Here are some of my favorite posts.  I hope you enjoy them.


Focus on Quality of Experience

Lots of lawyers claim to be “results-focused.”  Clients want good results, after all, and marketing yourself as one “focused” on delivering them has got to be a lot better  (to clients, anyway) than being “timesheet-focused.”  However, I think  many lawyers who focus only on the result are hurting their clients (and their own practices).  Let me explain:

Most clients get just one “result” in their matter:  it could be a divorce, a home purchase, or a settlement check.  Until that moment — which can take months or years to achieve — they wait.  They get bills.  They attend hearings.  They read letters and go to meetings.  But they don’t know for certain what’s coming in their case until it finally arrives.

So what do clients focus on every day while awaiting their result?  They focus on the quality of their experience:  Does their lawyer return their calls?  Does he validate their parking or give them a hot cup of coffee while they wait in his waiting room?  Does he communicate everything he’s doing on their case and bill them fairly?

And because they don’t have any “results” to share with others, they share their experience instead:

Bill:  ”How’s your case coming?”

Wendy:  ”Not sure.  I’m still hoping to hit the jackpot, but my attorney is an ass and never calls me back.”

So what’s an attorney to do?  Start by focusing on something more than just the quality of your clients’ results.  Focus on their quality of their experience as well.

Here’s how:

1.  Looking at the chart above, realize that for every client, there are two distinct parts of their legal matter:

  • The Quality of their Result (QoR) speaks for itself, and is measured by how satisfied (or unsatisfied) the client is as their matter concludes.  It is the thing most lawyers claim to focus upon, but in certain instances (litigation, for example) is either pre-ordained or out of the control of both attorney and client.
  • The Quality of their Experience (QoE) is the measure of their satisfaction with everything else, including how they feel about their lawyer and the service she provides.

2.  Ask some of your former clients (or pull some old files and do this yourself) to map out on the grid above how they felt about your representation, making certain their “Experience” measure is for everything that came between hiring you and their result.

3.  Unless everything is in the upper right quadrant, get to work.

If you’re a lawyer who delivers a great experience — even with the occasional bad result — you’re likely to see more repeat and referral business from your former clients than some ”results-focused” lawyers who consistently get great results but make their clients miserable in the process.

 

 

 

 

Ten Resolutions for the New Year

As 2008 draws to a close, it is natural to think about New Year’s resolutions.*  We think about our businesses, our clients and ourselves and resolve to do better next year.  If you’d like some help, or just some inspiration, here are Ten Resolutions for the New Year.  Enjoy:

1.  Resolve to be better to everyone.  Start with yourself.

2.  Resolve to choose your customers as carefully as friends, knowing that you’ll work best when they’re one in the same.

3.  Resolve to know your business better.  Recognize that being good at what you do is unimportant if you’re not good at being in the business you’re in.

4.  Resolve to stop doing the things your customers don’t pay you to do, unless you love doing them so much, you’d do them for free.  Because you are.

5.  Resolve to value your life by the things you experience instead of the things you possess.

6.  Resolve to eliminate the things in your life that wake you up in the middle of the night — unless you’re married to them, or they need to go outside for a walk.

7.  Resolve to become more useful to your customers.  Stop thinking about what they expect from you, and focus instead on what they don’t expect from you.

8.  Resolve to help the people who work with you (and for you) become better at what they do.  Give them what they need to excel at their jobs, and you’ll find you’re more likely to excel at yours.

9.  Resolve to understand the difference between what you do for clients and how long you take to do it.  They care about the former, and can’t understand why you charge for the latter.

10.  Resolve to do the work you long to do, instead of the work you’ve been doing for too long.  Follow your passions, honor your principles and strive to add value to every relationship you’re in. “Next Year” begins now.  Get started on making it great!

I’d love your input, and feel free to add your resolutions in the comments.  If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  Ten Rules for Law Students, Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal InnovationTen Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing.

Also, if you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.

*  Thinking about Resolutions for Lawyers is something I’ve been doing for quite some time.  Here are my 30+ resolutions from 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Thank Your Clients This Year

You have just enough time to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients this year.  Why Thanksgiving cards instead of other holiday cards?  Here are a few reasons from this 2008 post:

  1. Thanksgiving is a holiday about giving thanks.  Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to offer your clients a genuine “Thank you for being our client” greeting from the entire firm.  The holiday itself reinforces the message to your clients.  A win-win.
  2. Thanksgiving cards are uncommon.  How many Thanksgiving cards did you get last year?  That’s what I thought.  Your clients don’t get them either.  That’s why yours will stand out.  It is also why yours will be talked about.
  3. Thanksgiving cards have a long shelf life.  Literally.  What do people do with holiday cards?  They display them.  If you send a Thanksgiving card, it will be likely be the first one up on the mantle, and will probably stay there, alone at first, until Christmas card season is done.
  4. Thanksgiving isn’t Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza.  Hate the minefield of picking the right not-too-religious “Happy Holiday” card?  Avoid it all together with a Thanksgiving card.
  5. At Thanksgiving, there’s still time for your clients to do end-of-year work. This is perhaps the least-recognized, yet best reason to send Thanksgiving cards:  they’ll generate more end-of-year business for you.  When you send a Christmas card, it is already too late for most clients to get more legal work done before the new year.  By the time the holiday rush is over, they’ve forgotten what they wanted you to do, and wait probably wait another year.  A Thanksgiving card can give them that subtle prompt when there’s at least a month left before the rest of the holiday’s hit, allowing you to close the year on a high note.

