A column published in February described what an initial meeting with a planning attorney should be like. Clients really do have a choice and should treat an initial meeting like an interview in evaluating whether or not they want to move forward with that attorney.
This column describes what happens next. Once the interview process has been completed and the clients and attorney have decided to move forward in estate, business or asset protection planning, what do clients deserve from their newly hired attorney?
I have consciously considered this question for some years. For clients who recognize the value of maintaining an ongoing relationship with a planning attorney, I’ve written the following and delivered it to those clients. It’s titled: “My Perfect Clients Will Expect From Me …”
The attorney should:
Maintain and advocate loyalty to their clients and their plans.
Initiate, introduce and implement new concepts and visions directed toward the plans.
Offer the insight to recognize problems and issues ahead of time.
Be trustworthy with what’s most important to clients.
Facilitate the process of developing a vision for their clients’ futures and possess the wisdom to plan for and implement it.
Demonstrate obvious happiness and joy with life and in the presence of clients.
Remain at the top of the estate, business and asset protection planning field through continued education and training and remain willing to readily implement new ideas.
Charge fees that compensate the attorney and clients will feel good about paying.
Provide top-of-the-line and understandable maintenance plans.
Always give clients priority — return telephone calls and e-mails within 24 hours and make urgent work a priority.
Possess the wisdom and resources to find and secure those perfect outside professionals as needed by clients.
Demonstrate honesty in dealings with clients and lean in the clients’ favor when considering the parameters of the attorney client relationship.
Offer a fair refund policy.
Provide the time and attention clients deserve.
Provide an enjoyable office and meeting environment.
Initiate necessary communications and respond to client communications.
Plan and initiate meetings and events.
Be there for clients.
While these concepts fit particularly well with those people seeking long-term most trusted adviser relationships with their attorneys, they’re applicable as well to what might be considered more typical expectations.
Clients spend money to realize the best possible planning under the circumstances. More importantly, clients trust attorneys to provide that in an arena where clients possesses little technical knowledge.
What’s your attorney’s responsibility?