A better way for ‘you’ to earn fees and retain more of them!
Stewart, you have managed law firms for many years; what do you think is the most important thing to take into account to ensure it is managed to the best standard?
You need an understanding of what a fee earner needs in order to earn fees in the most cost effective and efficient way. As a fee earner (non-qualified) in the past, I have first-hand experience of what I needed in order to run my caseload well. You need systems in place that not only support, but enhance the fee earning process, and a system that does not require too much hands-on minute-by-minute observation by individuals and can run on their own. Systems that always require ongoing communication with a particular person or people, are not efficient; what is needed is a great deal of autonomy for fee earners in the operation of their caseload and in their dealings with customers. Solicitors are intelligent and highly motivated and don’t like being micro-managed; a management and remuneration policy that is hands-off but carefully monitored with different targets (weekly, monthly, annually) need to be put in place to ensure the correct level of billing.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of ensuring you meet your clients’ needs?
Firstly understanding what those needs are and ensuring very effective communication from the start about the prospects, the length of time, the risks, the costs; and then ensuring that these are re-visited at regular intervals so the customer is aware and is making the decisions.
Raanan, how do you decipher on what civil litigation cases are suitable for your expertise?
I aim to take on complicated cases, either cross jurisdiction or cases with complex legal issues involving cross disciplines. I believe my strength is in managing the case to ensure its budget, progress and objectives are met.
What differences do you encounter when representing individual clients, opposed to corporate clients?
Individuals usually require far more attention in understanding the process and managing their budget. Often, they also require moral support as the process is never easy to go through.
What would you both account towards exceptional customer service?
Raanan: Speedy response time, superb communication and be proactive rather than reactive. I don’t get chased by clients and when I do, I always like telling them “you are too late – it is already done”.
Stewart: As Raanan said above, superb communication. Detailed explanations as to where we are, where we’re going and possible outcomes. Also, being fully and directly available to the customer, not hiding behind a receptionist or secretary.
In what ways was 2017 good for Berlad Graham? What accounts towards this and how will you be moving forward to ensure it carries on?
We grow by recruiting consultants and in 2017 we had three consultants joining us who have done very well and have made a tremendous positive impact.
We have had a continuation of consultants coming on board and improving the caseload of all those in the firm who are not yet up to capacity. We assist in this by promoting our consultants using social media as well as asking ALL customers to provide us with testimonials, which we then use in further promotion. As the consultants do a fantastic job; we often get positive testimonials so we can use these on a regular basis.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Being a virtual law firm, based in the cloud, all of our consultants are self-employed. We provide them, and pay for, everything they need in order to run their caseload and do nothing other than fee earning. Then as fees come in, we split them according to the percentage agreement between us. This allows the consultants to have total control over where they work and when they work and how much they want to earn, without having to travel to the office each day, without having non-fee earning duties and no office politics. Couple all of this with the fact that we give back to the consultants a very high percentage of what they earn, as our overheads are lower than a traditional law firm, and everyone is a winner.