 

Best of NBH: Counting Cards

I’ve always thought the idea from this post was a powerful way to understand the gift of time and what you can accomplish in a year: Resolve to Count Cards, using this this incredibly powerful exercise I first ran across in 2006.  From an article in the now-defunct Worthwhile Magazine (by creativity guru Eric Maisel) comes this…

Resolve to Land a Big Fish

Almost every lawyer has a “big fish” they’d like to land. Whether that fish is an individual client, a corporation, an insurance company or even a great referral source, your big fish isn’t going to catch itself. And what better place to find advice on catching “big fish” than on a website called TakeMeFishing?  Some…

Communicating Value and Price

I’ve been a big fan of Merlin Mann for several years now.  As I was checking out his website yesterday, I found his pricing page cheekily titled: Do You Charge Money to Do Things? Here’s how Merlin describes his pricing scheme: For most all of my speaking, consulting, and advisory work, yes: I do charge…

The (Auto)Complete Lawyer

I ran across a funny list of Google Autocomplete “Fails” and thought I’d see how Google would autocomplete a few legal-related queries. Sadly, the results aren’t very promising for lawyers.  Here are just a few of the results: My lawyer is …  Lawyers are …  My Lawyer Won’t … Perhaps none of this comes as…

Resolve to Count Cards

As 2009 draws to a close, we all find ourselves with lots of stuff on our "to do" lists for the next year.  Whether your thinking about finding time to meet your deadlines, accomplish your goals or even follow your resolutions, there never seems to be enough time to do it all. As you begin…

Ten Rules for Law Students

Over a year ago, I wrote 15 Thoughts for Law Students.  It was one of my first “Rules” posts, though I wasn’t calling them that at the time.  Since then, it has been one of the more popular items on this blog, and was even republished in the Canadian Bar Association magazine.  I’ve revised it…

Resolve To Fix Your Technology Less

This resolution is for nearly every solo and small firm lawyer out there (including those with computer science degrees): Resolve to Fix Your Technology Less. How many times has a quick technology fix turned into a day of un-billable time?  Trust me on this one, no matter how much (or little) work you have, your…

Rethinking Your Firm’s Bills

If your clients designed your bills, what would they look like?  Would they be easier to understand?  Contain useful case status information?  How about upcoming dates or milestones?  Would your bills include information about the people who worked on the case that month?  How about a report card seeking monthly feedback about how you’re serving…

Your Clients Don’t Care Where You Went to Law School

After my Law Firm Website Venn Diagram got such great feedback, I thought I’d do another highlighting one of my big pet peeves: lawyer bios.  Here you go:

Is your website for your clients or for your peers?

Inspired by this venn diagram found on Business Pundit,  I thought I’d do one for Law Firm Websites:

Give Clients More Certainty

Clients crave predictability.  They find comfort in knowing what to expect — especially in stressful situations like the ones you handle for them everyday. But how can you deliver more certainty to your clients?  After all, outcomes are impossible to predict and matters ebb and flow from beginning to end.  You keep your clients “in…

Resolve to De-Confuse Clients

What confuses your clients?  What are the things that your clients never seem to really understand?  Is it the directions to your office, your retainer agreement or their monthly bill? No matter how much you deserve it, undivided attention from clients is a rarity today.  Whether it is because of their email pinging, cell phones…

Best of NBH: Quarantine Your Best Ideas

Do you have Shiny Shiny Syndrome?  I do.  Here’s a post from January 2012 about a technique I still use: Many of the attorneys I work with suffer from the same thing I do: Shiny Shiny Syndrome.  You suffer from S3 when you regularly give in to an overwhelming urge to start working on something new…

Resolve to Ask Current Clients More

If you’re a lawyer who only surveys your clients once the engagement’s over, you’re leaving a lot of information on the table — information that will not only help you serve future clients, but your current ones as well. That’s why, in 2010, you should Resolve To Ask Current Clients More.  Institute a regular, ongoing…

Ten Rules of Client Service

Quick, name your favorite customer service class from law school.  Can’t do it?  I’m not surprised.  Most lawyers don’t learn much about client service in school, and the only class that touches upon service at all is Legal Ethics — which is kind of like teaching someone to ride a bike by showing them lots…

The Haiku of What You Do

I’m a fan of Haiku, and have been doing an exercise based upon it for several years now at conferences and law firm retreats.  Instead of the 5-7-5 syllable format, I ask my audiences to answer three questions, using just five words for the first question, seven for the second and five again for the…

Ten Rules for Presenters

Lately, I’ve been giving lots of presentations, and have six more coming up before the Summer ends. I work pretty hard on my speeches (here are a few examples of my slides) and thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned the hard way in this Ten Rules post. Enjoy! 1.  The greatest gift…