Qualifications and Service Standards
Client service is a hallmark of the firms within the USLAW NETWORK. Clients of member firms frequently comment on the exemplary response time and commitment they receive from the USLAW NETWORK member firms.
The Best Practices that all USLAW member firms as asked to abide by include:
1. Use best efforts to provide each of our firm’s clients high quality service that meets or exceeds their expectations.
2. Promptly provide each client with a written engagement letter that clearly sets out the terms and scope of the assignment in clear language. Notify the client in the event of any material change to the engagement. Establish expectations at the outset of an engagement.
3. Identify the lead partner who will assume overall responsibility for the relationship with each client and to ensure the client has access to the members of the team working on its account.
4. Make every effort to understand the unique business or personal circumstances that gave rise to the client’s legal needs, and to understand the business sector in which the client operates. Knowing the law is one thing, but understanding the client’s business is another. Effective client service requires both.
5. Provide the greatest level of service and counsel to clients at all times. If a firm receives a client referral they believe could be better handled by another member firm or outside the NETWORK, inform the client.
6. Establish a procedure for measuring client satisfaction. Interview clients post-case or matter to review the level of service they received and measure satisfaction.
AVAILABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY
7. Strive to provide optimal coverage and prompt communication access for clients at all times, making available to the client all attorney contact details, including direct-dial telephone numbers, mobile phone numbers, and email addresses. Also, ensure accessibility to clients based on the expectations set at the outset of the engagement.
8. Have each member of the legal team working on a client’s account supported by a back-up procedure designed to avoid any unexpected absence or unavailability of that legal team member.
RESPONSIVENESS AND TIMING
9. Respond promptly to incoming client communications (as well as client-related communication from a peer USLAW firm) and use best efforts to acknowledge incoming emails and faxes and return emails and telephone calls within three hours.
10. At the outset, establish the client’s timetable for carrying out its instructions or handling its particular case or matter, and provide the client with a realistic delivery time based on the nature of the client’s case and/or request. Employ the best professional efforts to comply with stated delivery times and timetables and inform the client in advance if delivery times cannot be accomplished, as well as furnishing a reason for the delay.
11. If a firm believes a client’s timetable and expectations will compromise its ability to provide a service in accordance with paragraph one above, notify the client and work to find a way to meet its needs.
12. Keep clients informed of the progress in their matters, providing regular status reports and prompt notification of significant developments. If a case or matter is in a stage where there is likely to be little activity for a certain period of time, inform the client when they can expect to next hear from counsel.
13. At the outset of an engagement, establish with clients particular requirements for status reporting, including frequency and format.
14. Endeavor to add value to the clients’ interests and businesses by periodically alerting them to useful and relevant legal developments.
15. Establish and maintain a section on your website that provides details of your firm’s practice and its membership in USLAW.
16. Maintain communication with the member firm originally referring the case or client, and if appropriate, provide that referring member with updates of any significant developments in the relationship with the client, and updates on the work in progress and status of the file.
17. Treat every client with the utmost care and respect, treating each and every referred client with world class service and responsiveness.
18. If appropriate, provide the client with copies of all substantive communications and attachments transmitted to other parties.
19. Put the name of your firm, and all contact information, in the footer of emails and other communications.
20. Use Outlook tasks to set up reminders for standards of practice implementation.
BILLING AND FEES
21. With respect to billing, adhere first and foremost to your jurisdiction’s Code of Professional Responsibility.
22. Provide time and fee records in accordance with a client’s needs and requests.
23. Adhere to the billing policies of referred clients, providing invoices with the frequency, detail, and in the format requested by the client.
24. Ensure that all client matters are completed within the budget provided.