The Lives of Lawyers: Actionable Tips for Law Firms to Increase Client Satisfaction

The Lives of Lawyers: Actionable Tips for Law Firms to Increase Client Satisfaction

Client satisfaction not only affects client retention and a firm’s reputation but is considered as a key driver of growth. According to Harvard Business Review, referrals are still the most common way people find an attorney.

Understandably, clients that have a pleasant experience working with you are highly likely to send more business your way in the future. In an age when Big Law firms are spending roughly 2% of their budget on marketing and business development, it’s important to remember that satisfied clients are a firm’s most powerful marketing channel.

With the internet, clients have more options than ever when it comes to legal services. If you are able to retain happy clients, you’ll be able to give yourself a competitive advantage. Winning cases is just one way to keep clients happy. Luckily, there are many other steps you can take to build rapport with your clients and to keep them entrusting you with their legal needs.

How to keep your law firm clients satisfied?

6 Reasons Why Your Law Firm Clients Leave · BUSINESSFIRST

Keeping clients satisfied comes down to reducing common friction points, like billing, mismatched communication patterns, and mismanaged expectations, relating to cornerstone aspects of legal work, such as deadlines and billing. Below are some of the best practices to ensure client satisfaction:

1- Be responsive and accessible

Although it may just be one case among many for your firm, for the client, it could feel like their entire life hangs in the balance. When clients reach out to you, it’s imperative that they feel like they have a good chance of getting through and being heard. That means giving timely callbacks if you missed one. Preferably, never let the client wait for more than 24 hours.

Consider using App4Legal Client Portal, it allows clients to collaborate and add comments in order to inform or share information such as attachments and more via the comments section inside the ticket.

2- Keep your clients updated

Share important information to clients about their case as well as pertinent information about your firm frequently. Communication is a two-way street and, although you should always be accessible, the client shouldn’t feel the onus is on them every time to make contact.

Following up with clients or making sure they are up to date on the details will make them feel appreciated. It will also foster a sense of transparency and reliability. In a practical sense, it allows clients to else prepare themselves in line with new developments.

3- Strike up a personal connection

If someone’s about to enter critical legal proceedings, there’s nothing they want more than to believe they have someone is by their side. Through trying to appear professional, it’s easy to come across as cold.

So, from the very beginning, it’s critical to treat your clients with respect, dignity, and a hint of compassion. Client service is something that should permeate every part of the client acquisition, interaction, and retention process. Don’t let clients go too long without receiving real human contact from your firm.

Take a polite interest in your client’s personal and business life. This will also give you a better understanding of where they’re coming from.

4- Modernize your practice

In this day and age, every established law firm should have a modern, attractive, and functioning website. People have more choices than ever, and a professional website will create that first impression you need to stand out.

There are also many tools that law firms can use to improve their client service and streamline their work processes. Tired of having your law firm buried in paperwork and manual work processes? App4Legal software can help you effortlessly draft professional documents and manage them digitally.

Discover the top 7 reasons a law firm should adopt technology.

5- Enhance your digital presence 

6 Ways To Strengthen Your Digital Presence — CoStartup & Go | A Unique &  Dynamic Startup Support Company

To maximize your client acquisition, you need to compete for attention online. Nowadays, most peoples research starts (and usually ends) at Google. For law firms, it’s especially important to optimize their search engine rankings locally, as this is still how most law business is done.

You don’t have to be a marketing expert. There are many marketing tips that can help you in learning legal marketing. It starts with optimizing your online presence, enhancing your website appearance, and creating your free online profile. Contact us for more information.

The Different Kinds of Divorce

What Is Divorce?

Coronavirus not the main cause of divorce spike, NY lawyers explains

Generally speaking, there are two types of divorce. One is called “divorce from bed and board,” which is available in some states. At its core, this allows couples to legally separate, and is typically used by spouses who want to live their own lives but, for whatever reason, don’t want to formally end their marriage. Divorce from bed and board is infrequently seen these days.

The more common type of divorce is an “absolute divorce” which dissolves the marriage. A legal clean break, so to speak. It’s this concept that this article will focus on.

There are various methods available to reach the goal of having a judge issue a judgment of absolute divorce. For the sake of convenience, it’s become standard practice in the law to label each of these methods as a separate kind of divorce, which is how we’ll describe them below.

