Cupcakes, Attorneys, and Happy Clients

Cupcakes have been around a long time, but the kinds of cupcakes we have today are not the ones I had as a child.  Today’s cupcakes are an art, a trend, an industry.  Despite the  phenomenon, what makes cupcakes really yummy has not changed very much.  The most basic ingredients are the same whether the cupcakes are made in grandma’s old kitchen or in the most high end bakery with the finest tools.

The legal industry has undergone its own transformation due to technology. But, good attorneys are a lot like good cupcakes. The basic ingredients are the same as they were decades ago and they are the same on rural Main Street as they are on DC’s First Street.

I am not talking about intelligent, competent representation; let’s say that is a given for the sake of the example.  Studies have shown that your clients’ satisfaction depends more on how they are treated by the attorney and staff than the actual outcome of their legal matter.  I have worked with a lot of attorneys as a freelance paralegal and I have identified three simple C’s as the basic ingredients for making clients happy.  The attorney (and every member of the legal staff) should be:


Clients need to feel like their attorney cares about their legal matter.  The best way to do this is to listen to your clients.  The most pressing legal issue may not be what is keeping your client up at night.  While it is your job to identify and address the legal issues, find out how your client feels about their dilemma.  The few moments it will take to listen your client’s real concern  may be more important and insightful than hours of fact gathering.


Just like any healthy relationship, the attorney/client relationship requires communication.  The problem attorneys run into is that it takes time and time is money.  This is where the legal staff becomes extremely valuable.  Legal staff can keep clients abreast of the progress of their matter.  If nothing is happening with their case at the moment, it is better to communicate that than to keep clients wondering.  Regular communication can be placed on a tickler system just like important deadlines.  Good communication with your clients will also decrease the chances of some types of malpractice.


While you cannot promise your client a definite outcome, you can assure them that you are working for them to the best of your ability and you will do everything possible to represent their interests well.  What is the best way to convey confidence? SMILE! A simple smile reassures your client that you have things under control and you feel confident in your work.

Well, there you have it.  The three C’s for making your clients happy.  It is good old fashioned CRM without the need to learn any new software.

2 Responses to Cupcakes, Attorneys, and Happy Clients
  1. Jamie C.
    February 9, 2012 | 11:10 am

    I really love this article, Misty! I completely agree with you on the three C’s. I think when we look at what makes our own personal relationships with doctors, realtors, dentists, accountants, teachers, and other “hired” professionals we encounter “good,” it’s easy to realize that we find these same characteristics important when we are “the client.” Excellent article and very well articulated. You have a gift with words. I can’t wait to read your next article! ~ Jamie

    • Misty Sheffield
      February 9, 2012 | 4:45 pm

      You make a good point Jamie. The three C’s apply to any profession that offers a service. Thank you!

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Misty L. Sheffield is a freelance paralegal helping solos and small law firms in civil litigation. She has been assisting attorneys for over 12 years. Read More »