If You’re Going to be on LinkedIn, First Impressions Matter

curb-appeal-splashJuly 2013

I  frequently get asked by attorneys and other professionals about the importance of having a LinkedIn profile. I have finally come up with a simple and concise way to explain the need for creating a robust LinkedIn profile. Here it is:

Samll LinkedIn_logo_1

If you have a LinkedIn profile, think of it as a first impression or your curb appeal. When potential clients look for you, what do they find? Having an empty or crappy LinkedIn profile is worse than having none at all.

Check your online presence. Google It. Search for yourself online. What comes up first? Chances are your LinkedIn profile or Avvo profile are listed at the top. Is it what you expected? Is it what you’d like to people to see about you? What would a person who didn’t know you think?

If you are ready to start using LinkedIn as the business development tool it is so well designed for but need help creating your profile and your firm profile, please give me a call. It is something I enjoy doing and enjoy teaching. By the way, be sure to check that Avvo profile while you  are at it. Think you don’t have one – look again.

There is also the ethical responsibility part of being online. If your going to be online, you are responsible for making sure the content adheres to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  Here is a link to my recent seminar that discusses some of the ethical pitfalls of being online and how to avoid them. “Your Social Media Presence – Adhering to Ethics Rules While Being Social“

Peggy Gruenke, Owner/Consultant LawBizCOO/LegalBizSuccess

Specializing in Law Firm Practice Management  and Business Development for solo and small firm attorneys. Peggy can be found on Twitter @PeggyGruenke,LinkedIn and at www.legalbizsuccess.com. pgruenke@lawbizsuccess.com

One Way to Differentiate Yourself: Create a New Client Packet

Wordle: Welcome
You’ve heard and read many times about the importance of communication and managing client expectations to ensure a successful and profitable engagement. The legal business is essentially relationship based and no relationship survives, let alone thrives, without good communication. The clients may care more about the communication/relationship than your ability or the quality of your work product. So if at that initial client meeting, you can put yourself in their shoes and see the experience through your client’s eyes and anticipate their needs and questions, you are one step ahead of your competitors.

A well designed new client packet can create a client experience that will be memorable, differentiate you from other attorneys in town and build the foundation for a successful and profitable engagement.   A New Client Welcome Package assures your new client is properly welcomed into your practice. In this article, I want to layout items that should be part of a new client welcome packet.

First impressions matter. So invest in getting nice quality folders designed.  On the cover, include your logo, address, website, and phone number. List practice areas on the back of the folder. A welcome package in a folder also provides a place for clients to keep important documents or information throughout the engagement.

Include the following items in your welcome packetContinue reading

Part 2: More Favorite Products from 2013 ABA TechShow

checkmark-fb (1)While I’m still digesting all the great new products, there were a few vendors making announcements about new products, features and integrations. So here is a summary of some of their announcements. And then there’s the ever popular LegalTypist – home to the SuperPass for TechShow. Plan on going to 2014 TechShow and save $150 with the SuperPass – only available through LegalTypist.

Legal Typist

LegalTypist – Your legal virtual assistant and legal transcription service for firms of all sizes, but fills a great need for the solo/small firm attorney. And one exciting thing for me was I actually got to meet Ms. LegalTypist – Andrea Cannavina. Until TechShow, for me, just a friendly and engaging Tweeter.  Andrea has created a product for law firms of all sizes – a scalable digital workflow accessible from any telephone or internet connection that is as easy for the staff to use as it is on the firm to implement. Try it for free – you just may free yourself up to do more tweeting with Andrea.

clio_certified_consultant_125x125Clio announced 2 new integrations with Xero and NetDocuments. After 5 years in business providing small firms an affordable solution, this opens the door for Clio to be ready for larger law firms. NetDocuments is a popular document management system for mid to large size firms. A cloud-based document management system, every time you open or save a document, you now have the option to be doing it with NetDocuments. So this integration gives larger firms, not using DropBox or Box, a reason to look closer at Clio for their practice management solution. Xero is a cloud-based accounting package that many had never heard of until Clio announced its integration. For current clients using QuickBooks, a conversion guide is available.

