I am behind my self-imposed publishing schedule due to a pesky trial. Some of you remember those things where you work 19 straight days getting ready for trial and it gets continued over your objection. You then get to re-do all of that 4 months later when it is rescheduled – you know, a trial.
So, to refocus, my general aim in these posts is to help lawyers better manage their practices and avoid having claims made against them. Loss prevention is better than claims defense. I present this staff related post not because it is Administrative Assistant Month and Day. By the way, if I ever were to offer free legal advice, do not forget that day for your staff. At least, say thank you.
Unhappy clients often show their displeasure with ethics charges or legal malpractice claims. Attorney at Work, in a Daily Dispatch by Roy Ginsburg, recently highlighted these basics of “customer”/client service:
• Listen to what the client wants.
• Do not delay in doing what the client wants.
• Communicate with the client about the progress.
All of these are just good common sense approaches, but so many in the business and legal worlds do not meet these. Some variation creeps into claims made when you start digging in a deposition.
While in no way covering for any lawyer without these basic skills, I do observe that most lawyers have overflowing plates with their time controlled in part by others. Here you go with my spring pitch – our staff is the key to keeping the greasy side down and the shiny side up. As a lawyer, you must get to the above service components to be successful as a lawyer.
You need people in a law practice that understand these basic service tenets and then you need to let them help manage you and your time. Let go of a little of that ego and get your staff helping you more. The front of your office is fundamental in the happy client world. An intelligent and prompt telephone answer and a professional appearance at the front desk mean a lot for the critical and only first impression. You need to train for these skills and monitor for their quality.
Then good docketing and assistance by staff to recognize deadlines and assist in meeting them allows that busy lawyer to succeed. In the type, send and move on world, more eyes on the subject for more quality assurance help the product. An effective staff team is part of that solution.
Each of the basic service tenants can be enhanced or better delivered with good staff. Never underestimate the value of the time you spend in hiring and training people who can make you look fabulous. That good client result and the timely delivery of what the client wanted may not have happened just based upon your good looks. Develop and celebrate a good staff and you will be a more successful lawyer.