I have always enjoyed my friend Dan Hull’s What About Clients? blog. Yesterday, I was drawn to his site because he was kind enough to have mentioned a recent post of mine on how small and mid-sized firms can compete with larger firms. 

While there I spotted one of his posts of more than a year ago, that is so totally on point with a speech/training session that I will be doing at a California firm later this week, I just had to write about it.

His focus and mine is on the importance of remembering that the client is king. Dan’s post “The 12 Rules of Client Service” is taken from his firm’s Practice Guide that was written for associates and paralegals. The 12 rules are (details or comments in parentheses):

1. Represent only clients you like.

(As Dan points out, you won’t do good work for very long for a client you do not like.)

2. The client is the main event.

(“If client (or customer) ‘primacy’ were really the organizing principle for everything we do, isn’t that in our interest, too? Doesn’t that mean that the work is better, law firm staff and attorneys are pulling in the same direction, morale is good, we spend less time and money on marketing, we keep good clients and we attract new ones?

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

(This can be done with an amusing, but informative Practice Guide that every new employee reads.)

4. Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

(by overcoming the stereotype thinking about lawyers, by changing the way clients think of lawyers by communicating that you care “deeply” about lawyering and that it’s a privilege serving them.)

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

(For the purpose of keeping them totally informed, unless of course the client doesn’t want to such service.)

6. When you work, you are marketing.

(Everything you do reflects on you as a lawyer, and your actions will greatly determine whether you will get repeat work and/or referrals to other potential clients.)

7. Know the client.

(get to know the client by visiting their office and learning more about them, their business/industry, and their problems and concerns – off the clock of course.)

8. Think like the client–help control costs.

(REALLY help the client keep legal costs down, with a long-term relationship in mind; and share that goal with the client.)

9. Be there for clients–24/7.

(Enough said.)

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely–but not perfect.

(Clients likely can’t afford it. A satisfactory result in the clients mind often does not require perfection. Of course, we’re not talking about mistakes, rather lawyering that is successful without being perfect.)

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

(Clients like teams (theirs and yours) that play nice together in the sand box. It makes tough situations easier to transition, and causes less stress. Most importantly, it makes for a “more joyous place to work.”)

12. Have fun.

(If you can’t, then you are not doing the kind of work you enjoy for the kinds of clients you want to work with.)

If your firm is small to mid-size, let me assure you that you can definitely compete with large law firms when you follow Dan’s 12 rules.