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Five Star Counsel Podcast

Author: John Strohmeyer

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What would a law firm built by the founders of Disney, Four Seasons, Amazon, and Zappos look like? Lawyers (and other professionals) aren't in the same "service" industry as those companies, but that doesn't mean we can't benefit from employing their rigorous service mindsets. We give you inspiration and tactics to smooth out your processes, bolster your reputation, and increase your revenue - every episode of Five Star Counsel has actionable tips for you to build the firm that clients rave about!
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The Five Star Counsel podcast is prepping for a little break while we wrap up season two and prepare for season three, which will focus on the practical implementation of building a modern, high-level legal firm.  As we dive into the day-to-day nuts and bolts, we'll share a range of tools and methods, from budget-friendly to more costly options. We recognize that every firm is different, so we'll provide non-prescriptive guidance and explore various approaches that can be adapted to your practice. Stay tuned for the upcoming season, and let us know your specific concerns and interests by using the Typeform link below. See you in May! https://strohmeyerlaw.typeform.com/to/yNnu98Qg#episode=xxxxx ----  
Our show has tackled client service by framing it around one big question: "What would a firm created by the founders of Disney, Amazon, and Four Seasons look like?"  Today we try to summarize our Five Star Bootcamp by answering that question. Building a law firm requires starting with the business foundations of mission, vision, and values. The mission should be clear and consistent for both employees and clients. The values should guide the behavior of employees and drive the business forward. We need to provide results as a lawyer, but also humanize those results with great service  so that your firm can quickly recover from mistakes and build a strong brand.  Five star service isn't easy, but it will reward you, your employees, your clients, and ultimately, your firm's bottom line. ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
How do you handle client-facing mistakes? As much as we try to avoid them, mistakes are inevitable, even for us perfectionist attorneys. And because they are inevitable, attorneys need to have a plan for how to respond when they happen. My experience working at the Four Seasons provided a great framework for how to deal with mistakes, using "glitch reports" to document errors and review them with our staff at regular meetings. There are three steps that attorneys should take when mistakes happen: apologize and take ownership of the mistake, empathize with the client by acknowledging how the mistake has affected them, and show how you will make it right. It's important to not apologize, but also give clients a concrete plan for how you will correct the mistake and meet their needs. I conclude the episode by repeating the magic phrase I learned at the hotel: "I'm sorry this happened, but there's nothing I can say right now that will undo what has happened. What can we do to make this better?" By following these steps and showing genuine concern for their clients, attorneys can recover from mistakes and continue to provide excellent service. Closing Exercise:  Consider the last client-facing mistake you dealt with. 1. Magic Words: "There's nothing I can say that will undo what happened. What can I do now? 2. What options are there to fix things for your clients? What's in your toolkit? Should you reconsider your processes? Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
There's a common misconception and fear we see in attorneys. Attorneys can fall prey to thinking that becasue they're well-paid and well-respected, they don't need to think about making their service better. Many risk-averse, pessimist, perfectionist attorneys simply fear the potential failure that comes with change and growth.   Neither of these is a good reason to avoid thinking about improvement. This episode, we discuss the ways you can approach gradual improvement, how to identify what needs to be improved, and how to get yourself started.    We'll even tell you how you can save a bundle in consulting fees!   Closing Exercise: Ask yourself, "What can we do better?" What do you see out in the world that you've enjoyed? How can you implement or translate that to your own service? When do you ask employees for improvement suggestions? When do you ask clients for improvement suggestions?   Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Now that you have addressed your standards, and you've implemented processes that should lead to those standards being met, how do you make sure your firm is hitting your standards on an ongoing basis?   Standards won't do much for you if they're never being met. I'll walk through the ways you can think about consistency in your service, ways to measure and track consistent service, and even what do when someone is regularly missing the mark or if your standard is just too lofty to begin with.   You'll constantly be testing, measuring, and tweaking your service, with an aim to be as consistent as possible, and to deliver the same high standards, day in and day out.   Closing Exercise: How do you test yourself? We're setting up the secret shopper program.  What could be tested?  How often will you be testing?  What will you do to be sure that people know and execute?  Determine training and scoring methods.   Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Now that we've discussed the components of our firm's service, it's time to think about how we measure successful service. Setting these standards not only helps you track that everything is happening correctly, but helps your employees know if they're doing a good job. Most importantly, it helps ensure a consistent and high-quality experience for your clients.  We'll discuss touchpoints - the places where you and your client actually interact - and how to start measuring there. We'll talk about what to do if you're not hitting your standards, and how to consider adjusting your standards as your business changes. I'll get into some concrete examples that I use in my firm, but you'll really want to come up with your own standards that work for and support your firm's values, vision, and mission (see how it all comes back to those?).  Closing Exercise: What adjectives do you use to describe the delivery of your physical and technical components? Delivery is the adjectives and adverbs used to describe delivery. Let's think of three (I use "Clean, Fast, and Easy," but make these your own).       Now, how can we quantify the delivery so we can measure how it happens? Some examples: How long does it take to respond to an email? How long to get from initial meeting to draft documents?  How long to return a phone call?  How long to get an engagement letter out? Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