bookmark side mentor horizontal (1)Building upon a well recognized brand in the legal community, Rocket Matter announced at TechShow it’s new comprehensive Internet marketing platform – RocketX1. Rocket X1 consolidates online marketing services offered by multiple agencies, eliminating the need to individually hire separate expertise – it’s a one-stop shop approach. The feature I was most impressed was  the systems in place to measure progress and ROI:  checklists, deadlines, analytics, and milestones to keep the firm on track.  The cost, well it’s not cheap but it is comparable to what other vendors might charge and RocketX1 customers  get a website, a blog, SEO optimization, PR, graphic design, strategic consulting and more in a single package. Still in beta, results won’t be out for a few months.

Hope you find the time to check out these products and see how you can use them in your practice. Free demos are always available. And if I may add a shameless plug – I am now certified in both Clio and RocketMatter. So consider contacting me for more information about these 2 great cloud based law practice management solutions.

Peggy Gruenke, LawBizCOO

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A Sampling of My Favorite Products from 2013 ABA TechShow

Here is a summary of my favorite vendors and products from ABA TechShow 2013. I hope next year I can get a few Cincinnati attorneys to attend with me. Mark your calendars – March 27th – 29th. It would be such a pleasure showing you around the TechShow. While reading through my list of Top Picks, have an open mind and be willing to spend a little to realize the potential you have to make your practice more efficient. And more efficiency leads to happier clients and more revenue.

Three days of the ABA TechShow just may not be quite enough when there are so many great presentations, authors to meet and products to experience first-hand. But I did my best to make it around to most of the 100 vendors in the exhibit area. I wanted to visit and test drive products that I thought would add value to a solo/small firm practice. So here are my top picks. If there are any products you want to try, let me know. I have access to discounts for some of the products.

WordRake – I have tried this product and it is one of the best Word add-in products for editing I have seen. WordRake helps you write better by instantly editing Microsoft Word documents and suggesting changes you can accept or reject to create clear and concise documents by eliminated useless words and phrases.  It’s an editor that identifies extra language to remove for brevity and clarity. With WordRake legal editor, you’ll edit your legal documents quickly, professionally, and all within Microsoft Word! Once you step back and realize the amount of time you spend composing documents, this product is just a no-brainer. $99 for one year. You can download a 3-day trial, which is what I did. You’ll be hooked. Just do it…

logo_legal_transcriptionE-Typist, Inc. – This is a small company right here in Ohio. I liked the simplicity of this product – you dictate, transfer you audio files, E-Typist transcribes, proofreads and sends them back to you – for as little as 1¢ per word. Really, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. There are 4 options for submitting your audio file – Just do it…

  1. Dial in your dictation on a toll-free line OR
  2. Upload files from your digital voice recorder or PC to a secure server OR
  3. Email your voice files OR
  4. Dictate on your iPhone, Smartphone or Blackberry and send your files  (you will need to download an app – $14.99). Dictate directly into your iPhone, utilizing the Dictamus app or DictaDroid for Androids. Then save your dictation and “share” it. You can record up to 90 minutes of dictation. The apps have all the recording features of a digital voice recorder – and won’t use your cell phone minutes.

orange-clock-black-rimChrometa – Even with the trend towards flat fees and other alternative billing arrangements, the billable hour is not dead yet. I started using this product day I got home. I love it. It tracks everything I do on my computer – every email written, every document I produce and every phone call I make from my mobile device. The web interface is easy to use and it has not affected anything else running on my PC. You can sync your time entries right into Clio, Rocket Matter or export to an Excel file or .iff file for QuickBooks.  It’s a beautifully seamless product for capturing your time, applying time to the correct matter and producing more accurate invoices. Since you are capturing more time, you just might make more money. And it’s priced right – $19/mn. Give it a try. It really is simple. Just do it…

abillity-TM-logo_236x77_RGB_72dpiAnother simple product, focused on one thing – capturing time spent on phone calls. A few minutes here or a half-hour there adds up quickly, and before you know it, you’ve lost billable hours and left sizable revenue on the table.  With this product you can capture time not only on your mobile phone but also on your office phone (if you have a VoIP system). You can record or type a quick memo about the call, as it happens, for quicker reconciliation and more descriptive billing records. All call records are accessed via a web portal and can be exported to a .csv file for integration with your billing system. I tried it and saw first-hand how simple and quick this application worked. It is currently in beta mode. If you would like to participate as a beta user, let me know.  Just do it…

