Earning your clients’ trust is difficult enough. The more time and resources you have to spend marketing yourself to earn business, the less time and resources you have to tend to your existing clients—that’s where client retention comes in.

Spending more time managing the clients you already have pays off when you retain their business. Happy clients are more likely to stick around and hire you for future work. They may even refer you to others in their network.

This can be a huge boon for your firm, especially when a particular client is well-established in a network or industry that aligns closely with your area of practice.

Take, for example, Renee Thompson, a mediator and civil litigator working from Ocala, Florida, where she focuses on mediation, litigation, and equine law. When it comes to practicing equine law, working with the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar has helped her make connections that align with a very specific area of practice.

Finding the right client is a skill in itself, but it also begs the question: What factors into earning yourself a happy client—and reaping the rewards of better client retention?

Do great work

To earn your client’s satisfaction, your substantive work product needs to be terrific—terrific enough, even, to delight your clients, regardless of outcome. Of course, it’s even better if you can get your client her hoped-for result.

In a highly competitive legal marketplace, populated by hungry rivals and smart consumers, substandard work just won’t cut it. But, in some cases, a client’s ideal outcomes aren’t always possible, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So, protect yourself from a situation where you’re doing good work but not getting the preferred result by following our next step.

Plan for negative outcomes

In addition to achieving those good results, you need to be able to withstand bad, or unexpected, results. This starts with an honest conversation about the nature of legal work (you can’t win every time) coupled with an open discussion on the merits of the particular case (every claim has specific strengths and weaknesses).

It’s one thing to have a client sign off on the fact that you can’t guarantee results; it’s another thing entirely to communicate that idea in light of their specific claim.

It’s a tightrope to walk, certainly. But, the better you can prepare your client for a potentially adverse result, the easier it will be to manage, should one arise.

And, if you win, well, you look even better than you would have otherwise.