(H/T) to Slaw for directing us to a find by Jim Calloway. The Pincus Family Law Firm has posted a Client Expectations Manifesto on their website. The assumption is this was done to ward off clients who would be unrealistic about the lawyer’s time or the lawyer’s infallibility before the client even consults with the lawyer.
I have some thoughts on this. I commend the effort and especially putting it up on the internet. It is a manifesto we should all consider. However, when I read it initially, the writing was off-putting to me because it read like a rebuke, as if the lawyer was exhausted from not having controlled his clients’ expectations or his time in such a way that s/he was just plain fed up. I also sensed the paralegals and support staff were complaining and this was the response out of frustration. Again, this is just my impression, but aren’t I like the potential client considering consulting with these lawyer? I don’t want to be rebuked before I’ve ever opened my mouth.
I would recommend this manifesto be worded in a way which – while gaining what we want , control over our time and not seen as perfect - makes us even more attractive to the potential client by showing why the client achieves a tremendous value for ‘playing by the rules.’
Here is my hypothetical client expectations manifesto (just the first portion) with just some rewording of Pincus’ manifesto:
What You Can Expect From Us
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. Unless absolutely necessary, we reserve our weekends for our families and private pursuits. Therefore, it is not our policy to work on Saturday, Sunday or legal holidays and we do not provide emergency numbers for these times. Periodically, and truly for our own convenience, we may look at and answer your email over the weekend, but this is generally the exception and should not to be relied upon by you that we are accessible on weekends.
We’ve Never Met A Perfect Person. Have You? We’re great, but please do not think we are perfect. We are very competent attorneys and paralegals, but occasionally we may make a mistake. We will correct a mistake if we find it or if you point it out. Just as you would not want to be yelled at or accused of not doing your job or insulted because of the mistake, please give us the same respect.
Don’t Call Us. We’ll Call You. We always return phone calls, generally in the order they are received and based on the ‘legal’ urgency of the situation. If you leave a message, trust your message will be passed on to the attorney and returned within one business day, either by the attorney or our support staff. Knowing this, we ask you to please not call multiple times in a day. During working hours, e-mail is the quickest way to express yourself and get the response you need from an attorney.
Don’t Come A Knockin’. In this law firm, our attorneys primarily work by appointment. Please do not show up at our offices to speak with an attorney without an appointment as we may not be as welcoming as you would like or expect. You’re entitled to our full attention and this is why we’ll gladly schedule an appointment as appropriate.
Want To Save Money? Please utilize our paralegals to answer your questions and give you status reports. Our paralegals are very experienced and can, most of the time, respond to your request. Our paralegals are billed at less than than 50% of what the attorneys charge so take advantage of their experience and knowledge. If you are not satisfied with the response or we determine your request requires a response by the attorney we’ll certainly handle accordingly. It’s not that we don’t like talking with you or wouldn’t love to bill you more attorney time, but do you really want to give us more money than necessary?
Please read the full original manifesto here. And be free to copy this, make changes, share it! Would love to know your thoughts after you’ve read the original. And…would you be willing to put a Client Expectations Manifesto on your website? If so, how would yours read and why?