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Question 1: If a client is unhappy with you, you should no longer directly communicate with that client and have someone else in the office communicate directly with that client for you.
Answer 1: FALSE: Since you started with them you see it all the way through. In fact, in the rare cases where one of the staff gets a major complaint the owner should always intervene to ask what can we do to make this right assuming the complaint is legit. If this becomes a regular or even a semi-regular occurrence with that staff member and assuming you have tight and sensible workflows/systems, then that staff member needs more coaching and if no improvement needs to go. The intervention of the owner on behalf of a staff member to stand up and be involved again is a must yet should rarely if ever happen from an occurrence viewpoint. Yet back to the original question that if a client is unhappy with you, absolutely you should not hide or shy away from taking care of YOUR business and YOUR reputation. People always appreciate that whether they get the answer they wanted or not.
Question 2: When hiring a new staff member and you have your choice narrowed down to two different candidates, if all else is equal, you should choose the candidate with the most legal experience.
Answer 2: FALSE: I believe the question was most legal experience versus understands and fits the mission. Technical knowledge can be taught all day long. Mission/attitude/chemistry is a choice that of not 100% fully bought in will over time erode and cause at best mediocre performance and at worst termination which is lost money and time which equates to more lost money.
Question 3: Owning your office space is always better than paying rent.
Answer 3: TRUE: I built my building with room for growth and even as a landlord and has been by far the best investment into my business ever. I built it with BOTH the client and staff in mind. As a landlord have made a profit and when space was needed I could move a tenant around or out. Ultimately the decision making 100% rests in my hands to allow me to make quick decisions to do what is best for my business. Buying or building or doing creative financing (have the seller hold paper much as a land contract type set-up) is the way to go if that space fits what it is you wish to do and gives you the necessary space for future growth and even to rent so you’re always in the black.
Question 4: When choosing a practice area to build your law firm around you should pick the practice area that you have the most experience with.
Answer 4: FALSE: Although experience is a beautiful thing think about it this way. Coming out of college or law school, what did you have the most experience doing? Being a student, working part time summer jobs, drinking beer and partying, sucking off of Mom & Pop? The point is I would hope that wasn’t your
career choice as that is literally what you had the most experience doing. I know that is a bit extreme, yet it serves the point that over time pick and AOP that fuels your fire, makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning, gives you a reason WHY! And you will own the market in your chosen AOP plus live a happy and fulfilling life as you will be on a journey that has a real meaningful purpose for you and you clients!
Question 5: The best way to get your firm’s policies and procedures documented and written down is to have the members of your staff write them and develop them for you.
Answer 5: TRUE & FALSE. YET, THAT ISN’T AN OPTION SO I WILL GO WITH FALSE: Staff is great and why I hedged my original answer as at some point and at some level their input will be invaluable. YET, it is YOU who has to both understand everything that happens in your office and more importantly write the lyrics, set the tone, and author what it is you want out of the direction of YOUR business. Then AFTER you do that have your staff review and add/tweak for your ultimate approval and you will have the absolute best policies and procedures that will work, be effective, and the staff will feel tremendously empowered that they were able to add/tweak and/or agree. Lastly and as importantly, you always look and encourage your staff to do so too to add sub-systems or improve workflows as technology changes, staff changes, whatever changes that merits always striving to have the best and tightest policies and procedures.
Question 6: If a client is unhappy with you, you should no longer directly communicate with that client and have someone else in the office communicate directly with that client for you.
Answer 6: FALSE: While no lawyer likes to learn that a client is not happy with you, running away from the problem by delegating communications to other is the worst thing you can do. First, when a third party speaks on your behalf, they are inherently disadvantaged, as they will have no firsthand knowledge of what was said or done to which your client raises a complaint. Second, by avoiding the client, you likely inflame the situation. You communicate to the client that their perspective is not important, that their concerns are not your priority, and that their value to you has ended now that they are displeased with you. This perception on their part, however inaccurate it may be, contributes substantially to the number of bar grievances filed. Finally, failing to address the client’s concerns head-on, with a face to face, or if not possible, at least a telephone communication, deprives YOU as the Owner of the opportunity to improve your business. Your clients feedback – both positive and negative – is the best data you have at your disposal to make changes to advance your business or, if the client’s feedback is unwarranted, to avoid allowing your firm to be hired by clients ill-suited to meet the needs of your team.