New Zealand Law Society - Looking after your clients

Looking after your clients

The Rules of Conduct and Client Care set out the standards of client care lawyers are expected to maintain in their dealings with clients. If you do not fulfil these expectation, a client is entitled to lay a complaint.

You can do a number of things to ensure your client care is up to standard:

  • Keep in touch with your clients and communicate well.
  • Develop a thorough letter of engagement.
  • Advise your client when any estimate provided for fees is reached or if anything unusual develops.
  • Where appropriate, copy all correspondence to clients and confirm telephone advice by letter.
  • Keep accurate and full notes on the file.
  • Return phone calls promptly. If you are unable to respond early, a support staff member can be asked to telephone the client to explain the reason for your non-response and when you will be available.
  • Promptly lodge, on interest bearing deposit, any funds received.
  • As a partner or director, ensure you are aware what your fellow partners or directors and employees are doing. Incoming communications, such as emails, letters, faxes and deliveries should be monitored and mail opening ought to be supervised at partner level.
  • Put in place and monitor separation of duties such as opening the mail and banking. The Law Society inspectorate can advise further in this regard.
  • Respond fully and quickly if a client appears dissatisfied to prevent the matter from escalating. All firms are required to have an in-house complaints procedure for dealing with complaints. If this system works effectively, dissatisfaction can be resolved before becoming a formal complaint to the complaints service. In many situations it is preferable for a complaint to be resolved in-house.
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