Ed discusses the three key areas to address in managing client expectations. 1. When do you find out what clients want? 2. How do you find out what clients want? 3. How do you find out whether you are meeting clients’ expectations?
In most states, strict compliance with trust accounting regulations is required. Where such regulations require a paper trail that includes retaining canceled checks and other features of an older era, lawyers are inadvertently out of compliance. How? Why?
The banking industry has moved on. They are into the electronic age and we have not kept up. For example, few banking institutions, if any, still return canceled checks. They send photocopies and, after a short time, destroy the canceled checks. See the federal Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act.
In August, 2010, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates adopted the new Model Rules for Client Trust Account Records to replace the Model Rules on Financial Recordkeeping, in effect since 1993. The ABA rules now enable lawyers to use electronic tools to comply with Model Rule 1.15 concerning holding clients funds and property.
Check your State rules — not all states have updated their regulations.
Have you ever had problems traveling, making connections or finding that weather is a great excuse to be surly to those you serve? If you’ve ever experienced any of these, or a myriad of other issues facing us when we travel, check out my latest commentary on having been stranded in Manhattan, trying to get home from JFK. While bad weather is a legitimate catalyst for scrambling (as in Chicago), just remember that you’re in the business and know these things happen. Be prepared with a good attitude – your customers need all the help and pleasantness they can get.
Thus, as lawyers, you know that your clients will always be in stress. Make sure that you and your staff are pleasant. It will make the relationship go more smoothly … oh, and yes, they will be far more willing to pay your bills timely! Heed this advice only if you understand that you are in The Business of Law®.
While I was in Yreka, CA, I learned about The State of Jefferson. This was a political movement in the late 1930s. The focus of the movement was to create a new state out of southern Oregon (dissatisfied with the power of northern Oregon) and Northern California (wanting to keep its riches – water) out of the greedy hands of Southern California.
Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, put an end to this effort. The entire effort of everyone was turned to the War … Though I didn’t know about this group, they surfaced again in the early 1960s, if not earlier. It was Pat Brown, the greatest governor (IMHO) California ever had. It was his focus that built the University of California into a powerhouse, and it was he that successfully lead the Feather River project on the ballot. This assured that water from the north would flow into southern California. This brought water for the farmers in the area as well as the growing population. With water connecting the State, there is very little likelihood the two segments will be separated at any time.
But, the State of Jefferson is still a state of mind. There are many folks who would like to see the separation. But there is no consensus. So, it appears to be more of an historical society.
In working with your clients, are you separate from them? Or are you able to create an inseparable bond, as Governor Pat Brown did for the people of California?
We’re in Canyonville, OR, at the Seven Feathers RV Park. This is the best RV park I’ve ever seen … and they claim to be among the top 4 in the country. What a way to end the day.
We were staying in Yreka, CA, using that as a base to commute to Ashland, OR for the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Got to see two great plays, She Loves Me and Twelfth Night. Then, today, my wife said her patience will permit us to stay in one spot only for 3 days. So, we got up and left Yreka.
En route, we developed a flat tire in the trailer. Had to call Good Sam to bail us out. They were great, get us help within the hour. The RV park my wife selected not only is one of the best, but also has a truck and tire facility adjacent to it … the only one open today, July 4th! What a coincidence. They looked at our tire; they believe it was the stem, not the tire … and took care of it. They will even come to the RV Park tomorrow to check it again, making sure the tire pressure holds, before we embark on our next phase of the trip.
That is service! That is caring for the customer … What have you done with your clients lately to compel them to say such things about you? His name and number will go in my book … and should I ever need someone of his skill set anywhere in the State of Oregon, he’s the first one I’ll call. Will your clients and former clients call you before they call anyone else? Will they call you on behalf of their friends and colleagues before they call anyone else? If not, why not? Look inward to address your operations and client management challenges before you look outward … Why waste your money on marketing if you can’t satisfy your clients once they arrive?