Does marketing reduce malpractice risk?

Blink suggests that doctors talk 3 minutes longer than other professionals (lawyers) and that doctors are sued less than lawyers. And managing the client experience is marketing. Therefore, marketing lowers lawyers’ risk of malpractice … or so someone suggests!

There are too many hypotheses strung together to reach this conclusion … and they are not consistent. First, assuming that doctors talk longer than lawyers doesn’t mean that what they say effectively manages the clients’ expectations. And managing the client experience, in my opinion, is not marketing … it is being a good professional. Being a good professional may be deemed a form of marketing, but I don’t think so in this context.

And lowering the risk of malpractice is different from lowering the risk of malpractice claims.

Thus, I think it is too far-fetched to suggest that marketing lowers the risk of malpractice or of malpractice claims.

The focus of the conversation between a professional and a client/patient/customer must be to understand the intent and desire and want of the client. Only then can you compare your assessment of his/her need with her/his want. At that stage, if the two are in harmony, and you inform the client (so the client understands clearly) what to expect, there is little likelihood of a malpractice claim. If the two are not in harmony (attorney’s assessment of client need with want of client), and the attorney continues, this is a blueprint for disaster … and an almost sure claim of malpractice OR a refusal to pay the final billing statement from the attorney.

This is not marketing, however. This is effective lawyering … coupled with an appropriate understanding of the client and an agreement between the attorney and the client as to the future course of the matter, and the cost thereof.


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