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How To Break Bad News to Your Client

How To Break Bad News to Your Client


How To Break Bad News to Your Client

Lawyers find themselves in situations (like doctors) where they are constrained to deliver bad news to their clients. This tough task becomes even tougher if you are unaware of the best approach to deliver the bad news. Be sure to do the ground work before you break the bad news. Here are some tips that will help you ease this daunting task and deliver bad news effectively.

Choose the right medium of communication

The medium that you choose to deliver the bad news is very important. As far as possible, avoid e-mail messages or voice mails. Unless you share a very good relationship with your client, it is always best to avoid a face to face situation. Telephone communication is the most popular medium that is seen used to deliver bad news to client. However, if you are confident enough, you can choose to meet the client in person.

Don’t delay, deliver the news upfront

Colin Powell once said, ‘Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.’ Make sure you are the first to deliver the bad news to the client. Avoid possibilities for the client to know of the outcome via media or other sources. Make the client aware of the true situations. This will help you and your client save time to find possible solutions. Don’t wait for things to get worse with time.

Be prepared to provide viable solutions

Before you communicate bad news to a client, arm yourself with possible solutions to tackle the issue. For example, if you lost a motion, you can gain your client’s confidence by presenting options to move forward with the case. Therefore, plan and think of viable recommendations to solve the issue that led to the bad news.

Be clear in you communication

Avoid legal jargon and communicate in a simple and clear manner to the client. Be straight.

Be compassionate

Last but not in any way the least, an empathetic approach that respects the emotions of others is an integral part of communication, especially when it involves the task of communicating a not so good, rather a bad news. It is a fact that people tend to show sudden anger or negative emotions when they hear unpleasant news. In such situations, respect the client’s emotions and give the client the time to regain balance. At the onset of the conversation make it clear that you are well aware of their situations. There may be cases where you might have lost the case because the client withheld important information or did not provide the necessary documents. Don’t use this as a venue to blame the client and control your urge to blame the client. The way you handle such situations may decide if the client is going to stick with you or not. Remember, a client that has confidence in you being straight with them, can still be a gold mine for referrals.


About the Author

This article was provided by LegalEase Solutions.  LegalEase is a specialized legal research and writing company serving attorneys, law firms and legal departments across the US and beyond since 2004. For more information, please feel free to contact us at 1(877) 712-8003 or email us.

Full disclosure, Legal Ink Magazine is an affiliate partner with LegalEase Solutions.

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Priyanka Menon
Priyanka Menon


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