The landscape explodes in color and fragrance, and again we marvel at the natural beauty of our state.
What about your law practice?
Is it growing or groaning? A blossoming wonderland or a barren wasteland?
10 Tips for A Healthy and Bountiful Law Garden
Give flowers – literally. Show up early one morning and place a bloom on everyone’s desk. Nature inspires us. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A sprig of columbine or branch of azalea from your own backyard will mean more than any store-bought plant.
Observe “National Wildflower Week.” Didn’t even know there was such a thing? Now you do. In fact, the month of May is filled with back-to-nature observances: Save the Rhino Day (May 1), Bird Day (May 4), National Candied Orange Peel Day (May 4), Iris Day (May 8), Migratory Bird Day (May 10), Frog Jumping Day (May 13), Dance Like a Chicken Day (May 14), Love a Tree Day (May 16), Sea Monkey Day (May 16), Pick Strawberries Day (May 20), Learn About Composting Day (May 29) and Water a Flower Day (May 30). Celebrate by treating your staff to a picnic, a group hike in the park or a Durham Bulls outing.
Talk to your clients. Research shows that talking to your plants helps them grow. It’s the same with clients. Nothing says “I care” more than a phone call promptly returned. And nothing says “I haven’t been working on your case” or “You are unimportant” than an unreturned call.
Tend your garden. In order to bear sweet fruit, relationships – with our clients, employees and colleagues – require attention and intention. Otherwise they wither and die. Some that are neglected for long stretches tend to sprout Bar complaints and malpractice claims.
Greet new clients with a bouquet. The first step to having happy clients, says law marketing guru John Remsen, is to send them a Welcome Kit. “I am amazed at how few law firms do this,” he writes. “In addition to a well-written cover letter from the managing partner, include your firm brochure, a client service pledge, a current list of contacts with direct dial phone numbers and email addresses, and a nice gift.”
Pull weeds. Are pesky clients and lousy cases choking the life out of you? Break out the clippers and go to work. Fire clients who won’t pay their bills. Dump cases that are dragging you down. Screen prospects with care to prevent future problems.
Be nice. Good manners are easy and free. But they pay valuable dividends. “At an absolute minimum you should be courteous and professional in your interactions with your clients,” writes the Rocket Lawyer. “Always treat them and their cases with respect. Take the time to thank them for their business…. I treat my clients like good friends. I ask them about their vacations, their families, and their activities beyond the scope of my representation. When I meet with them for lunch or coffee, business is sometimes the last thing we talk about. I genuinely like my clients and I want them to know that.”
Reuse, repurpose and recycle. Get the maximum mileage out of your work product. Even in a routine, relatively minor matter like a traffic case there is likely something – a court form, a client letter – that might be useful in similar cases.
Don’t overdo it. Resist the pull of perfectionism. “Many law firms feel the need to research issues to death and uncover every stone to make sure they are 100 percent correct,” according to Remsen. “Yet most clients are happy with 90 percent. Worse yet, the pressure to generate billable hours often encourages inefficiency and overlawyering to meet performance requirements. Be sensitive to the issue and do what’s right for your client.”
Practice detachment. The law generally – and individual cases specifically – can be consuming. Don’t get sucked in too deep. Maintain balance and perspective. Here are some signs you need a break: you dread coming into the office, hate your clients, bark at your staff and often wonder why you didn’t choose dental school instead.
Do it Your Way
Interestingly, May stands apart from all other months in one respect: in any given year, no other month begins or ends on the same day of the week as it does.
Your practice is unique as well. There is no one-size-fits-all template that will guarantee success.
Instead, take an honest inventory of your personal gardening skills. Choose a good location and plant the right seeds. Add fertilizer, water and a little TLC.
Then be patient. Before long, everything will be coming up roses.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he wa/s Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 919-619-2441.Planting Flowers for Profits and Protection
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.