LPM Tip

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Always return the call

One of the most complained about ethics violation to the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) has to do with lawyers not returning phone calls to their clients. We all know we should return our client's phone calls (ideally within a few hours), but if the only reason why you're returning phone calls to your clients is your fear of a BBO complaint, you need to examine some of your priorities.

We live in a culture of instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it now. We get upset when our smartphone signal goes from LTE to 3G, because it slows down our web browser by a minute. We get upset when our apps don't download quickly because we must have that update to Candy Crush. Believe it or not, our clients are the same way. When they call an attorney's office to set up a consultation or to follow up on their case, they expect to speak with the attorney right away or at least within a reasonable period of time.

I tell my clients from the start that I will always respond to their phone calls within 24 hours. Reality is, I will usually respond to their phone call within an hour, unless I am in court and I am not at my desk. Setting the expectation for your clients is important, because they know they will be heard and that you value their time.

Other than clients, you should always respond in a timely fashion also to other people who call your office. It does not matter if it is opposing counsel, other attorneys asking for advice, a mentee, your forensic accountant, etc. All of those people are potential referral sources for your firm and can bring you business. So why would you ignore them?

There have been countless times when I have referred business to opposing counsel from previous cases. I will refer out business to those attorneys who always return my phone calls or e-mails and who, even though they were on the other side, treated me with respect. Everyone is a potential business referral source.

Tip courtesy of Gabriel Cheong, Infinity Law Group in Quincy, MA. Follow on twitter @GabrielCheong or visit www.infinitylawgroup.com.

Published November 7, 2013

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