Want your team actively engaged in the success of your estate planning firm, not just in being worker bees intent on getting work done? Lead with transparency and data. Give them high level information about the firm. If they are not billing enough hours to cover their salary, show them the numbers. If you collect client reviews and they are not fantastic, focus on getting to great. Share what information you have about your competitors, both online legal services and other firms in your community, and why your firm is at risk.
The last thing that your estate planning clients want to hear about is that something has gone wrong. You don’t want to hear about it either, because you rely on your trusted team to get the job done right. And you care about your estate planning clients, the reputation of your firm and the consequences of those mistakes: lost clients, lawsuits, malpractice charges, bar censure.
But we all know that things do go wrong. They should not, but they do. What’s your recovery plan?
Clients. How you handle client errors depends on the severity of the error, the impact that it will have, and knowing your client’s personality and tolerance level. First and foremost is taking full responsibility. Your name is on the door, so you take the blame.
Repercussions to the person who made the mistake. What happens to the person who made the mistake is not your client’s concern. They need to know that the problem has been fixed, immediately, and that any problems created by the mistake will be handled, also immediately, by your firm. No excuses or explanations. If they insist, keep it brief.
Why internal matters should be kept internal. Your role as a leader in the firm is to know the skills, strengths and weaknesses of your team. If you have a bad paralegal or associate (or worse, partner!), it is your responsibility to get rid of that person BEFORE they do something that harms a client. Not after. Your reputation and your practice is on the line. If you need help with leadership skills, we can help.
Team building, team break-down. Champagne and cheese doodle parties are a regular feature at one estate planning firm that believes in celebrating victories large and small. Yes, it’s silly, but that’s the point. A law firm leader balances positives and negatives. The happier your team is, the better the quality of their work.
Do you have underperformers? Address the issue. Far too many people leave law firms because other employees are not held accountable for poor performance. Good employees will only tolerate what they see as an unfair situation for so long. Don’t lose a great employee for a slacker!