What is Great Customer Service in the Legal Profession?

NeuwirthLawCase Matters, Law Practice Management, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability, Slip and Fall, Standard of Care

Great customer service is a critical element of my business. I cannot compete with Morgan and Morgan for stupid ads. I cannot offend people like Top Dog Law. I cannot gather as many negative yelp reviews or complaints to the disciplinary board of Pennsylvania as my larger competitors. But, what I can do is listen to what you are going through, connect the dots to what I think your future medical condition will look like, and coach you through the process of getting better and getting compensation for your injuries. People come to me disappointed in other large law firms because they simply could never talk to a lawyer. Their calls were “managed” by a claims paralegal and nobody took the time to update them on what was going on in their cases.

I was born in New York City. I am impatient and demanding by nature. To call me contrary bear is a badge of honor. When I was in my first semester in law school my contracts professor called on me in one of the first classes of the year to grill me about a case in our homework assignment. The professor called randomly on me in front of a class of my fellow 1L’s or first year students. He asked me questions and I gave him my responses. In his sardonic manner he finished the questioning by saying, “You are planning a career in litigation, Mr. Neuwirth?” I had no idea what he was talking about. To me, being confrontational or contrary was simply the way I was. It is who I am. I ended up in the Queens District Attorney’s Office in New York City. The professor was right and more insightful than me.

Anyway, for the most part, I expect and demand really good customer service if I am paying for it. I don’t like being treated like crap and I don’t think anyone does. However, if you cannot talk to a lawyer on your case and you are going to pay them a big chunk of your settlement, how do you know if you are being treated well or poorly? You don’t. As a personal injury lawyer, I have to balance a volume of cases that are in a wide variety of stages. Some just came in and some are on the eve of trial. But, and it is a big but, by the time we get to trial, I want my client to understand what has happened along the way in their case. I want them to know that they said something harmful to their case in the medical records or that a jury may not believe their lost earnings are real, or they made a weak or poor impression at their deposition. Surprising a client at the end of the case is poor customer service.

Do you send expert reports to your clients? I do sometime and sometimes I don’t. That depends on the client and their educational level. But, I really try to keep everyone in my case load aware that I know their case and want them to understand that their case is moving along as expected. For most clients, this is the only interaction that they have with the legal system other than watching tv. I have a habit of telling people that there will be no action on their case for three months after we file suit and I will work on other people’s cases during that time. I also have a habit of telling people that what we lawyers call a “jurisdictional limit” is just a legal requirement. When I send a complaint to a client to review, the first question from everyone is always, “Do you think my case is only worth $50,000?”  In fact, we have to tell the Court whether the case is worth more or less than $50,000. It means nothing more than that, but telling the client ahead of time the answer shows the client that I have their concerns and questions uppermost in my mind.