Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.
In 2014, there were more than 800,000 divorce filings in the United States.
Consequently, there were millions of legal consultations concerning relationships that were in distress.
During the initial consultation between an attorney and a person or couple considering divorce, matrimonial lawyers frequently encounter issues like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental illness, child abuse, infidelity, emotional abuse, psychiatric illnesses and personality disorders.
In addition, clients who are considering divorce often have to talk about loss of assets, visitation, custody, child support, moving, career changes, loss of income, significant legal fees, the end of a long -term relationship and a major change in the family structure.
Furthermore, many clients present with significant amounts of rage,anger, sadness, guilt, depression, anxiety and shame when they meet with a family lawyer.
Seeing a matrimonial lawyer can be an upsetting experience even for a well adjusted individual.
The client can often leave the lawyer’s office feeling frightened, sad, anxious, depressed and devastated.
Recalling the a painful history and a sequence of upsetting events can cause a client to feel worse than when they came to the lawyer’s office.
Interestingly, some psychotherapy patients report feeling worse after their initial consultation because they have recalled, revisited and relived any painful events and anecdotes.
The Importance Of The Lawyer-Client Relationship
Since these kinds of cases can often result in protracted litigation, it is essential that lawyers build a solid relationship with new clients when the process begins.
One Simple Technique Can Help
Fortunately, there is one simple thing that a lawyer can do to help his or her client to feel better and to strengthen the crucial lawyer-client relationship.
A day after the initial consultation, the lawyer should simply call the client and reiterate the fact that the initial meeting can be very upsetting and ask the client how he or she is feeling and if there is anything else that the attorney can do to be helpful in this matter
In addition, this is a good time to remind the client that you are available to answer any questions and your plan is to be as supportive as possible to the client while you act as an assertive advocate for them.
You may want to reassure your client by saying something like this “This may be your first divorce, but I have been through this many times with people just like you and I will help you to manage this stressor as best as I can.”
It can also be a good time to determine if your client can benefit from supportive counseling or psychotherapy.
This follow up call is a lot like the call that a physician may make to a patient after the patient has undergone a medical procedure.
This kind of outreach helps the medical patient or the client to feel that the professional is a human being who genuinely cares about their case, their family and their well being.
Moreover, the client probably does not expect this kind of call. He or she is apt to be pleasantly surprised by hearing from you.
In addition, some potential clients have consults with several attorneys in order to determine whom they feel most comfortable with.
This extra effort is apt to set you, the lawyer, apart from your competitors.
Why Attorneys Don’t Do This Outreach
Many attorneys are quite busy and hyper focused on the facts of their cases. And, sometimes they can overlook the emotional components involved in the practice of family law.
Consequently, they can neglect the importance of their interpersonal connection with their client.
Furthermore, most law schools provide little training in the psychological aspects of practicing law.
Benefits Of The Follow Up Call
This type of empathic communication will help the client to feel good about the attorney and his or her firm. It will also increase the likelihood that the existing client will refer friends and family members to the proactive and concerned attorney.
In short, this is a simple practice building technique with no cost and with a possible large return on your investment of nothing more than spending a little more time with a client.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is Psychotherapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Founder of www.HighNetWorthDivorces.com a directory and referral service for lawyers who handle high net worth cases. His articles have appeared in numerous law journals and he has consulted with more than 1,000 law firms.
If you want to have your firm featured on this site and want to claim the only exclusive listing in your county, call Dr. Granat at 201 647-9191 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.