Best Practices to Get Your Clients Talking


– Do not look at a client’s questionnaire until you have established rapport and trust.

– Take notes on a yellow pad, not a computer.

– Have tissues and water in reach of the clients.

– Plants make people feel calmer – green your office!

– Never ask “WHY” – it puts people on the defensive.

– Do not express judgement. If you feel judgmental ask “Can you tell me more about that?”

– If anyone accuses someone of being a liar, calmly explain that you are not trying to find out the truth, but you are   interested in everyone’s perspective on what happened.

– Don’t take things at face value. Ask more questions. Dig deeper.

The First 30 Minutes of an Intake Meeting:

– Thank the client for hiring you. Ask them what will make a terrific client experience for them. Often, they are stumped, so ask them – what drives you crazy about working with lawyers/financial advisors/accountants/bankers? They will give you an earful.

– Explain duties owed to clients – competence, confidentially and loyalty. Signal to them that what they say to you is confidential. Restrain them from saying things they don’t want the co-client to know. I always say “don’t tell me about those secret babies or the money under the floorboards unless you really want your spouse to know.”

– Set the tone to diffuse outbursts. “This might be upsetting, you might feel angry, let’s acknowledge that this might be hard and agree that we will not engage in inappropriate displays of anger.”

– Ask what specifically they would like to cover, and either tell them “That is part of my agenda and we will cover that” or “Let me add that as a note on my agenda and we will cover that.” You want them to tell you their stories, but within the framework of your agenda – make notes on your agenda regarding questions and address them where it makes sense.

– Ask if they have experience with this area of the law or been close to someone who had experience – what are their perceptions/expectation?

– Have they had discussions/made decisions or is this the beginning of the journey?

– Tell them your expectations for them: honesty, timely responses, communication.

Softball Questions to Build Momentum and Trust – you will find points of connection here:

– Where do you work/what do you do?

– Do you have pets?

– Tell me about your family.

– Any hobbies or affiliations (club, church, networking, school, etc.)

Published in AAC, Best Practices, Professional