A recent survey posted on Law.com states that malpractice claims have been on the rise in 2011 growing from 11% to 20%.

Of the many claims that insurance agencies have been receiving this year, real estate practices have been sued the most; this is thanks in part to contracts on the large volume of homes sold between 2005 and 2008. Law firms themselves also saw a rise in malpractice claims as claims of concealed information and misrepresentation in cases such as bankruptcy and flawed contracts.

Of the law firms being sued, some are also fighting back to obtain un-paid fees. Michele Wade, Executive Vice President of Lockton Cos., states, “In this economy, law firms are not getting paid. Their collections are way down and they tend to want to sue their client for fees more aggressively than in a good economy.”

Trying times remind law firms how important constant client communication is. Maintaining contact throughout the lifecycle of the relationship reduces the chances of miscommunication, which in most cases is the main reason for malpractice claims.

Remember the First Contact
First impressions last a lifetime; whether it be a friendly smile (or lack thereof) from the receptionist at the front desk, the amount of time taken to answer telephones, or your tone of voice at the point of initial contact. It is imperative that your law firms make a positive impact on the potential client.

Respond in a timely matter
Clients in any industry appreciate timely responses. In most cases, the reason they’ve come to you is because they need your services immediately. They don’t know how busy you are, they don’t know how many cases you’re working on, and frankly – they don’t care. It is crucial that you respond to all inquiries and quickly as possible.

Provide Frequent Updates on Progress
Consistently updating clients on the progress of their cases reduces uncertainty and anxiety and will ultimately help to build trust with clients. Though the case may be progressing slowly, contact them frequently to put their mind at ease.

Create Scheduled Touchpoints with Client
Remembering to contact all clients frequently may be a bit of a challenge; it is wise to develop a Touchpoint Calendar for yourself. Schedule blocks of time on specific days to contact your clients; update them on the progress of their case or simply chat for a few minutes to give them piece of mind.

Obtain Feedback
Obtain valued feedback from your clients and use their constructive criticism to your advantage. Realize that through their advice, you can become an even better lawyer.

Though your law firm cannot predict the economy, nor can you deter the inevitable, your law firm can take the steps necessary to become less of a target for malpractice claims.

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