Managing Client Expectations When Their Outcome Is Uncertain

Managing Client Expectations When Their Outcome Is Uncertain

Managing a clients’ expectations can be hard, but it’s necessary. In this article, we will go over things to consider when managing client expectations.


It’s always ideal to get a good outcome for your client. However, it’s not always reality. Managing a clients’ expectations can be hard, but it’s necessary. In this article, we will go over things to consider when managing client expectations.

Help Your Client Understand the Situation

It’s your job to know all the ins and outs of your clients legal situations, but making sure they are knowledgeable is just as important when it comes to managing expectations. You never know what they know until you talk about it. Walk them through their case, and take the time to listen to their questions. Limiting surprises will help both of you.

Discuss the Process

Letting your client “in” on your approach to their legal situation is a great opportunity to expel assumptions or currently-held knowledge that may be incorrect. On top of your ethical obligation, it also allows for your client to ask you questions, giving you an opportunity to dispel any misconceptions about the case or area of law in general. This further builds trust in your method.

Let Them Know All Possible Outcomes

Even if you believe there’s a good outcome in store, preparing your client for all possible outcomes is responsible and considerate. Good or bad, being transparent upfront about their situation and setting realistic expectations will help them to contextualize the outcome in the end. 

Ask Several Questions

You’ll already be asking questions about your clients’ legal situation, but asking them questions related to their outlook will give you important insight into their expectations and how they think about the case in general. It’s important to clients to know that you understand not only the applicable legal situation, but also what it means to them.

Continuously Redirect Their Expectations

Do not assume your client will understand events as they unfold. Touch base with them to understand how their moods and emotions might have changed. This is not just about being considerate, but about taking control of your client to better represent them.

Personalize the Experience

The process of representing a client involves a great deal of legal and interpersonal knowledge. A good outcome is never guaranteed, but a good process can be. Your client relies on you entirely. Respect that responsibility by making sure you are who they need you to be - a trustworthy, empathetic legal advocate.