Clients dislike surprises, especially unpleasant ones. This holds true for small surprises, such as finding out at the last minute that a meeting was rescheduled, and for large surprises, such as finding out that the worst possible jury has just been impaneled for their trial.

Every case has its “surprises” – aka problems; some can be anticipated, others cannot. In your eagerness to maintain credibility and be an effective problem-solver for your clients, you may neglect to inform clients of problems in timely fashion. Inevitably, you then find yourself with the double headache of trying to appease an unpleasantly surprised and irritated client, and of trying to resolve the original problem.

Most clients need and want to be informed about the troublesome aspects of their case. Client-satisfaction surveys show that a primary source of client complaints is that lawyers do not inform them about problems until the problems are so big they can no longer be ignored. To top it off, clients complain that lawyers are unrealistic, usually minimizing problems and overestimating their ability to deal with them quickly and easily.

Diminish the surprise factor by informing your clients of potential problems as soon as you begin working the case. Be upfront with your clients. Do your best to keep them in the loop as much as possible. Hopefully, you’ll avert most of those problems and your clients will be the more satisfied because of it.