Summary Divorce

Who Is Eligible For A Summary Divorce? The Basics

In many states, an expedited divorce procedure is available to couples who haven’t been married for very long (usually five years or less), don’t own much property, don’t have children, and don’t have significant joint debts. Both spouses need to agree to the divorce, and must file court papers jointly.

A summary (sometimes called “simplified”) divorce involves a lot less paperwork than other types of divorce—a few forms are often all it takes. For this reason, summary divorces are easy to do without the help of a lawyer. You can usually get the forms you need from your state court’s official website, or from the local family court clerk’s office.

Uncontested Divorce

What are the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce?

In terms of dealing with the court process, the path that normally generates the least amount of stress is an uncontested divorce. That’s one in which you and your spouse settle up-front all your differences on issues such as custody and visitation (parenting time), child supportalimony, and division of property. You’ll then incorporate the terms of your settlement in a written “property settlement agreement” (sometimes called a “separation agreement”).

Once your case is settled, you can file for divorce with the court. Courts almost invariably fast-track these types of cases, so you can get divorced in a relatively short period of time. In some states, you many not even have to make a court appearance, but rather can file an affidavit (sworn statement) with the court clerk.

Default Divorce

A default divorce occurs when you’ve filed for divorce, and your spouse doesn’t respond. You’d likely see this, for example, if your spouse has left for parts unknown and can’t be found.

Assuming you’ve complied with the court’s rules and regulations, a judge can grant the divorce despite the fact your spouse hasn’t participated in the court proceedings. On its face, this may seem like the ideal situation. No one is there to contest what you’re asking the court to give you. But be aware that there are pro and cons to a default divorce.

Contested Divorce

If you and your spouse are at loggerheads over one or more marital issues, to the point that you can’t come to an agreement, then it will be up to a judge to decide those issues for you. This is what’s meant by a contested divorce.

Contested divorces are stressful, time-consuming, and expensive (think mounting attorneys’ fees). You’ll go through a lengthy process of exchanging financial and other relevant information, mandatory settlement negotiations, and court hearings for temporary relief, such as interim alimony, for example, if warranted.

And if you can’t resolve the case after all that, there will be a court trial. The burdens of a contested divorce are why the vast majority of divorce cases ultimately settle at some point before trial.

Fault and No-Fault Divorce

This refers to the grounds (reasons) on which you’re basing the divorce. Your state’s laws will set out the permissible grounds for divorce. In the not-too-distant past, people who wanted to dissolve their marriage had to show that the other spouse was guilty of wrongdoing, such as adultery or cruelty. Needless to say, accusing your spouse of misconduct could make for quite a contentious divorce.

Now, however, all states offer some form of “no-fault” divorce. In a no-fault divorce, instead of proving that a spouse is to blame for the marriage failing, you merely state that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences,” or have suffered an “irremediable breakdown” of your relationship.

But note that just because the grounds for a divorce may be no-fault, that doesn’t mean the case is uncontested. You still have to resolve all your other marital issues.

If you have questions about these procedures, contact a local family law attorney for advice. The laws vary from state to state.

Mediated Divorce

Before filing for divorce, options are available to you if you need assistance in trying to resolve your differences. These are referred to as “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) methods. One of those is divorce mediation. Here, a trained neutral third party (the mediator), sits down with you and your spouse to try to help you resolve all of the issues in your divorce.

It’s not the mediator’s job to make decisions for you. Rather, mediators offer guidance and help you communicate with each other until, hopefully, you reach a meeting of the minds. A successful mediation usually ends with the preparation of a property settlement agreement.

Collaborative Divorce

Another ADR option is “collaborative divorce“. This entails working with lawyers who are specially trained in this method of settling divorces. The spouses hire their own lawyers, each of whom is obligated to work cooperatively, with the sole purpose of trying to settle your case. Each spouse agrees to disclose all the information that’s necessary for fair negotiations, and to meet with each other and both lawyers, as often as necessary, to attempt to reach a settlement.

You all must agree that if your divorce doesn’t settle through the collaborative process, your original attorneys will withdraw and you’ll have to hire different attorneys to take your case to court. This is done to ensure that all participants, including the attorneys, are acting in good faith, with nothing to gain from veering away from the goal of settlement.

Divorce Arbitration

In states that allow it, a third form of ADR is “divorce arbitration“. This option is the most similar to a trial, because the arbitrator (usually an attorney or a retired judge) will make a decision on your marital issues, after being presented with the facts of your case and reviewing the documentation you would ordinarily produce at trial.

