Keep your Bum Warm (a.k.a. CYA)

Lawyers provide a service. We do many things including conducting research, advocating for our clients and providing legal opinions. While these services are essential, they are not always welcomed nor are they always appreciated.

Many businesses that are not law firms experience the same issue – you do a good job, but the customer is not happy. This leads to the question: how do I protect my business from an unhappy client or customer?

When it comes to lawyers, individuals often don’t choose to deal with a lawyer until they are required to. This can lead to clients not appreciating the information they are being given or ignoring it altogether. While this is extremely frustrating, difficult clients are a part of the profession.

There is no one way to deal with a difficult client or customer; just as in your personal life, dealing with difficult people varies depending on the person you are interacting with. However, the most important thing for a business to do is to ensure that they protect themselves from liability. For lawyers in particular, this is to protect themselves for situations where their advice is ignored.

Protecting your business is done through a CYA email which stand for, “Cover your assets” well, maybe not the last three letters .

All correspondence between you and your client or customer should be documented. After every phone call especially those where there was a substantive conversation, follow up with an email and outline what you have discussed during your call and reiterate your opinion on the matter if necessary.

Documenting conversations with customers may seem like an obvious tip and something that all businesses and lawyers should be practicing. However, as we have grown accustomed in our personal life to take things at face value, this trait often translates to our business and professional lives as well. As much as we would like to believe that our advice will be adhered to and more so that if this advice is not taken we will not be personally liable this is not always the case.

So do yourself a favour and write a CYA email, otherwise it may be C YA when you need to prove that you did what you said you would do.

Harman S. Toor JD