ABA Journal

The New Normal

13 New Year’s Resolutions for Improving Client Service

By Patrick J. Lamb

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It’s that time of the year. So here is a list of 13 resolutions for ‘13. Feel free to adopt any of these you want.

1) I will spend more time in 2013 looking at the relationships I have with my clients from their perspective.

2) I will make a real effort to understand that most clients care about results, not the time I spent on the road to the result. Good results are worth more to clients than bad results.

3) I will experiment with something new this year to see if the “buzz” is warranted instead of merely dismissing the idea because it’s not the way I do things.

4) I will ask my clients to define unacceptable, acceptable and outstanding outcomes before I bill for any work on a matter.

5) I will attempt to understand how much it costs for me to perform certain tasks—not how much I would be paid by the hour, but how much the service costs to deliver.

6) I will express to my clients my understanding that the money being spent is theirs, not mine, and that they, not me, have the right to determine if the money should be invested in me.

7) I will explore with my clients whether the money spent on my matter could be better invested elsewhere in the company and know that if paying for my services is the best investment, I need to be able show that to them.

8) I will read books that help me evaluate the way I practice. I will start with Michael Eisner’s Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed.

9) I will embrace the idea that ours is a service profession, and that our choice to be part of a service profession means that we must focus on the service we provide.

10) I will attempt to understand the forces that exist and are developing that will affect my firm, the way it operates and the impact on its business, and what risks those forces pose for me.

11) I will try to understand those who see the future differently than I do, and I will engage in a “what if they are right?” analysis.

12) I will do one thing each month that improves the client service I provide.

13) I will make less use of email in dealing with my clients and spend more time talking to them on the phone and visiting them personally.

These are but 13 of an unlimited number of work-related resolutions. Feel free to share your list.

Patrick Lamb is a founding member of Valorem Law Group, a litigation firm representing business interests. Valorem helps clients solve their business disputes and coping with pressures to reduce legal spend using nontraditional approaches, including use of nonhourly fee structures, coordination with LPOs or contract lawyers, joint-venturing with other firms and implementation of project management tools to handle lawsuits or portfolios of litigation.

Pat is the author of the the book Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Legal Market. He also blogs at In Search Of Perfect Client Service.

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