…if you have a legitimate reason for using one, and only if you ask permission or otherwise explain your reason. Its misuse is not only rude, it raises confidentiality and other ethics issues (too often others outside your office can overhear the conversation). This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. In most of the occasions I have seen the phone used this way by lawyers, it has only further reinforced the stereotypical perception too many people have of attorneys; as in “I’m too darn important and my time is too valuable for me to pick up the receiver to talk with you.” It also exemplifies a total disregard for the feelings of the person on the other end. It is not only dumb marketing (people – whether clients, possible referral sources, or any contact – are not going to be left with a favorable impression of the experience), it certainly doesn’t help enhance your image. And that can’t help your legal marketing efforts.
In reading this week’s Time magazine’s “Biz Briefs” section, I ran across several good suggestions under Learn How To Behave. The speakerphone issue was just one, and I particularly like the suggestion on how to get the uncaring person to pick up the phone.
Other suggestions covered include:

*Shaking hands (firmly whether man or woman),
*Social Kissing (depends on culture and familiarity)
*E-mail Thank-Yous (which I have addressed before. Hand-written notes are much better),
*Drinking when guest(s) don’t (depends on situation),
*Business Cards (either wait for someone to ask for it, or ask if they would like one – don’t just hand it to them), and
*Oh yeah, and don’t talk with your mouth full of food. (gosh, Mom I remember that one).

Good manners obviously play an important role in how effective your lawyer marketing efforts will be. One solution, buy a headset. Their relatively cheap, and I have personally found that Plantronics headsets work great.