The benefits of arbitration are that it’s typically conducted in an informal—and thus less intimidating—setting than a courthouse (usually the arbitrator’s office) and, as with the other forms of ADR, allows you the flexibility of picking meeting times that fit your schedules. This makes it more cost-effective than having to make court appearances, which often involve sitting around racking up attorneys’ fees while waiting for a judge to become available.

The potential downside to arbitration is that, unlike mediation and collaborative divorce, the arbitrator’s decision is almost invariably final. You give up your right to appeal it; a right you would have in a standard court trial. It’s something of a roll of the dice in that regard, which is why arbitration isn’t as popular as the other ADR methods.

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

If you have questions about these procedures, contact a local family law attorney for advice. The laws vary from state to state.

Top 10 Things NOT to Do When You Divorce

The divorce process can be a particularly emotional and vulnerable time. Don’t make these common mistakes.

Mother having serious talk with young daughter

As anyone who’s gone through a divorce can tell you, the process is rarely easy. Tensions run high, and couples often make poor decisions in the heat of the moment.

Given the mountain of financial, practical and emotional details that have to be sorted, it’s not surprising so many couples wind up making critical mistakes on the road to divorce. However, there are a number of things you should do, or more specifically not do, to lessen the chance you’ll regret your decisions later on.

Related: How to Get a Divorce With No Money

Here are the top 10 tips on what to avoid when filing for divorce.

1. Don’t Get Pregnant

Having a baby during your divorce complicates a lot of things, and could even hinder your right to divorce. In November 2004, a Spokane County, Wash. judge refused to allow Shawnna Hughes, a pregnant woman, to divorce her abusive husband. Hughes’ husband is not the father of her child. But because Hughes became pregnant during the divorce proceedings, state law presumes Hughes’ husband to be the father of her child born up to 300 days after her divorce. The judge refused to grant Hughes a divorce because he was concerned there would be no father to take financial responsibility for the child. Although many states now grant single parents the same rights as married ones, having a child when you’re in marital limbo can be problematic.

2. Don’t Forget to Change Your Will

Getting divorced does not automatically revoke a will. If you want to prevent your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from receiving the monies and privileges granted them in your will, you need to update your will. You can re-do a will at any time. But if you die before you are granted a divorce, and you have left your spouse nothing, he or she can sue and recover part of your estate.

3. Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Collaborative Divorce or Mediation

In a collaborative divorce, you can get the help of professionals—attorneys, divorce coaches and therapists, to divide property and manage emotional stress. Some critics of collaborative divorce believe that attorneys, divorce coaches and therapists who engage in collaborative divorce are not really experts, and cost too much time and money. But the majority of jurisdictions with collaborative divorce have stated that collaborative divorce is more cooperative and less adversarial than traditional divorce.

Mediation is different. Only one third-party professional—a divorce mediator—helps you and your spouse reach an agreement. Mediation is more of an ongoing process than a one-time intervention. Although lawyers are generally not allowed into mediation sessions, you can consult a lawyer at any time during the process to make sure you are getting the right result.

4. Don’t Sleep With Your Lawyer

It’s easy to get close to the one person who is on your side. But it’s also a big mistake. Some states prohibit all sexual activity between an attorney and client. Other states allow an attorney and client who had a sexual relationship before the case to continue the relationship. In either case, sleeping with your lawyer can compromise your attorney-client communications because you may be charged with adultery for the infidelity.

5. Don’t Take It out on the Kids

Children need a supportive environment to deal with divorce. Minimize the amount you talk about the process. It will give you more time to be there for them. Refocus your energy so you can attend their school and after-school events, help them with homework, and take them out once in a while to the movies or the zoo. When you are relaxed, they get more relaxed. Though you should be comfortable talking with your children about the divorce, the point of this divorce is to relieve stress on you and your family.

6. Don’t Refuse to See a Therapist

Seeing a therapist can help you get through the range of emotions that you will experience when dealing with divorce. It is a good idea to get help before you become extremely depressed or angry. A therapist is not just someone to talk to. They are also a professional who can show you how to relax, how to talk to your kids, and how to remain calm in court. Most importantly, a therapist can help you figure out how to become self-sufficient.

7. Don’t Wait Until After the Holidays

You already know the holidays are not going to be difficult. So why wait?

Divorce lawyers often see an increase in clients before, during, and after Christmas. It’s also easier to get used to an empty home before the holidays. If you wait (and fight) through the season, you may destroy any chances for an amicable split and wind up hashing out your differences in court.

