We talk about client development and relations – and then we interview author, lawyer, and mediocre runner, David Kempston, about his book “That’s Why They Call It Practicing The Law”
Client Development for Law Firms – What Is This?
The article in today’s Hot Take is from AboveTheLaw.com “Lawyers: Don’t Make These Client Development Mistakes In 2019” by Cordell Parvin. Full disclosure, he works for a recruiting company called Lateral Link, so it is not unbiased, but he does have many years of experience from which to draw upon and offers a list of “how not to mess up” points that are:
Just do good work
Don’t be a generalist
Don’t try to be a salesman
Don’t just focus on attracting new clients
Don’t focus your attention on the wrong clients
Don’t fail to differentiate yourself
Don’t fail to prepare a business plan
Don’t fail to operate as a team
These are all good points, but unfortunately there isn’t a lot of depth and definition to most of them. Each one of these could probably stand on its own as the topic of an article, but I guess as a summary it’s not bad. He does have a great quote:
“ It quickly became apparent that client development is about relationship building and client management.” This is a great point, and fortunately we were able to discuss in depth with David in the interview.
That’s Why They Call It Practicing The Law
David Kempston was born and educated on the West Coast. He moved to Minnesota to attend law school over 29 years ago. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1992 (Magna Cum Laude and Order of the Coif), He has spent over 26 years as a litigator—primarily handling workers compensation claims. David believes focusing on the attorney-client relationship will lead to excellent lawyering—and his book, That’s Why They Call It Practicing Law, demonstrates how. This practical book encourages lawyers to do the ordinary tasks better. After arranging our stars, we’re lucky enough to get David on the show today to talk about this gem
“We All Have Time To Do That Which We Think Is Important.”
In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with David about mistakes lawyers make with client communications, how to demonstrate care and set expectations to your advantage:
Paul: I think you make an excellent point that you may not be…not you personally, but I’m saying in general, someone may not be the most affable person but, you know, good people skills can just be a timely response to an e-mail, maybe an e-mail response that’s more than one sentence. Something like that. Just throwing these things out there. But I’m curious, like, what’s the one most common error or area that you think lawyers fail at when it comes to customer service?
David: Great question and my answer, my pet peeve is lawyers who don’t return phone calls or in this era who don’t respond. You know, lawyers love to talk about how busy they are, “I’m so busy. I’m so busy. I’m so busy.” Sure, great, you know what, we’re all busy. But I will tell you a little secret, we all have time to do that which we think is important. In fact, we all do that which we think is important typically. And I hear more gripes from clients that are out kicking tires, you know, maybe clients are coming in…not my client, but someone saying, “Hey, I’ve got this lawyer, I’ve got this case, I never hear back from my lawyer, what’s going on?” So I try to get clients…actually and in my book, I talk about that. I say, one way to demonstrate care or to improve the relationship is to be timely, you know, and give a client expectation ahead of time.
So when I meet with what I call a potential client, and I’m giving them that, and I’m learning their story, and I’m explaining the law to them. I may or may not end up representing them, but one of the things that I tell them is if they do have questions they can follow up and that they will hear back from me within 24 hours, unless I’m dead, out of town, or something bad happened. And so I give a client [an expectation]…and then as I move into the relationship, the client has an expectation, you know, “I’m gonna hear back from Dave within 24 hours.” And usually it’s sooner than that. But that’s the outside. And sometimes it’s as simple as me coming up for air after trying a case and saying, “Hey, I’m buried, got your e-mail I’m going to follow up with you in another day.” But at least that way the client knows that I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet, and I haven’t forgotten about them. And what I found if I establish the 24 hour rule, you don’t get the three e-mails. You know, first e-mail, “Hey, here’s my question.” Second e-mail, “Hey, did you get my first e-mail?” … Third e-mail, irritated all in caps, you know, “WHERE ARE YOU?” You avoid that kind of stuff.
Get More Information About Building The Practice You Want With Good Client Service
Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more information and conversation about client service, building good client relationship habits, David’s book and more. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—