SmokeballFinally, a simple and affordable document automation application that integrates seamlessly with Outlook and Word. And it has a cool name. This tool sits within Microsoft Word to assist you in generating forms and letters for your matters. But the really amazing part is it comes with thousands of Court Forms at no extra charge. They maintain the forms making sure they are always up-to-date and they are stored as Word documents so you can easily modify them. Smokeball stores the details of all clients and matters as you work, so it is automatically building your database for future access. For $29/mn you get a document automation system that includes automation of letters and forms, document management and version control, and email management with Outlook plus 1000s of court forms. At this time, not all states are available. But they are committed to adding court forms as requested and the tool is simple enough for you to convert any current Word document into a form. Just do it…

logikcull128E-discovery products were a the largest product category represented in the exhibit hall. One of the newcomers in this growing arena is Logikcull.  Here is a nice article by Brett Burney about this great e-discovery software. No gigabyte fees – you are charged by month for the amount of documents you need to upload. It’s a very robust product, well designed to work on mobile devices, recognizing that legal professionals also use mobile phones and tablets to get work done. Go mobile with your e-discovery, when you upload your documents into Logikcull, they get converted into web-viewable formats so you can access them without the constraints of original software. You can try it for free. If you do, let me know how you like it. Just do it…

Hope you find the time to check out these products and see how you can use them in your practice.

And finally, keeping with the theme, I’ll end this post with one of my favorite motivational speeches – “Just Do It”, a speech by Art Williams . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y86o1snrC-I

Peggy Gruenke, LawBizCOO

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Tips from ABA TechShow: iPad Apps to Use in Your Litigation Practice

Ipad 2Attending the ABA TechShow is one of my favorite conferences  for 4 reasons:

  1. The top notch  speakers who are experts in their topic;
  2. The attendees (solo/small firm lawyers, IT folks and law firm administrators) are all there in collaboration mode to share and learn from each other;
  3. The vendors with great products to add efficiency and productivity to your practice, and
  4. You get to meet, in person, all the people you have been following on social media.

As follow-up to the iPad CLE seminar on Friday, I wanted to give you a list of iPads apps talked about at the TechShow, particularly, apps for litigators. The below summary comes from presentations by Jeff Richardson, Ben Stevens, Paul Unger, and Tom Mighell (author of book, iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers) and additional research I conducted. With apps being so cheap, if you are curious, just buy it. You may also want to use an app that your co-workers or friends are using so they can help you better use and learn the app.

Why has the iPad become such a useful tool for lawyers? It is one of the biggest innovations in legal technology in the past 3 years. The design is simple, lightweight and the functionality is equally as nice with new legal-specific apps constantly being developed. So if you carry around your legal pad and Redwell to the courtroom, this summary of apps will have you thinking about dumping all that paper and using the iPad as your legal pad and digital folder. For courtroom work, the iPad can be used to access exhibits, pleadings, legal research, depositions, and other documents you may need in a hearing or at a trial. And it’s so easy to carry.

First, worth mentioning, when purchasing an iPad, do you spend the extra $100 or so for a model that supports 3G and 4G LTE on AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. Or do you purchase the less expensive Wi-Fi only model where you can use the hotspot feature on your iPhone, a hotspot device or the readily available free Wi-Fi. I will mention the risk of being on an unsecured, free Wi-Fi internet – if you are using your iPad as a tool for your practice, you should invest in secured access via a data plan from your cellular provider.

