Written by:

Grant Yuill

Head of Marketing & Customer Engagement

As a lawyer, effective communication with your clients is essential for providing effective legal representation. Unfortunately, not every client is simple to work with, particularly when it comes to communication.

Regardless of your practice area, you will undoubtedly encounter difficult clients during your legal career. Dealing with demanding clients is a part of your job, whether they are dissatisfied with your representation or openly disregard your legal advice. 

Effective solicitor-client communication is sometimes essential in resolving these issues before they escalate to the level of malpractice litigation or other less-than-ideal consequences. Good communication can help you weather a difficult client encounter and prevent a problem from getting worse.

Fortunately, there are methods you can use to strengthen solicitor-client relationships, allowing you to give effective legal representation to your client and resolve issues swiftly. This post will go over excellent practices and tactics for dealing with tough clients. 

Some methods and techniques for dealing with difficult clients

Managing Client Expectations – Set clear expectations with your clients and communicate them from the start. Our Experts recommend that you create a formal client packet explaining your rules and approaches to present to them for reference. You can use task reminders in your legal practice management software to guarantee that you don’t forget to send this to each client at the start of your working relationship.

Keep Your Boundaries – Set and express clear boundaries with your clientele. Maintain consistency since inconsistency can obscure whatever recommendations you present to your clients when setting expectations. Additionally, avoid communicating on your personal mobile phone. Instead, use your client portal to ensure that everything is secure, recorded, and time-stamped.

Maintain a positive attitude and a solution-oriented mindset – Concentrate on communicating the value of your legal services and providing solutions based on your client’s specific circumstances. Clients can use Matter Tags to indicate any one-of-a-kind instances for convenient reference by your personnel. That way, if someone’s issue demands immediate attention, you can provide them with the greatest assistance to help them find a solution.

Be Empathetic –Try to understand your client’s concerns and needs. Capture what success looks like for your client during your first meeting and record it in a memo so that you understand your client’s perspective. This paperwork also assists you in determining whether or not this client matches your approach before engaging them as a retaining client. Furthermore, you comprehend their expectations and can illustrate the path to accomplishing their objectives.

Why communication between Solicitors and clients is important

Poor communication is one of the major reasons for legal malpractice litigation, according to the Law Society. Malpractice claims can threaten your legal career and professional reputation, as well as divert critical time and resources away from your practice. 

When communicating with your clients, ensure that you are boosting their trust in you and your abilities, controlling their expectations, and improving the quality of your legal representation. 

Effective communication is essential for meeting your objectives and satisfying your clients. There are a few best practices you can apply to improve your Lawyer and Client communication, whether you have a challenging client or an average client. 

Best Practices for solicitor-Client Communication

Managing Client Expectations

Managing your client’s expectations is essential for sustaining effective solicitor-client communication. You should be upfront about your legal fees, the possibility of a favourable outcome, the time it will take to handle their problem, and other important data. 

This helps prevent misunderstandings and better prepares your client for what is to come. The situations you manage may be quite delicate depending on your practice area. It will be easier for you and your client if you prepare them for every conceivable outcome and what to expect. 

It is also important to maintain constant communication with your client throughout the lawsuit. Managing their expectations in advance isn’t always enough to keep them on the same page as you throughout your time together. 

By reducing the risk of clients being startled or taken aback by the length of the case, the cost of your services, or the conclusion, you lessen the likelihood of your client becoming unsatisfied and triggering future disputes. 

Maintaining Client Boundaries

Clients might be demanding for a variety of reasons, but most of the time, it has nothing to do with you or your talents as a solicitor.

Solicitor-client privilege and confidentiality might make a difficult client seem more like a therapist than a legal counsel. This can lead to them pushing boundaries, putting undue strain on their solicitor, and projecting personal concerns onto the case and their lawyer. 

When dealing with a difficult client, you may want to go above and beyond or make yourself extremely accessible to them in order to boost their satisfaction with your services. Taking this approach is not usually the best way to deal with things. 

