Avoid Bad Reviews By Requesting Client Feedback

During a recent CLE program entitled “Reputation Management and Online Reviews” we asked the attendees if they sent satisfaction surveys to their clients, during or at the close of representation. No one raised their hand.

Are Your Clients Happy?

Do you know if your clients are happy with your work? Have you asked?  When clients feel they have no platform to voice their dissatisfaction with a lawyer, they turn to the internet to air their complaints. This can have disastrous effects for lawyers, who have fairly limited recourse when a former client leaves a negative review on AVVO or Yelp. The solution? Give the client a means of providing feedback throughout the course of your involvement with them. By getting ahead of dissatisfaction, you can proactively protect your online reputation.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best times to ask a client for feedback is when you send them their monthly bill. By making your invoice more user-friendly and combining it with a customer satisfaction survey, you not only increase the likelihood that the client will actually take the time to fill it out, but you can streamline the processes to increase billing transparency.  Another opportunity to collect feedback about the representation is at the close of the matter.

Touch Point #1 – The Bill

Clients value specificity in billing, so be as clear as possible when invoicing. Tell them what work was done, what team members performed the work, and how much it cost. Allow your clients to feel like they’re a part of a team with a more personalized experience, and satisfaction rates will grow. Especially as the legal world begins to meld with the internet, clients crave personalization and personality in a professional landscape where they might not even enter your firm’s office once throughout the course of representation. E-introducing them to the attorneys and paralegals working for them is a great way to bridge that gap!

Matt Homann, Founder & CEO of Filament, compiled a great example of streamlined bill/survey mailing you could send to clients. Note how user-friendly his example appears – no legalese, no confusion. It’s simple but attractive, and provides names and faces to the legal team working for the client. The feedback section is short but perfectly adequate for voicing complaints or compliments.

Check it out: https://medium.com/the-non-billable-hour/still-rethinking-lawyers-bills-dd41c3e9dfce

You can mail or email a form like Homann’s, or you can use an online platform like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to gather feedback. These are great tools for creating a survey because they allow you to track responses and get an overall sense of your “rating” as a firm – they aren’t individual emails or forms that someone in the firm has to spend time aggregating into workable data. Remember to keep your survey simple. Consider the categories and a scale on which you want clients to rate you and make it straightforward.

I’m a big fan of how Homann’s feedback form begins by asking the client to rate the firm based on several concrete commitments outlined by the firm. Not only does this keep feedback quantifiable, but you are able to set the standards upon which your work is weighed. He still gives the client an opportunity to freely voice their feedback below the report card, but it’s limited to just one question and three blank lines. This helps ensure that the feedback you receive will be helpful to you, and limits the likelihood of off-the-wall, rambling responses.  You want feedback, but you specifically want useful feedback. By providing the client with some structure, you better your odds of receiving it.

Touch Point #2 – The Closing Letter

Along with the closing letter, take the opportunity to once again ask the client for feedback (see a sample). This can also include information such as “would you refer our firm to a friend?” and other information useful for client development such as “where did you hear about us?”. The feedback information can help the firm ensure improvements in customer service in the future. While it is difficult to objectively compare one law firm to another, customer service can be a distinguishing factor.  Once the survey is complete be sure to ask happy clients to review the firm on AVVO, Yelp or GoogleMyBusiness.


Always remember, simplicity is key! It might seem like adding another step to an already busy workday, but by giving clients a platform to feel they’re complaints are heard, you can prevent bad reviews from popping up online. Take charge of your online reputation by stopping bad reviews before they start!

Tip of the Month: What You Should Know About the Equifax Breach*

There are many, many lessons being learned from the recent Equifax breach – reputational, legal and technological.  Much has been written and much will be written about the effects of this massive exposure of personal information that, once exposed, could lead to identify theft, tax fraud and more. Let’s break it down. Following is an annotated guide.

Who is Equifax?

Did my data get exposed?