We've built the pieces of the machine for great service, but now it's time to focus on the fuel - your employees. People are the most important thing in your business, and we can't skimp on it. I break this episode down into two main parts: how to hire and how to train and manage. The most crucial single point is in your hiring process - most law firms hire based on skillset, which, of course, is important, but technically skilled lawyers aren't that tough to find. You want someone who understands, shares, and demonstrates your firm's values right from the get-go. At the least, someone who can get there quickly and naturally.  You don't just want someone who you'd like to have a beer with - that's not a culture fit, that's just a person you like. I'll get into the kind of questions, both technical and personal, that will determine a quality hire. Once you've got the right people, it's like a fleet of Rolls Royces. That's great, but even Rolls Royces need maintenance and tune-ups. This is where your training and management come in. How are they continuing to meet the firm's values and work toward the firm's mission? How you are managing them in a way that upholds the firm's values, works towards your vision, and keeps your employees - your firm's most valuable asset - happy, motivated, and fulfilled? Closing Exercise: How do you know you've got the right people in your firm? How are you delivering the working experience for your employees, and how do you know that they can carry out the firm mission? 1. During your hiring process, what is one behavioral interview question that you can use to evaluate for this? 2. Status check: can your employees recite your Mission and Values? 3. Schedule weekly one on one meetings with your employees. Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Have you progressed beyond the dark ages of stodgy, antiquated law practice? If you're listening to this show, I bet you have, but has your service delivery fully embraced the current experience economy? What does that even mean? Our guest, Joe Pine, is here to explain. Joe is a distinguished author, speaker, and management advisor. We focus our talk largely around his influential book, The Experience Economy, and what that means for law firm owners. As our economy has shifted from a simple commodity-based one to a much more refined experience-based economy, our offerings and service delivery must change. Joe explains the five tenets that should guide your offerings in the modern economy. You should be: 1. Robust 2. Cohesive 3. Personal 4. Engaging 5. Transformative  That final step, transformation, is crucial. You need to be defining the outcome of the experience and how you change your clients' situations. Joe explains each step in detail, and gives examples of how you can employ each one in your firm.  Find Joe at https://strategichorizons.com/, on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/joepine/, or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joepine. ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!  
Now that we've laid the groundwork for building great service, and talked about how to avoid pitfalls, we should really define the scale that we're grading service on. We are, after all, the Five Star Counsel Podcast! So what makes a "Five Star" experience? I'll give some detailed examples of what goes into an exemplary, five star experience for a law firm, and even work backwards to talk about the ways firms earn less than great reviews. All of this is setting the stage for the next few episodes, where we'll dive deep into the service component of a law business, and get into the nitty-gritty of service delivery. ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Before we dive deeper into what service is, let's take a look at what service ISN'T. I like to classify these distractions, marketing ploys, and wow-factor missteps as Red Herrings. This is something that you give to your client that doesn't actually move the needle for them.   Your law firm isn't a procurement agent, so don't buy stuff for clients that they didn't need as a part of your service. The misconception we've got to address here is that great service means great gifts, or over the top moments of shock and surprise. Or that you have to wow a big client with fancy touches and palatial offices. It's just not true.   I'll walk through a handful of common red herrings that come up in the legal field, and differentiate service from marketing (marketing is okay too!) from flat-out wasted money and time.   Closing exercise: Examine your firm's red herrings and eliminate the things that aren't moving the needle for your clients or your bottom line.   Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
What does it mean to have "your process"? How do you make sure that everyone on your team knows what to do, and when to do it? We're getting in the weeds on how to set up your practice so you know what's happening with all of your clients, at a glance. The reason we're spending the time on this is to make sure that everybody on your team knows where every client is at their particular stage in the process. Most of us will have many more than just one client, and we need to be able to know who is responsible for what and that person needs to know what happens next in our process. Your process is indelibly tied to service - it creates a framework for repeatable, predictable service for each client and a failsafe to keep things from slipping through the cracks. Closing Exercise: What is your firm's process? How are you going to manage the forest? Detail out your actual stages and who is responsible for each within each practice area of your firm. Find a copy of John's stages on this episode's podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Five Star Counsel recorded live from Clio Cloud Con 2022 in Nashville, TN! We'll be talking with experts and execs in the legal community about what's next and how it will shape the future of client service. We were joined by Clio's VP of Financial Services, Ben Brideaux to chat about what he sees happening in the payment space around legal services.  