Friday, June 18, 2010

How I Practice

In the TV show M*A*S*H, there is a scene in which Colonel Potter is trying to reach a general who happens to be the head chaplain for the U.S. Army. He calls the general's office and asks for the general. He is surprised to discover that he is speaking to the general himself. Colonel Potter then utters the famous line, "The general answers his own phone. He must be a Unitarian."

I like the story .  I also answer my own phone.

I was reminded of the story last week when a prospective client called and was surprised to reach me immediately. This has happened to me a fair number of times. People calling an attorney often expect to have a receptionist answer the phone.  I usually answer my own phone.


Because people who call me want to talk to me. They don't want to talk to someone else.

The idea is the same throughout my practice. When a client comes to meet with me, they meet with me. When they email me, I respond directly. Although I regularly work with paralegals and other attorneys on certain cases, almost all contact from my firm goes through me.

I manange everything in my practice myseld.


Because it works better for both my clients and me.

It works better for clients because they get direct representation. Clients don't want to be pawned off on support staff all the time. They want contact with their primary attorney. They want to receive counsel directly from him or her.

It works better for me because I get to practice law rather than spending a lot of time supervising.  I know from my days at medium sized law firms that one of the tougher issues is "leverage" -- how many younger attorneys are being supervised by older attorneys and how many staff are being supervised by those attorneys. I would much rather spend my time practicing law than supervising a large staff. I would much rather have a reasonable number of cases and handle those well than try to be a huge bankruptcy mill that practices assembly-line law.

So when you call, don't be surprised if I answer the phone.