Final Thoughts

Remember that a satisfied client is your best source of future work, both in the form of return business and through referrals. Quite apart from your professional responsibilities, by failing to communicate effectively with your clients you are poisoning the lifeblood of your business. Similarly, lawyers who communicate in an unprofessional manner risk becoming pariahs in a very small community.

In closing, we leave you with the following thoughts to ponder:

The art of communication is the language of leadership.
James Humes

The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.
Sydney Harris

The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
Daniel Davenport

Community Discussion

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Only few actually learn to communicate effectively. Keep in mind that communication is only partially verbal. Where possible meet with people in person so you can use non-verbal communication (a smile, seating position, body language, etc.) to add to your communication. It is essential to meet with each person in person at least several times to develop a good relationship (and therefore line of communication).

Parts of this course assumes that the lawyer is involved in some type of litigation or if not actual litigation significant conflicts between a lawyer's client and another party. My practice involves solicitor's type of work mostly dealing with corporate organization and re-organization plus business transactions of one kind or another. I have chosen to limit my practice to specific areas and will not engage in providing advice outside those areas but if a client requires services that I cannot provide, I will refer the client to other lawyers who I believe are competent to assist the client. Therefore I am not typically faced with limitation dates, the drafting of affidavits that might be contentious or dealing with the Courts generally. However, I do subscribe to the suggestion that keeping a client informed on a regular basis even if it is a quick telephone call or e'mail to let the client know how the matter is proceeding. Clearly, communication from other lawyers must be clear, measured and polite so as to effectively advance your client's position particularly in negotiations around the selling or buying of a business or property even if the language requires firmness to clarify a client's position on any unresolved matter. This also applies to valuators, accountants, realtors and other of the client's advisors who may be playing a role in the transaction. I find that it is often difficult to accurately predict the cost of my representation but I have found it to be acceptable to provide what I call a "budget" number for the client which is usually acceptable to the client. Obviously, any communication from the Law Society ought to be answered without delay or if delay is inevitable then call the person in the Society and request time to respond but confirm the conversation in written form. I also find that a client focussed staff is an absolute must in retaining a client. This will occur only if the lawyer treats staff in a courteous and professional manner. Although it is important to spend sufficient time to understand the client's needs/expectations, I do not usually engage in idle "chat". This simply takes the focus off the reason for the meeting and wastes the client's and the lawyer's time. As well, the state of the lawyer's office, the lawyer's appearance, dress and that of the staff play a role in client relationships. I find it valuable to meet the clients in a meeting room and not my actual office which is often somewhat untidy.
I hope these comments are seen to be valuable to anyone who reads them.

This is the other side of the coin. None of us want to be the subject of a complaint to the Law Society and effective communication can help to minimuze the chances. But what we are actually dealing with on a day-to-day basis is client satisfaction and the impact it has on our business. I think only a very small number of dissatisfied clients would go to the Law Society, but no dissatisfied client will recommend our services. Failing to communicate properly can be a real business killer.