Managing Client Expectations: Don’t Be Afraid to Say No!

Too many attorneys think that they must take or respond to every phone call, meeting, and email that they receive from clients. These attorneys make the mistake of equating good service with being available to clients 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. Unfortunately, this strategy can backfire by reducing the lawyer’s productivity and creating an expectation that every communication will be answered at the client’s whim. To avoid this problem, set boundaries and do not be afraid to say no to unscheduled communications. Incorporate this policy into attorney marketing materials to ensure that the client is clear on the policy from the beginning of representation.


The key to managing client expectations is to be open about the law firm’s policies up front. For example, consider incorporating the following into the lawyer marketing materials:


  • If unscheduled phone calls are distracting, state that clients should contact an assistant or send an email requesting a time to talk.

  • If the attorneys are not available on weekends, be clear about what constitutes regular working hours.

  • If you do not accept walk-in meetings, communicate clearly that meetings are strictly by appointment only.


In addition to clearly stated policies, expectations are more effectively managed by explaining why the attorney is saying “no” to certain actions. By explaining the reasons behind the policy in a manner that benefits the client, he is less likely to become frustrated or upset when the policy is enforced. The client comes to understand that the policy actually helps improve his legal representation, potentially resulting in more favorable results.


In addition to providing engaging, informative, and unique content, attorney marketing strategies should also establish clear expectations and boundaries with potential clients. Even if the policy makes the attorney less readily available, the client’s overall satisfaction with the firm’s performance is likely to be higher when expectations were effectively managed from the start.


The experts at Great Legal Marketing can assist your firm in managing client expectations as part of the overall law firm marketing strategy. Fill out our online form or call our office at 703-591-9829 for more information.

Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.