Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Resolution Time: 2008

I make and try to keep resolutions.

For me it's been a year to remember: 2007 began with my decision to open my own law office. It was precipitated by a significant event at the end of 2006. This time last year my former "boss" tried to weasel out of a referral fee to another lawyer. It was a significant fee to be paid to a solo practitioner. When the owner of the firm demanded that I abide by the decision to - in essence - screw another lawyer, I told him would have none of it. That moment was one I will remember forever - I informed that I would resign that very moment if the referral fee was not paid. Ten minutes later I was told to leave, and told (yelled at, actually) that the fee would not be paid. Ninety days later, the Court ordered him to pay it. I have not looked back since, and have been happy with the decision. My 2007 resolution - Be transparent with any attorney who refers a case, provide regular updates and send a referral check promptly was met. Many times.

2008 will bring a list of more basic resolutions and courtesies:

1.When speaking with a person - client, attorney, etc. - I will not pick up my cell phone to see who it is. I will not check my blackberry while in a business setting.

2.My office will march forward to going paperless. We already move all FAX transmissions to our servers, and basic items such as Incident Reports and medical records are scanned. Next up: Other records and documents.

3.Use of IM and texting of clients: Angel Reyes uses texting to reach a client. We will as well. The use of IM in our offices works well, as we are spread out. Next is asking for the IM screen name of clients. I have found that nearly 60% of all clients use IM, even if only on a semi-regular basis.

4.Copying clients on case costs payments. In the old days, there would be sticker shock when a case resolved and the client saw for the first time the costs incurred in a case for matters such as expert witnesses, deposition transcript costs, and the like. Now, clients get all copies of letters showing payments to any entity (but they don't get a copy of the check). This will be a 100% rule in 2008.

5.Compliments: Seems like the law field is one area where compliments to staffers, fellow lawyers, etc. are rare. Not in my office. 2008 is the year of compliments and of 'well done' comments.