Internal Client Care Policy
Statement of Commitment:
O’Shea Legal is committed to providing a high standard of professional service to all clients. The firm provides expert accurate and appropriate advice in a cost effective manner. All personnel must act with integrity in all their dealings with clients. Clients will be treated with courtesy and efficiency at all times. The firm is committed to achieving its client care and communications strategy standards at all times.
Clients are entitled to expect a genuine commitment from all personnel in handling their instructions, and for the firm to attach appropriate priority to their requirements. Many client seeking legal advice are vulnerable and in turmoil and will require special care and attention.
The firm will accept instructions only where it can meet its commitment to provision of an expert and professional service to clients. Where instructions would be beyond the expertise of the capability of the firm they will be declined.
The firm is bound by the professional rules which require confidentiality to be maintained in all dealings with clients. The firm will not reveal to any outsider the nature of instructions provided or advice given to any client, other than in the pursuit of the client’s instructions. It is also inappropriate to reveal that the firm is in receipt of instructions from any named client. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you should reveal whether the firm acts for a given client, or give out his/her its address, check with the Principal. Breaches of Confidentiality could cause considerable problems for the firm and will usually be treated by the Principal as a serious disciplinary offence.
Courtesy and Respect:
All clients will be dealt with in a respectful and courteous manner. For example, a client will not be kept waiting in the reception area without explanation, will have their telephone calls and e-mails returned as soon as possible, and generally will have an interest displayed in them and in their problems. Genuine concern for all clients and their difficulties should be demonstrated by all members of staff.
Clients should feel reassured when in attendance in the office. This can be achieved by appropriate behaviour around the office and a smile or a “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” to those clients you encounter in the office. Personnel should be as helpful as possible to all clients of the firm.
Clients should be offered appropriate refreshments, coffee, tea, biscuits, etc. while waiting at reception.
It is important that the firm should at all times project the essence of professionalism in its dealings with clients. First impressions gained by clients are important. All personnel should dress in a manner that is appropriate for a professional practice, and in particular avoid casual clothing.
The reception area of the firm is critical to the first impression that visitors will gain of the firm. The reception area should be clean and tidy and should offer newspaper and/or magazines which are up to date and neatly arranged. The firm’s publicity material should also be made available to clients and floral displays should be kept maintained. Clients who are delayed for more than 10 minutes should be informed of the reasons and should be provided with suitable refreshments and an apology.
The client should be given the best information possible about the likely overall costs, including a breakdown between fees, VAT and disbursements in the Section 68 letter which is included in the “Terms of Engagement”. The client should be advised if there are any alternative methods of meeting costs, such as Legal Aid, Insurance, Pre-purchased costs insurance, or if they could be met by a third party such as an employer or Trade Union. Sometimes the client may be able to avail of the service from an alternative source free of charge or at minimal costs, such as the probate office which provides a personal applicants service or the Ombudsman or Small Claims Court etc.
At the outset of every matter a client should receive a Client Care Letter and the firm’s standard “Terms of Engagement” together with the Law Society Money Laundering leaflet and Law Society Costs leaflet.
As the firm is committed to providing a quality service to clients, all personnel need to pick up on client dissatisfaction when it does arise and address it as best as they can. The firm operates a complaints handling process that seeks to ensure that it knows about client dissatisfaction if and when it does arrive and the firm takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the dissatisfaction is addressed and is sorted out whenever possible and to reassure all clients who do complain that the firm will address their concerns without delay and take its complaints seriously. The client’s complaint procedure is more particularily described at Tab 38. Remember, it is up to 5 times less expensive to keep a client than to develop a new client.
The Terms of Employment Manual of the firm (copy annexed) contains further details of the firm’s expectations of personnel with regard to client care. It is incumbent upon each member of the firm to look for every opportunity to make each client feel special. This commences with the client’s first contact with the office, and with every contact or visit thereafter. Every member of staff must understand that the relationship of a Solicitor and client is a fiduciary relationship –i.e. that the Solicitor and the firm owe the highest duty of care to the client. Every member of staff must have a commitment to deliver. Each member of staff should adhere to the firm’s standards of courtesy, competence, confidentiality and commitment. Failure to follow this policy will be considered serious breach of the conditions of employment and will constitute grounds for dismissal.
First impressions of a client must be good and is therefore important that their enquires are handled quickly and efficiently. Queries must be answered within 24 hours even if only to advise a client that their query is being dealt with.
All appointments must be notified to reception.
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No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or be deemed to exist between O’Shea Legal and you until you have received confirmation in writing from us in which we confirm our appointment as your Solicitors.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
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