This is probably the easiest step outside lawyers can take to gain client trust. Whether we represent a corporate defendant in a business or employment dispute, or an individual accused of a crime, every kind of client appreciates being kept up to date. I try to resist the temptation to think that a hearing or filing was too trivial to inform the client. This is especially important with clients for whom lawsuits are not a normal occurrence. Unlike litigation veterans, these newbies are not yet numbed to the sturm und drang of a lawsuit, and like to feel involved at every turn.
Also, I find that if I make it a point to keep my client informed of just about everything that goes on, every development, I am far less likely to let something major slip by–say, the filing of a dispositive motion or a settlement overture–without alerting the client. I’ve found surprises tend to be disfavored.
Unless a case is in front of a judge with some kind of “rocket docket,” there will typically be periods in the life of a case when it gets quiet. Even when this happens, most clients still like to know you’re not asleep at the wheel. One way to let your client know you’re still in the game is to drop a note (i.e., email or even a letter) giving them an “update.” Even if the update is nothing more than a reminder of the next anticipated event in the case, coupled with a brief explanation of its significance, it lets the client know you’re still on the job. A nice way to raise the goodwill quotient is to record the update as a “no charge.” Just an idea.