Today we offer some specifics about the lawyer’s responsibility in “giving good phone.”
- Give the client your full attention. If you are not able to do that, say so, and reschedule the call for another time. Listening is hard work, and not to be undertaken when you are trying to multitask.
- Ask all the questions you need to ask to get the facts right. Get the context as well—what’s going on in the district? How is this student doing in school? What is the relationship with the family like?
- Don’t pretend to know what you don’t know. Many times the answer to the client’s question is “I don’t know.” Be humble enough to say that, and then figure out a way to get a good answer to the client.
- Sometimes we have second thoughts about the advice we gave. If that’s the case, call back.
- Be precise with the language, making sure you are clear about what MAY be done, what MAY NOT be done, and what MUST be done.
- Be prepared to provide the authority that supports your advice.
- Remember that you are not making the decision about what to do. You are advising about legal requirements and risk, so that the client can make the decision.
- When discussing risk, remember that there are two kinds. There is the risk of getting challenged legally, and then there is the risk of that challenge having merit. Be clear about this distinction.
- Keep track of your time and charge the client for your time in accordance with the agreement with the client.
- Be grateful for your client! Because your client called, you get to do the kind of professional work you want to do. How cool is that?!
DAWG BONE: WE LAWYERS ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE.
Tomorrow: more telephone tips…..