I think most attorneys know that getting clients to pay and handling those payments is a challenge. But largely, payments are an afterthought in client service. If we want to meet the client where they are, payment is part of that - 65% of clients want online payments and 72% want payment plans! Ben shares how Clio and the modern legal industry at large are making payments more frictionless, simple, and giving everyone more choice. Find Ben on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/benbrideaux/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Now that we've defined our firm's mission, vision, and values, we need to really hone in on exactly HOW we help our clients and how we measure it. How exactly do we move the needle for our clients and define success? As customers grow more savvy, the legal industry is not immune - potential clients have problems, and they want to know that this expensive work is going to solve them. It's not enough to assure a client that you do mysterious shadowy work for them, bill them for it, and that they'll be better off in the end. You need to spell out where they are, the problems you're going to solve, and what success looks like. I'll discuss how expert status and the idea of Value Over Replacement Professional (VoRP) plays into this, and ways you can turn a potentially unknown and vague conclusion into a clear path of value for your client. I know you probably can't guarantee a particular outcome for your client as an attorney, but you CAN spell out what your client's journey from problem to potential solution looks like. You can even guarantee your work, even if you can guarantee a legal outcome.  Closing Exercise: Define your needle and your guarantee.  1. What problems do your clients come to you to solve? Where do your clients get stuck in the process? And how can you help them get past those problems more easily?  2. How will people know if you've succeeded? Have you defined "success"? 3. We've created the Estate Score so people know what we've accomplished. What kind of qualitative/quantitative, concrete value increase can you demonstrate to your client? 4. Even if you can't guarantee an outcome, can you guarantee your work? Your service? Your client's satisfaction? Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Five Star Counsel recorded live from Clio Cloud Con 2022 in Nashville, TN! We'll be talking with experts and execs in the legal community about what's next and how it will shape the future of client service. We were joined by data guru and Clio's in-house Decision Scientist, Nika Kabiri, who walked us through The Top 6 Factors Clients Use When Hiring a Firm, as determined while collecting data for this year's Legal Trends Report. Nika used client feedback and data metrics to order the six factors thusly: 1. Reviews - These matter most by far. Specificity and authenticity in the review is most valuable, and total numbers of reviews may scale based on practice area, geography, etc. 2. Geography/proximity to clients - This makes sense, especially where particular jurisdictions are a factor. 3. Responsiveness - People hate uncertainty, and you can minimize it with communication, by prioritizing returning calls and emails, and systematizing your responses.  4. Billing type - Alternative billing structures like flat fee or subscription may remove uncertainty and open doors for certain clients. 5. Schedule availability - Flexibility in meeting hours and allowing virtual can be a factor for some.  6. Commercial office space - Almost completely negligible, and did not make a significant impact to potential clients. Find Nika on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikakabiri/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Your Mission is your guidance for your future clients as to you act for them. This will guide *their* decision to reach out and hire you and your practice. The idea that your firm can do anything really means your firm can do nothing - you won't stand out. You need to know what you do best, and so do employees and clients. It helps you stand out and build towards your goal. No matter the size, style, or area of practice of your firm, you will benefit from a clear and explicit mission visible to your clients. Your mission should be front and center on your web page on your home page and for my website you'll see it's right there as the first thing in bold text. We'll talk about what should go into your mission, share some disparate examples from Four Seasons and McDonalds, and share my "top 3 in the city" philosophy on specialization. Closing Exercise: What's your mission? Finish this sentence. We help [targeted clients] [solve targeted problem]. What's the mountaintop that you're actually helping clients to get to?  What pain point(s) do you address? How does your firm solve that problem?  Who are your clients?  Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on the podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper!
Five Star Counsel recorded live from Clio Cloud Con 2022 in Nashville, TN! We'll be talking with experts and execs in the legal community about what's next and how it will shape the future of client service. We were very excited to be joined by Clio Co-Founder and CEO Jack Newton for a dive into his latest  We define and make distinctions between client service and experience and discuss how to make your service delivery CREATE the experience you want your clients to have.  Jack pulls lessons from his earlier workshop session at ClioCon and gives concrete tips and examples of the ways service can work for the experience you want your firm to deliver.  We discuss how process is related to and dictates your client's experience and journey. We talk about annoyance mapping and how it can help remove friction points from your service. We lastly get into how iteration, experimenting, and a willingness to fail on small levels can be a key to your success. Find materials from Jack's workshop at https://community.clio.com/ and find Jack on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackbnewton/ or Twitter at https://twitter.com/jack_newton    
Five Star Counsel is live from Clio Cloud Con 2022 in Nashville, TN! We'll be talking with experts and execs in the legal community about what's next and how it will shape the future of client service. We'll start the week by welcoming Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence at Clio, to discuss the 2022 Legal Trends Report. We'll get a deep dive into the survey and Clio usage data collected around work/life balance, and stats on flexible, expanded work hours and workdays. Firms leaning into a self-managed workday will likely be the most successful in hiring and retaining great staff. Office use has dropped dramatically, never having returned to 2019 levels. Law firms are becoming a state of mind, less a physical place. They also found higher level of satisfaction from firms using cloud-based legal management software, Clio or otherwise. Lawyers delegating more and less time being business managers. Lastly we discuss how clients and lawyers prefer to handle payments in today's market, and how a preference for flat fees, clear budgets, and subscription models may present opportunities for your firm.