Deadline Calculators:

  • Court Days Pro ($2.99) This program turns your iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device into a court date calculating machine. By inputting rules for various “trigger” events, Court Days Pro will be able to instantly create all the deadlines that accompany it. It’s a handy piece of software. However, the biggest problem is that the set-up process can be pretty time-consuming. The app requires a lot of initial input on the user’s part. Once you do get it up and running though, Court Days Pro can easily become a lawyer’s best friend.
  • Lawyer’s Professional Assistant ($4.99) This app from Wolfram Apha, is a reference tool to help lawyers with a number of calculations that may be relevant in your practice. Such as calendar computations, legal dictionary, statute of limitations for each state, financial computations including settlement and fees calculator, real estate law calculations, plus more. Here is a good article written by Gyi Tsakalakis reviewing this app:

Document Review and Organizers:

  • Circus Ponies Notebook ($29.99) is a powerful tool for organizing notes, research, and even full case files.  Besides it has a name that has to make you wonder. Some attorneys use Circus Ponies Notebook as their trial notebook in the courtroom, enabling a lawyer merely to carry an iPad around rather than be weighed down with boxes of transcripts, file folders, and all of the other piles of paperwork created in preparing for trial. This app has great search functions, ability to take notes, and even a voice annotation feature.
  • ReaddleDocs (FREE)  is a document manager for the iPad which saves documents so they can be accessed anywhere. ReaddleDocs can access PDFs, MS Office documents (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint), Apple iWork files, and any other document converted to PDF. PDFs in ReaddleDocs can be highlighted using multiple colors, and notes can be added directly to the files. Files can be uploaded or downloaded using many file sharing services. As an iPad app for lawyers, ReaddleDocs is a great tool for reading and marking depositions and trial transcripts. Important pages can be tabbed, significant passages can be highlighted, and reference notes can be added from the iPad without having to open the file on the computer.
  • Quickoffice Pro HD ($19.99) Another office suite option that can perform the core features found in Microsoft Office on your desktop. This app is one of the top choices for legal professionals because of its robust functionality in viewing and editing Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.


  • The Deponent App ($9.99) – With this deposition questions and exhibits outline application, attorneys can select from over 150 deposition questions by customizable categories, including admonitions or expert qualifications; organize the order of questions; and customize the questions for their witnesses. Questions can be linked to an exhibit. Exhibits can be loaded into the app from DropBox in PDF, Word and other file formats, so you can view the exhibits while you are asking questions and even show the witness during the deposition. Very cool.
  • TranscriptPad ($49.99) – Once depositions have been taken, load them into TranscriptPad to review and create designations. Simple issue coding, highlighting and flagging are the backbone of TranscriptPad. TranscriptPad has a powerful search tool that allows you to find key words. Your search results will display the number of times your search term was used per transcript, and also the page and line. And once your designations are done, you can create a report and email them to co-counsel, judges or clients. When you import your transcripts, at the same time you can import your exhibits into a folder which is automatically created in your case, and then access them easily as you read.

Jury Selection/Tracking:

  • JuryTracker ($4.99) – JuryTracker is a unique jury observation tool that allows the trial attorney, paralegal, jury consultant and client to observe and report on juror behavior in a consistent, concise and effective way.
  • iJuror ($9.99) – Developed with the help of many attorneys, iJuror is juror selection for the 21st century. Simply tap the seats to add juror information, add notes, and drag-and-drop to choose jurors and alternates, and to dismiss jurors. Configurable for seating arrangements of up to 60 jurors.
  • Jury Duty ($29.99) – Jury Duty is an innovative app that will give you the control you need to take voir dire to the next level. During voir dire, you have a limited amount of time to get to know the potential jurors. This app helps speed the process, with tools to customize voir dire and capture critical information with seating charts and question lists.

