Setting Boundaries for Client Communication

Just because there are 24 hours in a day doesn’t mean that you have to be accessible to clients for all of them. In the era of cell phones and 24/7 access, Guest Blogger Karen Thalacker has some suggestions to help you set your own boundaries.



Are you answering a client’s email while you’re at a movie with your significant other or emailing opposing counsel when you’re at your child’s ball game?

In the old days, we didn’t have cell phones or email so there was a natural boundary between work and home.  Because cell phones and email are blurring that boundary, be honest with yourself about the negative impact it could be having on you and your family.

Here are 3 suggestions for how to break the habit of checking your email when you should be checked into your personal life:

  1. In your initial meeting with clients, tell them that unless it’s an emergency you are not going to be responding to email after 5 or 6 pm.
  2. Try turning off your phone at home. If that idea scares you, start doing it in 15 minute increments. Enjoy being fully present in what is happening around you.
  3. Listen if someone you love tells you that you’re on your phone too much. What they may really be saying is that they feel ignored and resentful.

Even though cell phones are an integral part of our law practices, be mindful of the boundary between work and home.

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Authored by:

Karen is a graduate of Wartburg College in Waverly, IA, and Drake University Law School in Des Moines, IA. She began her legal career as a prosecutor before entering private practice. For over 20 years, her practice has focused on family law and general practice. Karen is trained in Collaborative Law and also acts as a parenting coordinator for high conflict parents. Since 2009, Karen has served as a judicial magistrate in Iowa. She is also the Chief Compliance Officer and pre-law advisor at Wartburg College. Karen is the author of “The New Lawyer’s Handbook: 101 Things They Don’t Teach You in Law School” and also two knitting books for children. Her commentaries and guest opinions have appeared in the Huffington Post and the Des Moines Register. She and her husband Pete have 4 children.