What should Equifax have done (versus what they have done)?

How did this happen?

What should I do?

What does this mean for lawyers?

What happens to Equifax?

Why do we persist in using DL numbers and social security numbers as unique identifiers?


*Thanks to Dan Cotter for his review and help with this Tip!

Two Phone Lines, One Smart Phone with the Ruby App

Post sponsored by Ruby Receptionists and written by Diana Stepleton, VP, Partner Engagement

Today’s lawyers are more mobile than ever. They are being pulled in a dozen directions: taking client calls, appearing in court, and working on the go. Are you prepared with everything you need to get work done, anytime and anywhere? Before you’re ready to take on the (mobile) world, you’ll need to make a few decisions.

One Phone or Two?

Are you carrying two phones or taking client calls on your personal mobile number? Carrying a single phone that handles all of your calls, personal and professional, can blur the lines between work life and home life. It’s much easier to convince yourself to handle client calls outside of business hours when your phone is already in your hand. There’s the challenge of having your personal cell number listed, resulting in business solicitation calls to your private number. Add the question of professionalism and it’s clear that running your business with a single number isn’t for everyone.

On the other side of the coin, having two phones also comes with its own set of problems. The most obvious of which is the simple—and probably familiar—struggle of keeping track of both devices. Silencing, answering, forwarding calls, taking messages – plus keeping them both charged! It can be a lot to handle.

So, what’s the solution?

Two lines, one phone! A two-in-one deal gives you everything you need to run your personal life and your business. It empowers you to better route and manage your calls. Many small business owners turn to a call-forwarding service , forwarding their published business number to a personal cell phone.

One other simple solution for a two-line plan for your cell phone is Ruby Receptionists’ Choose Your Caller ID feature.

Choose Your Caller ID with Ruby Receptionists

If you don’t know Ruby Receptionists, Ruby is a virtual receptionist service—a team of customer service experts devoted to building trust with every caller—making current and potential clients feel special while making you look good.   The friendly, professional live receptionists can answer with your custom greeting, transfer callers to you wherever you are, take messages, collect intake, make follow up calls, and more.

The Ruby mobile app is part of every Ruby plan. The app acts as your telephone command center, allowing you to change when/where you are taking calls, see your calls and messages at a glance, and select which number you want to dial out from.

With Choose Your Caller ID, you can dial out from your personal cell phone as if you were calling from your business phone. The number appearing on the caller ID matches the number you’ve published for your business—callers never know the difference! And what if you are making a personal call and want your cell number to appear? Not a problem! You’re given a choice of numbers every time you call out from the Ruby mobile app.

The benefits of Choose Your Caller ID include:

  • Having two lines on a single phone—allowing you to keep your personal number to yourself, while still managing your business from the same device.
  • More freedom, flexibility, and savings—Choose Your Caller ID eliminates the need for an office phone. Ruby can provide you with a local number or host your current number, empowering you to leave your landline (and its bills) in the past.
  • Superior call quality—The Ruby app routes calls through the cellular network rather than over WiFi, giving you a more reliable calling experience, with fewer dropped calls and better sound quality.

Further, Ruby can host your business number for you free, eliminating the need for a carrier. Don’t have a business number yet? Even simpler—Ruby can provide you with one. The price? Also free! You’ll have the flexibility and freedom of two phones without the hassle or worry of juggling devices.

With the Choose Your Caller ID feature, you’ll bring all of your business-related phone bills down to one service and one device: Ruby and a cell phone!  Members of the Chicago Bar Association receive exclusive pricing –to learn more visit www.callruby.com/chicagobar, or contact the Ruby team at hello@callruby.com or 866-611-7829.

