For practicing attorneys, regular communication with clients is critical to success. After all, you’ll likely need information from your clients on an ongoing basis to best serve their interests and we all know how crucial good communication is for maintaining relationships, business or otherwise.
Sometimes, though, client communication can be a bigger headache than it should be.
Some attorneys may already know exactly what I’m talking about. Some clients may call or email at all hours of the day, asking for documents or updates to no avail.
If you’re using multiple platforms to download and send the requested documents, satisfying your client’s demands may not be that simple. What’s more, you may be concerned about how secure your communications are – another aspect of communication that requires constant scrutiny.
All these problems and more are solved with a client portal—that is, a secure platform to communicate and share information with clients.
Luckily, client portals aren’t generally something that must be separately acquired from your regular law practice management tools—many of them, such as Thomson Reuters Firm Central, already offer such a feature, along with a significant amount of other time-saving functionality.
The beauty of the client portal is that it is a practice management tool designed to centralize all aspects of your law firm to maximize organization and save time and money.
But a client portal has additional, unique benefits that deserve to be highlighted.
Improving client relations
Lack of effective communication with clients is often cited as one of the most common reasons for ethics complaints against lawyers.
Poor communication with clients can often result in complaints filed against you when they feel as though you’re failing to properly update them on the status of their case matters.
A client portal can allow your clients to feel as connected with their legal matters as they wish.
In Firm Central, for instance, clients can access their own dashboard using a personal login. From this dashboard, clients can access case documents that you make available to them, send and receive messages from you, and view outstanding tasks—that may be created by you as the administrator of the client’s matter—that require the client’s attention.
This portal will make your clients feel far more engaged in their legal matters, leading to a better experience with your law firm overall.
Although a client portal’s ability to save you time was briefly mentioned earlier, it’s important to establish just how this is accomplished, since it may not be clear.
First, sharing documents with clients is literally as easy as pushing a button.
While it may seem a minimal reduction in time spent on a task to not have to locate the requested files on one system before using another to send it, it certainly adds up in the aggregate, and it will save you a substantial amount of time in the long run.
Next, if your clients can access their case files and status on their own, they will become less likely to contact you regularly for such concerns. Meaning, fewer interruptions in your day from clients.
Finally, some firm management platforms such as Firm Central allow users to send forms to their clients for them to complete. These forms can be completed and saved through the client portal itself and your clients can notify you when they are finished.
This means no more hassling with instructions for clients on how to complete your firm’s forms or dealing with forms that were printed out and completed by your clients by hand. The time savings there should be clear.
This can also be beneficial if one of your clients chooses not to show up for meetings or court appearances and you can provide documented proof via the client portal history that they, in fact, were notified and read the communications shared with them through the portal.
In today’s world of ransomware and malware attacks, the security risks associated with various forms of electronic messaging, including email are becoming increasingly apparent.
In short, unless you use one or more of various methods of encryption, emails are a relatively unsecure form of communication.
Although not all ethics standards have reached the point that all attorneys are expected to employ the strongest encryption techniques in communicating with clients, it is nonetheless wise to transition to more secure means of client communications.
Just such a type of communication may be found in a client portal.
Employing a practice management tool that boasts extensive security measures, as Firm Central does, is a superb approach to secure client communications.
Like the rest of the benefits discussed, this increase in security will not only provide palpable advantages to your clients but to your law firm as well.