8. Don’t Forget About Taxes

Typically, the person who is awarded custody of the children gets the house. But the house may not be the best deal. If you can’t afford the mortgage, taxes and upkeep on the house, you want to ask for the investment portfolio of equal value instead. However, before declaring yourself king or queen of your block, remember:single people are not allowed to shelter as many capital gains from taxes. Stocks can also be at issue. Newly-purchased stocks may be more desirable because they will cost you less in capital gains taxes.

9. Don’t Settle Early

Just because you want out of your marriage immediately doesn’t mean you should forfeit your financial security. Make multiple copies of all of your important financial documents: pension statements, tax forms, brokerage and mutual fund statements, credit card statements, and other records. It will make you aware of what you own and even what you owe.

Make sure that you and the children will continue to have health insurance during and after the divorce proceedings. While you are still married to your spouse, an illness or accident can change how property is divided.

If you and your spouse can work out an amicable agreement on your own, you can file what’s known as an “uncontested” divorce. This will save you both time and money in court costs.

If this is simply not possible, you may want to hire a professional mediator or an attorney. If you decide to retain legal counsel, remember to bring three things to the first meeting with your lawyer so you can assess what you will need once separated: a balance sheet listing the family’s assets and debts, an accounting sheet of your income and expenses, and your tax return.

10. Don’t Increase Your Debt

Divorce is expensive. On top of attorney’s fees, you will need money to set up a new household. Though it may be difficult to make ends meet, you should get used to having less now. Remember, your legal bills and court costs may come due before you receive your first payment of alimony or even your share of the marital property. While it may seem stressful, the freedom you’ll enjoy down the line will be well worth the struggle.

One Final Note

Putting aside strong emotions in favor of cooperating with your spouse and managing the thornier issues of your separation with a calm and level head will definitely pay off in the long run. Both of you will make wiser decisions and come out of the process with fewer bruises.

What is Divorce Law?

People Who Experienced Parental Divorce as Children Have Lower 'Love  Hormone' Levels than Those Who Did Not | Media and Public Relations |  Baylor University

Divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” is the legal termination of the marital relationship. The divorce process is handled by family law attorneys (each estranged spouse retains his or her own counsel) and involves a number of issues, ranging from division of property to child custody. While it’s important to hire a lawyer who is skilled at your economic and other interests in a divorce, it is crucial to find an attorney with whom you feel comfortable on a personal level. Divorce is an intensely emotional process, requiring delicate people skills in addition to legal know-now.

It may make sense to complete a divorce without hiring a lawyer in some limited cases, as long as neither party has representation and there are no minor children involved (FindLaw sells do-it-yourself divorce packages). But most divorces, particularly those involving dependent children and/or complicated property issues, go more favorably with the counsel of a divorce attorney. And if your estranged spouse has an attorney, it’s always wise to hire one yourself.

Terms to Know

  • Custody: Having rights to your child. Custody can be either legal, which means that you have the right to make important decisions about your child’s welfare, or physical, which means that the child lives with and is raised by you.
  • Prenuptial Agreement: An agreement made between a man and a woman before marrying in which they give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.
  • Stipulation: An agreement entered into by the divorcing spouses that settles the issues between them and is often entered into the court’s final order or judgment and decree.

Issues Involved in a Divorce

At its most basic, a divorce is a legal process by which two parties terminate their legal and financial relationship. But each divorce is unique and most involve disputes over things like child custody or division of property. Here are the main issues a divorce attorney deals with (see also, Checklist: Issues to Discuss with Your Divorce Attorney):

  • Division of Property: All property acquired by either spouse after the marriage date is considered “marital property” and is subject to equitable division. See FindLaw’s Guide to Divorce and Property Division (PDF) to learn more.
  • Alimony: Alimony, or spousal support, is monthly payment made by one spouse to another in accordance to either a settlement agreement or court order. Alimony is meant to correct for any unfair economic effects of a divorce. See FindLaw’s Guide to Spousal Support (PDF) to learn more.
  • Child Support: Child support is a monthly payment made by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent to be spent on the child’s needs. See FindLaw’s Guide to Getting Child Support (PDF) to learn more.
  • Child Custody: When a family splits up, the parents and the court must decide what is best for the minor children, including where they will live and how decisions are made. This is often the most difficult part of the divorce proceedings. See FindLaw’s Guide to Child Custody (PDF) for more information.