Clients hate not being able to reach their attorney promptly. And why shouldn't they? They're spending thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on an attorney who works for them, so it makes sense. Fortunately, technology has caught up to client requirements, because the iPhone offers tons of features for customizing the experience of receiving client communications. I use my mobile phone exclusively for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that clients are now mostly texting me instead of calling. Instead of turning your phone off, there are combinations of settings that can be used to make sure that priority calls get through, and non-priority calls do not.
With one exception, I have not had to block any clients. But I personally use "do not disturb" between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. in order to filter calls during my nightly recharge. If it's a client emergency, they will call twice in a row like they would if they get voicemail during the day, and it overrides DND. I also have set each client contact to have a "Work --" prefix in my contacts so they are grouped separately from my personal contacts. It makes it easy to switch between work and personal modes. This saves me from having to get a separate work cell phone. I also have customized my notifications so that I don't get notified of each new email and the app icon is not badged. This saves me from looking at my phone every five minutes when I'm at lunch or something. Meanwhile, texts get through and I can respond unobtrusively unless I am with a different client for lunch. Finally, I will mute group texts so that I don't get inundated with messages, and I have left read receipts on in order for people to see when I saw their message. I also turned off notification previews on the lock screen so that the racy messages and even photos that I occasionally get do not pop up until I click into the conversation. This is a professional phone that I also use for personal matters, so it's important to control the experience and not get into any embarrassing situations in front of clients.
All client calls, texts, and emails should be responded to within two hours, and must be answered within 24 hours, if not earlier. During the day I will respond nearly instantly, depending on where I am. At the office, I really make every effort to answer questions as soon as possible. This has resulted in us advertising that we have the best responsiveness of any attorney in the Bay Area...a fact not lost on our clients when they are leaving Yelp reviews about how we are always reachable. I'm very proud of that, because the number one complaint about attorneys is their failure to return calls.
Last updated: July 6, 2018
© 2018 Andrew G. Watters