Ruby Receptionists

Ruby Receptionists

Legal Tech #TBT – Special Prince Edition courtesy of Jim Calloway

Prince’s passing has all of us sad, but Director of Management Assistance Program at Oklahoma Bar Association and Legal Services Consultant, Jim Calloway is making us nostalgic with his post, Legal Technology Like It’s 1999. It’s a fond look back at all the law office technology from the year Prince paid tribute to. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Checkout his post here: http://www.lawpracticetipsblog.com/2016/04/legal-technology-like-its-1999.html

Expand Your Practice with Client Centric Strategies

Preserving the old ways from being abused.
Protecting the new ways, for me and for you.
What more can we do?
- The Kinks, Village Green Preservation Society

Lawyers in Chicago can look forward to Spring for change and renewal – and the Client Centric Strategies conference on 4/15 at the Chicago Bar Association! The headlines in the legal news consistently speak of the changing legal marketplace, whether meeting the needs of the modest means client or learning to solve problems for clients with the help of automation, artificial intelligence, and expert systems. Have you heard about the need for change, but haven’t done it yet because you are waiting for guidance, help, or to see who goes first? Well, there are lawyers who have taken the opportunities to expand their client base and embrace change by leveraging alternative fees, proactive legal services, unconventional law firm business entities, document automation and more to provide quality services and help close the justice gap. On April 15 at the Chicago Bar Association we have invited some of these lawyers – from Chicago and beyond – to talk about what they have done and what they have learned. Then we will invite you to discuss ideas and concerns to help move the conversation from thought to finish, focusing on building resources and tool kits to provide lawyers the guidance they need to move forward. You will leave with practical and ready to use resources to help you get out in front of the changes happening around the profession in a way that is good for both you and your clients.

Sessions will have breakout discussions and include:

  • Lessons from the Client Perspective: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services
  • Redefining the Role of the Lawyer through Preventive Lawyering, Legal Health Checks and Group/Prepaid Legal Plans
  • Compensation Models
  • Emerging Delivery Models
  • and more!

Trevor Clarke, The Chicago Bar Foundation
Margaret Duval, Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
Eleanor “Nora” Endzel, Endzel Law, LLC
Bob Glaves, The Chicago Bar Foundation
Karin Galldin, Canadian Bar Association
Will Hornsby, American Bar Association
Fred Headon, Canadian Bar Association; Air Canada
Conor Malloy, SMNP Law, LLP
Catherine Sanders Reach, The Chicago Bar Association
Nicolle L. Schippers, ARAG North America, Inc.
Sara Smith, American Bar Association
Bert “Tiger” Whitehead, Access Legal Care, PLLC

Learn more and register now at the Chicago Bar Association website

Looking for some immediate guidance?  See the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Pricing Toolkit:

And some food for thought:

Let’s go beyond the discussion and move to action, learning from leaders who have started forging the path to change.


Never Miss a Message with Outlook Search Folders

One of the biggest problems with email is that not everything that comes to your inbox is of equal importance. Email from certain clients needs to be addressed right away; messages from co-counsel need to be referred to repeatedly, yet all of this correspondence gets buried under a barrage of e-newsletters and less important correspondence. Outlook “Search Folders” solves this problem. With Outlook “Search Folders,” specified emails are always available no matter where the emails are located (folders, inbox, sent mail). Microsoft by default creates generic search folders such as “Unread mail” and “mail flagged for follow up”. Users can customized more search folders by following instructions to create “Mail from and to specific people,” or “Mail from specific people”. However, the most powerful and useful search folders are likely to be custom search folders. Here’s how to create them:


In Mail, click “Search Folders.”


Click New Search Folder, and a new window will appear. From the “Select a Search Folder” list, you can select several default options, like “Unread mail,” “Mail from and to specific people,” “Mail from specific people” and “Mail sent directly to me.” To create a Custom Search Folder scroll towards the bottom and select ” Create a custom search folder” and then select the “Choose” button.



In the window that appears, type a name for your custom Search Folder, and click Criteria, and then select the options that you want.



The Messages tab contains criteria on the message content or properties, such as sender, keywords, or recipients.