Presenting Evidence:

  • TrialPad ($89.99) – TrialPad for the iPad is a powerful tool for organizing case presentations for the courtroom. Unlike many apps which have merely been adapted by lawyers to use in their practices, TrialPad was specifically designed by lawyers for use in the courtroom. TrialPad enables attorneys to organize, annotate, and manage their case files for court hearings, jury trials, mediation presentations, and other settings. To use a document or photo in TrialPad, it merely needs to be converted to a format compatible with Adobe PDF. Along with tools such as highlight, redline, and redact, TrialPad allows you to display images and exhibits using a projector or a monitor.
  • Exhibit A ($9.99) – Present your key documents, photos and videos in the courtroom or boardroom in a beautiful fullscreen HD display. Presentation tools let you highlight, mark and call-out key sections of your exhibit instantly, in real time. A virtual laser pointer improves visibility as you emphasize your points.
  • MagicPlan (Free) – This app lets you measure rooms and draws a floor plan just by taking pictures. You can then get the floor plan for exhibits and presentations in PDF, JPG and DXF format, or publish an interactive floor plan on the web. MagicPlan CSI (Free) measures crime scenes with menus that allow you to position and document evidence and create PDFs and graphics to use in reports.

Legal Research:

  • Fastcase (Free) – The Fastcase app allows subscribers to the legal reference service to search its growing virtual law library on the go, in the palm of their hand —including cases and statutes from all 50 states and the federal government. Search by citation or keyword (in Boolean or natural language), or browse statute collections.
  • Black’s Law Dictionary ($54.99) – For more than a century Black’s Law Dictionary® has been the standard for the language of law. Today it’s the most widely cited law book in the world. The 9th Edition contains more than 45,000 terms, alternate spellings or equivalent expressions for more than 5,300 terms, and West key numbers.
  • Law Stack (Free) – A “legal library for your pocket,” Law Stack comes preloaded with the U.S. Constitution, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and much more. Plus, state codes can be added to your “stack” from the apps embedded collections.
  • LawBox (Free) – Provides free access to all federal law – rules, codes and rhe Constitution. You can also purchase rules for certain jurisdictions at $4.99 each.
  • FedCtRecords ($9.99) – this is an iPhone app but completely worth the purchase for your iPad. The app provides access to your Pacer account.

I hope this summary, although not short, was helpful. Here are some additional links about top apps for lawyers.



Peggy Gruenke, LawBizCOO

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LinkedIn Tips for Lawyers #1: Specialties, Summary, Skills Expertise Sections

Samll LinkedIn_logo_1Have you taken the time to really look at your LinkedIn Profile after all the changes LinkedIn phased in during 2012? Did you notice that your Specialties Section is missing from your LinkedIn Profile?  Did you notice that if you had a Specialties Section defined in your old profile that LinkedIn has added it to the bottom of your Summary Section.

In 2012, LinkedIn decided to phase out the Specialties Section in favor of the Skills & Expertise Section. For lawyers, I think this is actually good news because of the ethical pitfalls around using the words “Specialized” or “Specialties” on any site where you advertise yourself as an attorney. According to the ABA Model Rule 7.4, claiming yourself as a specialist requires special certification by an approved, accredited authority.

Under Rule 7.4 (e) of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney must not state or imply in any communication that they are a specialist, certified or specialized in a particular field of law, unless:

    • The lawyer or law firm has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by the Supreme Court Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists; and
    • The communication clearly identifies the name of the certifying organization.

When LinkedIn added the Skills and Experience Section, it built your section based on keywords in your Summary and Specialties Sections. If you had a Specialties Section in your profile at the time LinkedIn converted your Profile to the new format, it left the heading Specialties in the bottom of your Profile Summary. If you were cautious when you first built your profile and did not include that section, then you will not see the heading Specialties in your Summary Section.

My suggestion is to check your Summary Section. If you see Specialties listed at the bottom of your Summary, replace this word with Practice Areas. If you are a Certified Specialist, then list it as such following the guidelines of Rule 7.4.

Specialties Section left over in Summary Section.


Other things you may not know:

  • From time to time, LinkedIn pulls keywords from other sections of your LinkedIn Profile and asks if you’d like to add them to your Skills & Expertise Section.
  • Other people can add a Skill to your profile.
  • LinkedIn changed how they calculate a complete profile by incorporating the addition of 3 skills as a requisite for a complete profile.

