequently updated and free of vulnerabilities. Ideally, you want to avoid conducting attorney-client communications via public email as well. Using a secure online client portal for messaging, for example, can streamline your communication and add a layer of protection for confidentiality.

4. Quality Control

With just a quick Google search, clients can view an overwhelming number of legal representation options. The key to standing out as a dependable lawyer is consistency and quality customer service. Total transparency assures clients that you are delivering the quality they expect. Take the time to make all details of case developments available for your clients, and message them with updates on their case’s status or to check in on their satisfaction. Provide precise timeframes for tasks and an accurate outline of costs, too.

The goal here isn’t to promise more than you can deliver, it’s to exceed your clients’ expectations. Trust is formed by avoiding ambiguity and educating clients on what they can realistically expect for their cases.

Finally, remember this: Many of your competitors still don’t understand how to conduct successful client relationships in the digital era. Be the lawyer who knows how to foster loyalty and trust online, and you’ll watch your practice grow.

Matt Spiegel is the Vice President and GM of MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management system. He is an attorney in San Diego and started his criminal defense law practice in 2009 after working for four years with one of San Diego’s largest consumer law firms. As a practicing attorney and one of the founders of MyCase, he often speaks at legal conferences regarding the ins-and-outs of running a law practice and how cloud computing technologies can benefit the legal profession.

Illustration Copyright © Paulo Buchinho / ImageZoo

Categories: Cloud Computing, Communications Skills, Daily Dispatch, Managing a Law Firm
Originally published April 29, 2014
Last updated May 21, 2014
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Matt Spiegel Matt Spiegel

Matt Spiegel is a lawyer turned entrepreneur. After starting his own law firm in 2009, he founded MyCase, a leading provider of practice management software. He sold MyCase to AppFolio in 2012 and remained the head of the company until his departure in 2015. Matt then went on to lead Cammy, a consumer camera security technology, as CEO until 2017. In 2017, Matt founded Lawmatics, a powerful CRM, Intake and Marketing Automation platform for law firms.  Follow Matt @mattspiegelesq.

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