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April 30, 2014

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

At this blog, neither our writers nor anyone at Hull McGuire ever set out to be customer/client service experts or gurus. We are not experts or gurus on the subject. (Besides, most of the service rubric, with gems like "client care" and "customer experience", sounds a little like Mr. Rogers Goes to Law School.) However, based on actual experience lawyering, we wrote and published 12 Rules of Client Service in installments during a six-month period starting in October 2005.

The 12 rules do seem to have legs. We are flattered. In whole or in part, they regularly appear in publications and sites for lawyers and non-lawyers (e.g., accounting and real estate). They also get play every now and then in a book. Some folks who discuss, quote or mention them like all 12 rules. Others like one or two in particular. Our favorite? It's Rule Four: Deliver Legal Work That Change the Way Clients Think About Lawyers. It's our "Harry Beckwith" rule. Beckwith was a huge influence on how we could see making changes in lawyering--and the idea here is really his, not ours. An excerpt from Rule 4:

Why try "to exceed expectations" when the overall lawyer standard is perceived as low to mediocre? If your clients are all Fortune 500 stand-outs, and the GCs' seem to love you and your firm, is that because your service delivery is so good--or because other lawyers they use are so "bad" on service? Why have a low standard, or one that merely makes you look incrementally more responsive and on top of things than the boutique on the next floor up? Why not overhaul and re-create the whole game?

If you read the better writers on selling and delivering services, like Harry Beckwith in Selling The Invisible, you pick up on this simple idea: Rather than under-promise/over-deliver, why not change the way people think of lawyers generally and what they can expect from them generally? Get good clients--those clients you like and want--to keep coming back to you by communicating in all aspects of your work that you care deeply about your lawyering for them, you want to serve their interests on an ongoing basis and that it's a privilege to be their lawyer. Show them you fit no lawyer mold.

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Posted by JD Hull at April 30, 2014 03:06 PM

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