It is best to establish boundaries with the client at the beginning of the engagement and stick to them throughout every lawyer-client relationship. 

Here are some examples of boundaries you could consider implementing:

  • Setting specific phone hours.
  • Keeping a 24-hour email response time.
  • Requiring your client to make an appointment before visiting your office.

You should also make sure that your default response to every client request is not “yes.” While you want to keep your clients happy and do everything you can to serve them, there will undoubtedly be instances when the best answer you can give them is a “no” or “I’ll get back to you.” 

We urge that whenever you have to say “no” to a client’s request, especially if it is challenging, you provide an alternative approach or solution so they do not become frustrated and walk out.

Overall, you should never overextend yourself or exceed your personal limitations only to please a difficult client. That usually does not help the client or their case, and it reduces your energy as their lawyer. 

Maintain a positive attitude and a solution-oriented approach when dealing with difficult clients

Along similar lines, when you have to say no to a client or deliver terrible news, it is important to do so positively. There will be numerous times in your career when your client receives bad news or becomes overwhelmed during their case. It can be difficult to keep a positive manner in these situations, especially when dealing with a difficult client. 

Regardless of how your client communicates with you, you should always retain a professional attitude focused on problem resolution. While they may be expressing their anxiety and frustrations in a less than positive manner, if you maintain a solution-oriented attitude to your interactions, you will be able to de-escalate the situation more effectively. 

Staying solution-oriented means focusing on the activities you can take to remedy the problem rather than enabling your client to dwell on the problem. While providing feasible solutions to your clients’ challenges, emphasize that your representation and action plan are targeted toward that objective. Assure them that you are working hard to assist them achieve the greatest possible outcome. 

Show Empathy When Dealing With Difficult Clients

That being said, being sympathetic and empathic will go a long way when your client becomes overwhelmed, upset or otherwise emotional as a result of bad news or other challenges in their case. Your client, no matter how difficult they are, needs to know that you understand their emotions and frustrations. 

While it is easy to become agitated when dealing with an angry or confrontational client, engaging them with empathy will urge them to be far more receptive to what you have to say. You can accomplish this by simply listening to your client without worrying about how you will answer. You can build a more healthy relationship with your client if you prioritise listening to grasp the client’s point of view over gathering information to present a legal remedy.

To show that you’re paying attention, acknowledge your client’s feelings, validate their feelings, and address their issues. When you remember that your client is a human being like you, it is much easier to remain calm and empathetic. 

How to Improve solicitor-Client Communications in the Face of Difficult Clients

Learning to cope with difficult clients by mastering solicitor-client communication is essential for safeguarding your reputation, avoiding malpractice lawsuits, and developing solid client relationships. 

3 communication tactics for mastering client interactions

#1. Managing your Client Expectations

Make sure to be open and honest about your legal fees. Create a fee schedule when dealing with clients, or at the very least, use consistent language and fee structures when addressing the cost of your services.

At the start of the representation, be open about the chances of a positive outcome and other important information. Setting clear guidelines whenever possible can reduce the likelihood of future customer disputes.

#2. Maintaining Boundaries

At the start of your solicitor-client relationship, make it clear how and when your client can reach you. Using technologies such as Denovo’s client portal can help ensure and maintain clear limits.

#3. Maintain an optimistic attitude and a solution-oriented mindset

Always concentrate on actions you can take to assist your client in reaching their objectives. Be proactive in anticipating each step, listen carefully, and have a cool head.

Improving solicitor-client communication is essential for a successful partnership. You may effectively manage even the most difficult customer relationships by setting clear expectations, keeping limits, and being cheerful. Using the correct techniques guarantees that all parties are kept informed and on the same page throughout the legal process.

Like the article?
Share it with your friends and colleagues!


Latest news & events


Get started with Denovo today

Schedule time with our legal technology experts for a personalised demonstration of our CaseLoad Software.

Book a Demo ⟶