Thanks for your interest and comments. Next post will be about how to remove or hide Skills you have been endorsed for but don’t think you are qualified to list on your profile.

Peggy Gruenke | www.lawbizcoo.com | Helping Lawyers Succeed | Like me on Facebook 

IOLTA Tip #3: Properly Maintaining IOLTA Accounting Records


checkbookEvery lawyer who holds money for clients must have a system in place for maintaining and properly recording all transactions related to these funds. There are many resources available to read and review. In this article, I offer a few tips to make sure you have proper accounting procedures in place for handling client funds held in your IOLTA account.


Here are a few basic facts before discussing accounting procedures:


  • The “IOLTA” acronym stands for “Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts”;
  • The basic nature of an IOLTA account is that it is, in essence, an escrow account, for the deposit of unearned client funds. The interest earned on these accounts generates revenue for the state’s legal aid fund.


  • Lawyers are required to send itemized bills to clients at the time the lawyer withdraws funds from a trust account to pay themselves for services. These itemized bills should show:
    • the services provided with a description and dollar amount;
    • the amount withdrawn from the client’s trust account to pay the bill;
    • the amount of funds the lawyer continues to hold in the client’s trust account after withdrawal for payment of the invoice.
  • Lawyers should not make withdrawals from trust accounts by ATM or checks payable to “Cash” and are required to use pre-numbered checks.


For the trust accounting, you also need:


1)    The trust bank account balance to match the trust liability account balance.


2)    A ledger for each client’s trust balance, the total of which equals the trust bank account balance.


3)    A detailed ledger, for each client, showing the ins and outs of the trust monies.


When it comes to your trust accounting, there’s one requirement that affects lawyers and other legal professionals and doesn’t exist in most other professions. It’s called the 3-way reconciliation report. The Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to demonstrate that their financial records accurately reflect all of the transactions in which a client has given them monies “in Trust.”  The “three-way” reconciliation accomplishes this by comparing the total of the individual client ledgers and the bank charges with the balance in the check register. Both amounts should be the same. http://goentrust.com/what-is-a-3-way-reconciliation/


How  a 3-way reconciliation works:


  1. The first part of the reconciliation is the Checkbook Register.
  2. The second piece is the Bank Statement
  3. The third piece is the IOLTA Balance Register (or Trial Balance). This is a report of all client trust transactions, deposits and withdraws, showing a final balance for each client.


To complete the 3-way match you first reconcile the Checkbook Register to the Bank Statement.  The Bank Statement must match the Checkbook Register after taking into account any withdrawals or deposits that have not yet cleared the bank.  Most people are familiar with this process as it is the same as balancing your personal checkbook.


Once that is complete, you need to make sure the Checkbook Register matches the total on the IOLTA Balance Register.


The first step shows you have recorded in your checkbook all of the transactions that cleared the bank.  The second step shows you have recorded all of the transactions which affect the client’s IOLTA balance.


There are plenty of IOLTA resources out there. It’s a matter of accessing those resources. The best thing that you can do with respect to IOLTA accounting is to access the available information, and to learn as much as you can. Then, create a system for managing your IOLTA accounting, and follow, in addition to the ethical rules, your own internal procedures, which should include monthly three-way reconciliation.


Peggy Gruenke, Chief Operating Officer and Business Development. More articles available on my blog LawBizCOO.

Tip #2: IOLTA/Credit Cards – New IRS Section 6050W & How it Affects Attorneys

IOLTAContinuing my posts on best practices for IOLTA accounts/transactions, I wanted to share this information with you.  This information comes via the ABA Commission on IOLTA.

