A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. An entrepreneur’s job is to build the foundation.

 – Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

Every business has a modus operandi.

This way of operating is the habitual way in which business is done. Designing or determining the modus operandi at your business puts you in the role of psychologist determining the deep-rooted basis for the actions of your office.

The modus operandi can be in regards to your systems (which we discuss in a later part of this series); but, more importantly, the business also has a cultural modus operandi.

Yes, your law firm has an attitude, a culture, an atmosphere that can be felt and perceived by everyone who comes in contact with it.

Discover the modus operandi of your firm

The cultural method of operation for a business can be seemingly more difficult to define, because most businesses do not spend time shaping and developing the culture of their business. The culture is developed by chance and chaos, not with purpose and thought.

Discovering the modus operandi of your business gives you the opportunity to conduct an attitude check on your office:

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Internally

Determining the attitude of your team working with each other.

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Externally

Determining the attitude of your team towards clients.

Professional Checkup: What is your legal team’s modus operandi?

Lawyers as a group have an ego problem when it comes to attitude.

The mindset that “you should be grateful to have me as your lawyer” needs to be replaced with “we are grateful to have you as a client.”

Attorneys that allow this entitled attitude towards clients to fester will think:

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My clients are too demanding.

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My clients never pay on time.

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My clients are a time suck.

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My clients are speed bumps on my road to success.

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My clients are my problem.

In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Firms must always remember one thing: service

Lawyers seem to forget that law firms are in the service industry.

In any service industry only one thing that wins: attitude.

At the end of the day, the way you deliver your services (i.e. the process of delivery) is more important than the actual legal products you render. The value of your delivery process is grossly disproportionate to the legal work performed.

Attorneys, and their staff, occupy a unique position of trust with the client. At every turn that trust should be cultivated by outstanding service.

 

  • How do we greet a client?
  • What information do we provide to the client?
  • Ho do we follow up with the client after he leaves the office?
  • Do we show the client the work being performed on his behalf?
  • How do we maintain contact with the client and keep the client updated about his case?

Clients are assessing your firm’s “intangibles”

A firm’s modus operandi is comparable to sports analysts talking about the “intangibles” of a star athlete.

While the mechanics are important, questions arise about the athlete’s leadership qualities, work ethic, and will to win. These are questions about the athlete’s attitude. The danger comes in believing that such intangibles are the result of chance and not design. The athlete with strong intangibles is not lucky; he is motivated to win and has developed and refined a habitual attitude of winning.

When deciding to retain your services clients are primarily assessing your firm’s intangibles.

Let me repeat that again.

When deciding to retain your services clients are primarily assessing your firm’s intangibles.

Your firm’s intangibles provide you the greatest leverage in improving the delivery of your services because the opportunities to improve your firm’s intangibles are virtually limitless.

The creative ability to improve how your clients receive your services is as vast at the imagination of your team.

Every aspect of client interaction should be examined for ways to improve the delivery of service:

Your firm’s intangibles provide you the greatest leverage in improving the delivery of your services because the opportunities to improve your firm’s intangibles are virtually limitless.

The creative ability to improve how your clients receive your services is as vast at the imagination of your team.

Every aspect of client interaction should be examined for ways to improve the delivery of service:

Initial Phone Call

  • Is phone call answered with a smile?
  • How can we sound more welcoming and helpful on the phone?
  • How can we provide the client with the answers to the questions he has as soon as possible?
  • How can we make this phone call memorable and stand out for the client?

Greeting at the Office

  • How can we greet a client immediately? [Or better: How do we show the client that they are the most important person in our office when they walk through the door?]
  • How are we maximizing the client’s time in the office?
  • How can we make this greeting memorable and or stand out for the client?
  • Is the reception area comfortable? How can we improve comfort level? [Chairs, music, magazine, wifi, and privacy]
  • What is the atmosphere in the reception area? [What inter-workings of the firm does the client see in the reception area]

Consultation

  • How do we make sure that the client does not feel rushed?
  • How are we uncovering the life impact that the case is having on the client? Are we asking the right questions about the client’s case?
  • How can we improve our forecast of how the case will be handled and a timeline for completion?
  • How do we outline the client’s next steps?
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Client Engagement Letter

  • How can we provide better, faster and more information to the client about his case?
  • How are we explaining the means for our client to request and expect follow up about his case?
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Follow up with Client

  • How are we showing to the client the work we have performed on his case? What is the means by which we share work product with the client?
  • How can we use these follow ups as opportunities to share additional helpful information with the client or to remind the client about items needed for the case to progress?
  • How do we create better automation systems for following up with the client and providing additional information?

Courtroom Appearance

  • How can we better prepare our client for the courtroom?
  • Have we set up our client for success by providing guidance on courtroom etiquette and attire?
  • What are ways we can eliminate anxiety about the court process?
  • How can we guarantee that our client shows up at the right courtroom on the right date and at the right time?

Closing Letter

  • How are we offering future help to the client?
  • What suggestions are we making to client about additional steps they can take to finalize matters related to their case in which we are not involved?
  • How are we asking the client for referrals?

These areas for improvement are a drop in the bucket of ways to take your services to the next level.

Now is the time to work on your firm’s intangibles.

Start working on your team’s intangibles and include your team in the brainstorming for improvement. Honing in on the way your services are delivered will immediately change your business for the better.

There will be constant room for improvement because the more you start to examine the way your client’s receive your services, the more potential for improvement you will notice.

This culture of improvement is contagious because it is fun. Finding ways to make the client’s case-experience the best it can be is challenging and interesting.

Make sure your modus operandi breathes life into your clients, your team, and you.

James Minick is founder and C.E.O. of Minick Law, P.C. James is committed to providing top notch legal services through his team of highly specialized legal professionals. James will defend your rights.

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