1. Return all calls within 24 hours.
2. Prioritize work according to need. Existing clients are always on top of the pile.
3. Anything that can be delegated, especially income generating delegation, should be delegated first to free up time to focus on nondelegable tasks.
4. Overestimate the turnaround time and deliver quicker. Under promise and over deliver.
5. If the cost is not determinable, estimate high and deliver less expensively.
6. Always have a signed retainer before beginning work.
7. Check receivables each month and set aside time to call for due amounts. Its easier to get paid for work done than to get new work and go through the same process.
8. Always give fee quote/estimate and put in writing before beginning. 90% of client disputes are about fees because the lawyer was not clear about them before commencing. Everything in writing, no matter what.
9. When you make a mistake (inevitable), apologize immediately and see how you can make amends. Sometimes you have to write off or reduce a bill because its the right thing to do.
10. Whenever possible, have direct contact (phone or in person) rather than via e mail and messages.
11. Communicate. Over communicate. Before beginning anything, lay out what you're going to do in writing and get the clients approval in writing.
12. Find out where the client came from and send a written note thanking the referral source every time.
13. Take referral sources to lunch, dinner. Find something to like and enjoy about them. They will make you successful and help you have a good life.
14. Be guided by what the client wants, not by what you think the client needs. Ask lots of questions to get clear about the clients objectives. It is amazing how valuable and appreciated we are when we just listen.
15. Describe the choices and help the client make the choice he or she will be happy with.
16. If there is anything you are not comfortable with, don't do it! If the client is going to do something illegal or unethical, resign in writing politely.
17. Talk about fees and costs. don't be shy. Shyness and lawyering doesn't mix. The clients need leaders, people who take responsibility and stick their necks out for the greater good of the situation or client.
18. Ask for help. Always run stuff by colleagues, people you respect. We all do it. We all need help. don't be right. Be a good student.
19. Enjoy time with clients. Thats the best part. Be available to them. Ask how their weekend was, their vacation, etc. Be respectful of their time, but get to know them. They want a connection with you. And when you have it, you have more fun and feel even better about helping them.
20. Become extremely efficient. Develop expertise and do that stuff over and over. Develop forms and price the products at or below market rate. Get away from purely time based billing. It scares clients and undervalues you.
21. Be careful about multitasking. The idea is usually an illusion and results in half ass work all around. Give each client your full attention.
22. Do not allow phone conferences to interfere with your productivity. Have them calendared at reasonable intervals. If you take each call as it comes in, you may not get anything else done that needs to be done.
23. Communicate with support staff to help them understand what support you need. They don't know unless you tell them.
24. Slower is always better. Like driving, most mistakes are speed related. Slow down. don't let anything out of the office (including e mails) until you're ready, even if the client is impatient. And if they're impatient, see if you created an unrealistic expectation.
25. If a client gets angry with you, just listen. Then let's discuss to see if there is some responsibility you may have for the situation and how to improve things. The point is not perfection. Doesn't exist. The point is to be great students of everything around us, including our clients.
26. The best show of gratitude to clients is great service at a reasonable price with a humble attitude.
27. Develop support systems, especially for memory. For instance, leave yourself messages. E mail yourself and support staff.
28. Approach it like fishing: always have one line in the water, while you're reeling one in and baiting a hook. If you're not doing income producing work, then do marketing. Write an article. Set up a speaking engagement. Go to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Research places to place firm ads. Develop an ad. Improve the website. Get excited about all the business out there that doesn't know you exist yet. When they know you, they will want to hire you.
29. Remember that clients make lawyers lawyers. Without them, we are just people with law degrees. With them, we are given the trust and respect necessary to help and have an amazing life. They bestow on each of us a privilege because of trust and respect. And we earn it by following our own best practices, whatever they may be.
We are on your side, part of your team and committed to creating sustainable, win-win relationships