Comfort object: the way we’ve always done it isn’t always the way to do it
I'm handed lawyer business cards quite regularly. In fact, I
have a substantial collection. They're like my bobbleheads. After a
while, you sort of become numb to the hand-off: Quick glance to get
the name down, into the shirt pocket (at least, that's where mine
go for storage). After a little while longer, you sort of become
numb to the process, as well: Scan the card to populate a new
contact within your case management system, and
slot the card into your overflowing storage box.
Last week, I was waiting for valet service to return my car (not
a regular occurrence, which makes the forthcoming narration
possible), and I was just sort of hanging out outside without a
whole lot going on. So, I started shuffling through the business
cards I was given that day, because I don't have a smartphone upon
which to play Candy Crush or do SnapChat. In an unscientific
survey, I discovered that every card I was given had a fax line
This begs the question: Do any of these attorneys
actually want me to send them a fax? My educated guess
would be that, if I did, their reactions could be placed somewhere
along the continuum of disappointment → disgust → indignation →
psychotic rage. I mean, even if you're an elder law attorney (and
even ignoring the fact that you'll most often be dealing with the
children of elders), do you really need to provide a fax line? If
people want to fax you, won't they ask? Haven't email attachments
taken up the slack for the fax? Will anyone actually
make the decision to retain an attorney based on whether that
attorney has offered up a fax line, or not? No way. So, why is the
fax number a ubiquitous business card line item?
Well, it's probably because, each time since 1977 that the
decision to reprint business cards has come up, the attorney in
charge of such things has approved the existing design and
inclusions in reliance upon nothing more than a cursory glance.
Certainly, this is a function of many things, including the general
busy office to which a lawyer is subjected, and the existence of
the traditional law firm decision matrix that anything outside of
billable work is not worthy of depth of consideration. But, there
is another pervasive aspect of that kind of oldthink at play here,
too: the default mechanism that "it's the way we've always done
it." It starts with seconding a choice made the prior year; and
then, like an advancing root system, it comes to dominate multiple
decision trees. This method of managing eventually becomes
subconscious; then, your firm is on autopilot, hurtling toward
Sure, it's just a fax number, but, if it's not on your business
card for a specific, identifiable reason, it may be symptomatic of
a larger issue creeping through your law firm management
. . .
For less arcane marketing and management tips, attend the Massachusetts Bar Association's Fourth Annual Super Marketing Conference: Building
Relationships to Build Business, on June 5 at Suffolk
University Law School, or online.
- MBA members can access a $50 discount by
selecting the "Co-Sponsoring Organization" rate when
- 2013 & 2014 law school graduates may attend for
FREE by selecting the "Current Suffolk Student"
option when registering.
For conference news, follow the hashtag #LHLM and check out our media sponsor, Attorney at
Work, for program updates.
Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office Management
Published May 22, 2014
To learn more about the Law Practice Management
Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members,
contact LPM Section Chair Cynthia E.
MacCausland or Vice Chair Damian J.