When we think about the three-legged stool that makes up each of our practices, we think about the owners (which is probably you listening to this podcast right now), our employees (the staff who helps us build this), and our clients (the people we are serving) We first talked about our vision, which is what guides us as the owners of the practice in what we're building. VALUES are what our employees will use to guide their actions on a daily basis. Think of values as how you build culture - culture is how you consistently act, and values are the basis of your culture and provide guidance to your employees when you are not there. Occasionally your employees are going to be in situations where you haven't specifically prepped them for. The values should guide them in making the right decision every time or at least a close- enough-to-right decision that the client gets what they need until your employee can get a better answer. These are simple maxims that guide your firm's behavior and help make good choices. Let's not confuse the firm's values with your own personal values. Personal values may be occasionally at odds with your firm's (or with any job, or work in general). Closing Exercise: Values are the shorthand for how your firm behaves. What are they?  Write two sentences about what that means Include two examples of what that looks like in practice.  Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on our podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper! Join John and Five Star Counsel at Clio Cloud Con on October 10-11th in Nashville, TN! Click this link to save $300 on your registration! http://www.eventbrite.com/e/177608530897/?discount=Five-Star-Counsel-Podcast
The first three modules of the Five Star Bootcamp address three core building blocks for your firm's success - your firm's VISION, VALUES, and MISSION. This episode covers your firm's VISION. Your Vision is guidance for you, the owner. What are you building towards? This will guide your behavior as you build your practice, even if it's just a practice inside a larger firm.  This may seem very obvious and fluffy, but we're here to set out where you, as the leader of your practice, are going. That practice may be one person, it may be 100. But we need to get down in writing what your ideal, successful firm should look like.  We want to detail what your firm's mountaintop is, but not why are you're trying to get there. You'll have whatever exterior goals you want (work less, more money, etc), but you as the owner wouldn't share that with the employees because it doesn't serve the firm. You wouldn't tell a prospective employee that the firm exists so I can work less. As the leader of your practice, your job is to align the resources available to get to that mountaintop. This is what you're building towards, and why you're making the particular choices you make. Exercise: What does your ideal firm look like, in your words? 1. How many employees? 2. Expert or volume practice? 3. Expert status? 4. What is your goal for the practice (even if you're inside a larger practice?) 5. Whom do you serve, and how do you serve them? 6. What don't you do? Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on our podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper! Join John and Five Star Counsel at Clio Cloud Con on October 10-11th in Nashville, TN! Click this link to save $300 on your registration! http://www.eventbrite.com/e/177608530897/?discount=Five-Star-Counsel-Podcast
We're thrilled to be starting our 7-week bootcamp for your firm’s service, all based on the grand unifying theory of Five Star Counsel.   This first module is a high-level overview of our approach to client service, why great service crucial in today's legal market, and how to think of your firm as a three-legged stool - something we'll be incorporating in every future episode.   Most small/solo firm owners know they have room to improve their service, but determining how and where to begin is tough. John explains how we can look to amazing service companies like Four Seasons or Disney or Zappos for *inspiration*, but we shouldn't be blindly copying their tactics.    You don't need to go above and beyond for every client or dazzle them with unexpected delights and services. You are hired to solve your client's problem, and you need to focus your firm on doing that in the most attentive, effective, thoughtful, communicative, and consistent way possible.    We'll end every module with a brief exercise to help you incorporate the lessons and reflect on your firm's current status and goals.   This week, John asks you to write down the three biggest areas where your firm can improve service.   If John could give you a magic wand, what are the top three things you would change about the service your firm delivers right now?   Now answer that from the position of your employees.   Last, answer from the viewpoint of your clients.   Find a PDF worksheet for each episode's exercise on our podcast page at https://strohmeyerlaw.libsyn.com/ ----- FiveStarCounsel.com Ask a question and we'll answer on the show! Get our FREE client service whitepaper! Join John and Five Star Counsel at Clio Cloud Con on October 10-11th in Nashville, TN! Click this link to save $300 on your registration! http://www.eventbrite.com/e/177608530897/?discount=Five-Star-Counsel-Podcast
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