This observation hopefully does not apply to you or your law firm. But the recent blog post Why Your Clients Will Thank You For Investing In Law Practice Management Software from Susan Cartier Liebel really struck a nerve with me. Her husband is a client of a law firm that they believe does great work, but they probably will not use them again or refer anyone else to them because their business practices are stuck in the 1980’s and they don’t use practice management software. You might think not using practice management software is a back office thing and a client wouldn’t know the difference. If you think that, then you really need to read Susan’s post. It started with a billing error, but then the fact they couldn’t respond to a billing error without days of delay and over an hour of research revealed their billing practices were way behind the times. The embarrassment multiplied with their representation that only one person in the entire firm, a busy partner, could correct the billing error. Seriously? The standard today is your billing records should be on a dashboard accessible by at least every lawyer in the firm, if not every employee. The days of a client inquiring about their balance and being told “We will have to get back with you on that” should definitely be in the past.
At our upcoming Oklahoma Bar Association Solo & Small Firm Conference we have ten, yes TEN, sponsors who will be there offering practice management solutions. Oklahoma lawyers who are not yet using these tools will have a great opportunity to shop for their practice management solution. If you are not an OBA member, there is likely a similar conference near you and all practice management providers have online resources to help you have a purchasing decision.
The tale of poor client services that Susan encountered didn’t end with the need for more modern tools for this law firm. When they received their next statement, not only had the credit for the mistake not been applied (guess the partner was very busy that month) but they had been billed another $145 for the paralegal researching the billing error and reporting back on it. The idea that we rectify any mistakes at no charge to the client isn’t a 1980’s concept. It should be a timeless one!