Responsiveness, communication vital to client satisfaction
By nature, estate litigation can be an emotional roller-coaster, and having a lawyer walk clients through the process goes a long way to calming their nerves, says Toronto trusts and estates litigator Ian Hull.
Most people are involved in an estate dispute maybe once in their lifetimes, and with the financial stakes high, they need an advocate to help them navigate the unchartered territory, he tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“That starts with providing clients with timely responses to questions and giving them clear explanations of each process," says Hull, co-founding partner of Hull & Hull LLP.
Client service is the thread that weaves through every aspect of the work Hull & Hull does, he says. The firm is so committed to improving client satisfaction levels that twice a year, they step away from the day-to-day and go into retreat mode to reflect on how they can do a better job, Hull points out.
“Everyone is busy, but we know there's value in going offline and looking inward to determine what we’re doing well and where we need to raise the bar,” he says.
Delivering great service also means staying on top of trends in the common law and developments in the academic world that may have an impact on how estate law is practised, Hull explains.
“The number of lawyers in this area has grown considerably in the last five years, so it’s critical to be on the cutting edge of new developments,” he says.
It's something Hull takes seriously, he says, and he devotes much of his “extra-curricular” time to helping clients’ better understand the different aspects of estates, wills, and trusts through various educational channels such as social media and podcasts.
“Depending on the medium — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook — we package information that’s relevant and informative. Sometimes it involves putting together a short video on the fundamentals of estate planning or writing a very technical article for an academic journal,” he says.
Though the firm is larger than some boutiques, Hull says they are able to maintain the personal touch through a collaborative approach that involves having senior lawyers team up with associates to work one-on-one with clients.
“The partner in charge of the file is actively involved at each step along the way, communicating both with the client and counsel. When they hire Ian Hull, they get Ian Hull,” he says.