Communication with Clients: Adjust as Necessary

Communication with Clients: Adjust as Necessary

Regardless of the practice area, many attorneys are now facing the dilemma of losing track of their clients. The pandemic, and most recently wildfires on the West Coast, has upended many people’s lives. Clients may have moved or changed their phone number, or even become homeless with limited or no access to phone or internet, making it difficult if not impossible to track them down.

Compliance with our duty to maintain communication with clients requires lawyers to keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information. ORPC 1.4. The failure to communicate with clients can also risk violation of other ethical duties, such as competence (ORPC 1.1) and diligence (ORPC 1.3). Yet the first step is establishing available avenues of communication with the client. See below for tips on how to hopefully avoid losing track of your client and how to maintain communication with the client throughout the representation.


  1. Gather client contact information. Gather all possible means of communicating with clients. This includes not just your client’s mailing addresses(s), phone number(s), and email addresses(s), but also contact information for other people the client has agreed to allow you to contact if necessary, such as a spouse, partner, relative, or friend. Also, if available, determine whether clients are willing to provide you with contact information for anyone they have deemed as their power of attorney or personal representative if they become incapacitated or pass away during representation.

  2. Identify clients’ preferred communication. Identify your clients’ preferred method of communication. It often depends on their level of comfort with certain types of technology. Aside from letters, phone calls, or emails, clients may feel comfortable using a client portal. Many clients now prefer texting to other forms of communication. While texting may not be ideal for more in-depth conversations, it can be helpful for straightforward questions and answers, for appointment reminders, and for notifying clients about things like hearing postponements. Some texting applications to consider include WhatsApp and Signal. See our recent presentation for how to utilize technology for additional communication options.

  3. Provide your contact information. Make sure that clients know the best way to reach you, and make yourself easily available to clients.

    1. Record a clear voicemail specifying how best to reach you.

    2. Create a description of your office circumstances under your email signature line and on your website so clients know your availability and how best to reach you and your staff.

    3. Consider putting in place a succession plan in case something happens to you or a family member, making you unable to continue providing representation. See our publication about succession planning for more information.

  4. Ask clients for updates. Ask clients to contact you immediately if any of their information changes. It may seem intuitive to us that clients would do this, but that isn’t always the case, especially when people are faced with a crisis. Reminding them of the importance of keeping in touch with their attorney can go a long way.

  5. Docket regular times for follow-up with clients.  You are less likely to lose track of clients if you’re able to follow up with them on a regular basis and get updated contact information if necessary. Provide a general status update about their case. See our sample Client Status Report. Include in these updates a description of how the pandemic or any other issues may affect their case. See our resource for information on how to access updates from the court about court closures, delays, and other changes in the court system.

  6. Track down a client. If you reach a point where you think you may have outdated contact information for a client and you need to contact them, consider using a people search app such as Accurint to track them down if necessary. Look for other options here. You might even consider hiring a private investigator if no other options have worked. 

Although losing track of clients may happen regardless of the steps you take, especially given the difficult circumstances many people are currently facing, you can put certain steps into place that will help lessen the chances you will lose track of a client.


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