Keys To Success – A Competent Staff
Published to: 000113, 000114, 000116, A Small Town Lawyer's Perspective, Perspectives of a Small Town Lawyer, West Virginia Lawyer - Tips and Techniques
on August 16, 2013 9:28 pm
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I have two blog articles in me today. This one is about my staff, and my staffing in general. If I get it finished, I will try to go to my “sister blog”, “WV Lawyer, Tips and Techniques” www.burtonhunteresq2.blogspot for 10-15 office essentials.
1. No single person could have accomplished what we did this week.
2. As a sole practitioner, I struggle to make sure that the client gets that personal touch the big firms can’t provide and the large firm capabilities.
3. I talk about my “law office technology” all the time, but what of the people?
4. I won’t embarrass them by mentioning names, but I have a personal injury and civil matter paralegal, a family law paralegal, a receptionist/timekeeper who enters my innumerable billing entries, and my office manager, wife, and best friend.
5. I cannot work successfully with an employee unless she (yes, almost always she) is a. smart; b. efficient; and c. compassionate.
6. People with those qualities almost always join in the humor generated by the human comedy.
7. A key, of course, is training. That’s a toughie in a small office. So many interruptions and distractions. But, at the beginning, the “newbie” gets to read our lengthy “Office Policies and Procedures Manual”. We have website tutorials, grammar handbooks, videos, CLE materials, and a good, functional library.
8. The other employees always help and guide.
9. We stress the importance of confidentiality.
10. We have short “scripts” for the person receiving a new client call to ask the essential questions.
11. We teach that the potential client should get a return call from the lawyer or a paralegal within an hour.
12. They are expected to pester the lawyer for answers to client questions. We use e-mail extensively for this. There follow ups and attendance to our deadlines and task lists are the key to our efficiency.
13. In 40 years, I only got multiple complaints about one employee. She was “a princess”. She let the clients know they were an imposition on her busy time. She talked down to them, became impatient with them, and generally followed her own agenda. It was a relief when she walked out in a huff after being caught lying.
14. What I get nearly every day are comments praising my staff for being polite and helpful.
15. I explain that people who call us are in trouble. They are worried, strapped for money, grieving or scared. Today I got perhaps the most tragic call of my career. I can help the client move forward in life but never recover fully from what has happened to her.
16. The poorer and sadder, and angrier, the client, the more we try to help. I, of course, tend toward volatility, so I seek out and hire people who are likeable, caring, smart, and compassionate.
17. Somehow we handled the loss of two excellent staff members this summer and the typical summer vacation scheduling hassle. One of them had four children while working for us her more than 12 years and was like a daughter/sister.. The other was supposed to stay a year but moved on after six months. We parted friends.
18. We promoted from within and found “just the right receptionist” and are moving on.
19. But, for a nice experience, give us a call. Whether you get Fay, Tabatha, Letetia, or Nancy, you will be treated with respect and good cheer. They will take careful notes and get word to me in minutes, and you WILL get a reply.
Have a wonderful week-end. jbh
This post was written by Burton Hunter