“Beginning January 2013, new IRS requirements regarding the reporting of credit card transactions will go into effect and may have the potential to negatively impact IOLTA accounts and lead to ethical violations by lawyers. Here are the key points about you will want to know about if you accept credit cards:

  1. Pursuant to the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008, credit card processing companies are required to verify and match each merchant’s federal tax identification number and her legal name with those found on file with the IRS. An EXACT match is required.
  2. For the purposes of this requirement, lawyers who accept credit card payments are considered “merchants.
  3. If there is NOT an exact match between the information provided to the credit card processing company and the information on file with the IRS, there are serious consequences:
    1. Beginning January 2013, the IRS will impose a 28% withholding penalty on all credit card transactions, including those that the lawyer directs to her IOLTA account.
    2. If client funds that should be in the IOLTA account are withheld due to the lawyer’s failure to act and thus are not available to the client on demand, ethical issues are raised.
    3. The credit card processing company should have received information from the IRS if a mismatch occurred and already notified the lawyer of the problem. However, it is not known if all processing companies have provided such notice.”

What action should you take to avoid an ethical violation in 2013:

  • Contact your credit card processor to verify that your legal name on your merchant account matches the legal name you use to file your tax returns;
  • Correct mismatches if informed of one.

For more infomration:  https://www.lawpay.com/news/irs60502.pdf

One simple change to create a WOW factor every day.

Marketing Voice Mail Messages

Everything you choose to do, or not do, has an impact on marketing your business and your client relationships. Here is a simple way to make a memorable impression every day. Have you listened to you voice mail greeting lately? Listen to it. Then have a friend or co-worker listen.  Ask them how they felt after hearing it. Does it leave them feeling energized, disappointed, hopeless, unimportant or confident their message will be treated with the level of importance they expect?

I know client service is an important part of your culture.  It has to be in order for you to be successful. Here are more tips: Marketing Tips for Getting and Keeping Clients. Have you ever thought about the impact a voice mail greeting may have on your clients – current and prospects. I was working the front desk the other day – something as the administrator of the law firm I find very valuable to occasionally do. Sitting there, taking calls, you really get the pulse of the business.  In today’s world, many client calls end up being placed in the attorney’s voicemail.  The clients are OK with leaving a message and I assure them that the attorney or paralegal will follow-up with them in a timely fashion. Then towards the end of the day, I see a pattern being revealed. The clients that called early in the morning are now calling again expressing disappointment and frustration because their attorney has not called back.

So why not build a WOW factor into your voice mail messages?  Rethink your voice mail greeting and make it memorable. Leave them with a WOW moment. I recently changed my greeting to the following:

“Hello, this is Peggy. Thank you for you call today and taking the time to leave a message. It must be important to you and I will certainly treat it as such. Our firm is committed to providing great client service. Please leave a message and I will commit to following up within 24hrs or if I am unable to, someone from the firm will follow-up with you. Have a great day.”

The comments I’ve received were quite positive and genuinely appreciative.  They find it quite refreshing and I am living our culture of great client service with every phone message I receive.

Peggy Gruenke, Chief Operating Officer and Business Development, pgruenke@lawbizcoo.com More articles available on my blog LawBizCOO.

Where’s the Money – Keep a Regular Billing Cycle to Keep the Money Coming In

By Peggy Gruenke, COO Godbey & Associates

From a previous post, not only is an informed client a happier client – they also tend to pay on time and keeping on the theme of building great client relationships to build a profitable practice – if a client gets a bill each month and pays each bill every month, you have yourself a good client relationship.

I my previous post, I described 3 types of clients in relation to getting paid: 1) Clients on retainers; 2) hourly billed clients; and 3) clients who are habitual late payers. Today I am talking about type 2 clients. These clients seem to be consistently paying as long as the invoices are getting mailed on a regular monthly cycle and there are no large chunks of previously unbilled fees showing up on an invoice.  Clients don’t like these surprises and they will perceive this as a breakdown in communication.

In your initial client meeting, in addition to discussing the hourly billing method, you should be including a discussion about the frequency of invoices, when they can expect to receive their monthly bill and payment terms.  Set the expectation. Spell it out in your fee agreement, and don’t cause your own collection problems by failing to explain your billing and payment policies at the beginning of the engagement. Edward Poll published an article about getting paid that is worth reading: http://apps.americanbar.org/lpm/lpt/articles/fin09061.shtml

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