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The 3 best tips to better communication with your personal injury lawyer

By Daniel Amos

According to the California State Bar, the No. 1 reason that clients file complaints against their lawyers is their lawyers failure to communicate.

The State Bar website indicates: “Attorneys who practice law in California must adhere to ethical standards. Consumers should expect their attorneys to be both professional and ethical when handling their legal problems.” And legal clients, like anyone else, become upset when their lawyer won’t call them back, won’t return their emails, or otherwise won’t communicate.

Here are my 3 best tips on how to establish great communication with your personal injury lawyer. Using these strategies will assist both lawyers and clients to respond more quickly using their preferred methods of communication.

Tip #1: Ask the personal injury lawyer how they usually communicate with clients.

You can't assume that the personal injury lawyer you are thinking of hiring is going to use the same methods of communication that you typically use. You need to ask the lawyer about this before you hire them. In fact, you should also ask their secretary or assistant this same question, if they utilize one. This way you will know what to expect.

You are probably not going to be able to change the way any particular personal injury or their office does business. For example, if all their communication is by telephone and you don’t like doing business like that, then that particular personal injury lawyer might not be the best fit for you. So be sure to ask how they normally communicate with their clients before you hire them!

Tip #2: Tell the personal injury lawyer how you like to communicate.

  • Do you like to receive a text?
  • Do you prefer What’s App?
  • Do you like to receive an email?
  • Do you prefer to get a phone call?
  • Do you want an actual hard copy mailed to you?
  • Is there some other method that works for you?

It’s important for your personal injury lawyer to know how to best serve your needs. Most lawyers are not mind-readers, so you need to tell them upfront how you like to communicate. This will help set up a working relationship that will work well and lead to success. Tell your personal injury lawyer the specific ways you want to communicate with them, and also tell them the ways you do not want to communicate with them. Then, test it! If you are told it’s okay to text them, then send them a test and see how long it takes to get a response. Or call them and see how long it takes to get a return call. It is very important to see how your connection is going to be before you hire your personal injury lawyer.

Tip #3: Ask the personal injury lawyer how often you will hear from them.

Some people want to know everything that’s going on in her case. They like updates every week or every couple of weeks. Some clients don’t want to be bothered by their personal injury lawyer or know anything that’s going on in the case.

A typical complaint from a personal injury client is that after they signed up with their lawyer, they never heard from anyone until they were contacted and told their case was about to be settled. That should never happen. You must coordinate the way you are going to communicate with your personal injury lawyer, and how often you expect to communicate with them before you hire them. That will set you up for success!

Here are a few thoughts about some of the different ways we communicate:

In-person: I tell all my Higher Legal clients to meet their personal injury lawyer in person, face to face before they hire them. It’s really important to see someone and see their office setting and to get “a feel for them” and what you are getting into before you sign up. Trust your gut. See them, ask your important questions, and if you feel they are the right fit, then your subsequent communications can be done in other ways. It may be inconvenient to go and personally meet the lawyer, but it may be the only time you ever meet them in person, so I highly recommend this.

Phone calls: When I started practicing personal injury law in 1985 phone calls and the U.S. Mail were virtually the only ways clients and lawyers could communicate. Things have really changed, for the better. In my opinion, phone calls are generally NOT a very good way to communicate with your lawyer because nothing is really documented. I have heard too many clients say, “I told him when we spoke by phone to blah, blah, blah,” but the lawyer insists nothing like that was ever even discussed. It’s a recipe for disastrous communication. It also usually takes too long to connect by phone because you often trade calls back and forth before you actually speak. Many times a client will end up only speaking by phone with a clerk, paralegal, or other office staff and they feel their lawyer does not care about them. So phone calls are not my favorite.

Email: Email is my favorite way for my Higher Legal clients to communicate with their lawyers. Email allows you to say as much as you want, without character limitations. It allows you to send your full message and the date and exact time are documented. It also allows you to send attachments and photos. All of this allows for great and specific communication. It also allows you to copy other people like a legal secretary, associate lawyer, law clerk or another person who you feel needs to know what you are communicating. [be careful here with the attorney-client privilege] It creates a great record and also allows you to see how long it takes for someone to respond. Emails received from clients are typically kept by lawyers in a client's virtual or electronic file, just like written letters are kept in hardcopy files. I highly recommend email for communication between you and your personal injury lawyer.

Text: There are some good reasons to use texting to communicate with your personal injury lawyer. According to research by the Pew Research Center, 31% of people with smartphones prefer texting to calling. Many working clients prefer to receive a text instead of a call during business hours. Texting is fast, easy, creates a record, and allows you to send photos, such as of your injuries, the accident scene, etc. Texts also can include audio messages. And most texts are opened and viewed much sooner than emails or other means of communication. There are even texting software systems that many personal injury lawyers now use as part of their client information systems to improve the client's experience with their law firms.

Zoom and Google Meet: In addition to the forms of communication mentioned above, and other written forms, there are also many new ways we communicate “face to face” in our post-pandemic world. Zoom and Google Meet have become a normal part of our society and are used for business, social, and every other type of meeting. These can be good methods to communicate with your personal injury lawyer, but be sure to request that your communications be recorded so you can review them later, make notes, store them and use them to follow up with your personal injury lawyer.

If you have read my other blog posts you know I believe the best way to find a personal injury lawyer is through a certified lawyer referral service like Higher Legal (LRS#130).

Communication is one way Higher Legal can help you. We can help you communicate your personal preferences to the potential personal injury lawyers you are thinking of hiring, and to their staff, in order to create the best possible relationship for you.

If you hire your personal injury lawyer through one of the big legal lead generation companies that advertise, will they help you set up the best possible communication with your personal injury lawyer? Probably not. But at Higher Legal, I will personally provide that service to you.

My goal at Higher Legal is to help you find the right personal injury lawyer so you can focus on what is most important for you, your recovery. I want you to have a great relationship with the personal injury lawyer you hire.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you need a referral to a great personal injury lawyer, please send me a message and I will get right back to you.

And I hope you will ‘LIKE’ this post and ‘SUBSCRIBE’ to my Higher Legal blog and the Higher Legal YouTube channel. You can help me spread the word to others that help is available to people who are looking for reliable legal information.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel Amos Attorney since 1985 Founder of Higher Legal