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December 02, 2008

"If you can't steal our clients, you're fired."


If you find this performance review idea preposterous, please ask yourself why.

We first mentioned the title's idea in a 2006 post. It attracted attention--but many people thought we were kidding.

We weren't.

There are lots of suggestions out there on standards, guidelines and take-aways for associate reviews. Two are (a) letting staff evaluate co-workers and partners on specific inter-office skills in writing, and (b) reviews of staff based on specific client service standards which ALL employees must buy into (i.e., pay increase for well done client service; hit the road, for the unwilling, clueless). But we still like this one--which is no more discretionary and arbitrary than (a) and (b) above:

Every day, the client service by associates and paralegals should be good enough to permit those employees to actually steal any client, and take them to another law firm (use "transport" for "steal" if you need the PC professional services term), if they were to leave your shop tomorrow morning. Period.

If you are not, in effect, willing to go that far with your own employees in instituting and daily demanding client service, you are neither confident about client loyalty (not to mention employee loyalty) nor really serious about delivering superior client service to your clients. And your employees aren't in the game; they are not engaged in the work for clients, they are not stepping up. A true client service culture has to be that "extreme". So let "them that can" whisk those clients out of your firm with a phone call or two; after all, that's only fair to the clients, if they so decide. If you find this idea preposterous, radical or just too disturbing, please think very hard about what you are really doing at your firm, and your real commitment, to build and lead a true client service culture.

At your shop, is "client service" just drinks-and-dinner b.s. for the clients, and website-and-brochure lip service for the public? Or is it real?

Posted by JD Hull at December 2, 2008 09:59 PM


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