The More Choices tab contains criteria on other message conditions, such as importance, flags, attachments, or categorization.



Enter in your specific criteria, and then press “OK.” You’ll see the new Search Folder listed below “Search Folders,” but you can drag it under “Inbox” or add it to “Favorites” by right clicking and choosing “Show in Favorites” in the menu so that the search folder is always at the top of your screen.

Tech Tip: Create A Table Of Contents From PDF Bookmarks

Bookmarks in a PDF are very helpful for readers to navigate to different sections of a document. They also lets the document creator highlight areas for readers to “jump” to without having to page through the document. Whether you are using Adobe Acrobat or Nuance Power Converter Pro, the process to create bookmarks is nearly identical. You can add bookmarks manually  by selecting text in the document and press keys <ctrl+b> to add that text as a bookmark, or you can also have either program recognize Microsoft Word’s Styles and automatically add headers and subheaders as bookmarks. Microsoft Word Styles can also be used to generate a table of contents in the originating Word document and in the PDF version of the original document. However, there are many times where the source documents have no table of contents or several documents are combined into a single PDF.  Lawyers may want to also generate a hyperlinked and printable table of contents, and Nuance’s PowerPDF Advanced will easily create a hyperlinked table of contents from the PDF bookmarks you create.

Once you have created your bookmarks in Nuance PowerPDF Advanced, with the bookmarks view opened  click on the wrench icon in the Bookmarks tools menu.  Toward the bottom of the options that appear click to  create a “Table of Contents”. Use the settings to choose how it looks and how many levels deep to display. Once those decisions have been made click “ok” and then decided where you want the Table of Contents to be (first page, after the cover page, etc.). Voila a hyperlinked, automatically generated paginated table of contents will be inserted into your document.  Once you have created the TOC you have options to update it, or export it as a separate document in PDF.

Click to expand

Create Table of Contents from Bookmarks


Two words you need to use more often.

Allow me to reintroduce you to two of the most powerful words in your vocabulary: http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16386463

No & Help

These two words can dramatically impact the success of your career, business and quality of life. First try to ignore your brain’s initial perception of the words themselves.

Repeat after me “No is not a dirty word.” Early in my career the CEO and founder of the technology firm where I worked said this to me on our elevator ride out of the building one day. He had entered the elevator, calm, cheerful and ready to take on the weekend. While I was buried in my email, phone buzzing away all while I fished for my keys so I could go and pick up equipment we needed for a weekend project. He explained that sometimes it is better to say no, than to take on something that doesn’t quite fit into your wheelhouse, overload your schedule or step outside of your delivery comfort zone. Even if it’s for an important client. What’s more important to the business and what drives a higher quality of life is focus and execution. As we walked through the building doors, he looks over and says “Say it.” I reluctantly repeated “No is not a dirty word” pausing for a second to really think about it. He smiled, and walked away wishing me a good weekend.

When I got into my car, I began to think about my week. How many of the meetings, projects and tasks could have been more appropriately scheduled, delegated or just plain denied? What other work, business development or client satisfaction goals could have been met with just a little more bandwidth to focus?

It is normal to feel compelled to help with nearly everything co-workers or clients ask for. Realizing that it’s not expected, and sharing honest reasons for saying no is a completely normal course of action. But overburdening yourself, wearing your team too thin, and not making time to concentrate of the basic needs of your business is a recipe for disaster. So, one more time, please repeat after me “No is not a dirty word.”  Look at your schedule today, this week, or upcoming month. Are there projects, meetings or looming deadlines hanging over your head? Maybe some are there because we couldn’t say no? It’s ok, here’s where the second part of our lesson comes in.

Help. A word that we associate with situations that include fire, drowning victims, generally horrible and scary circumstances. In actuality help is a word we should be using on nearly a daily basis. None of us truly understand the power of the human condition, or expanse of our own network until we use this word.

Help isn’t just for emergencies, it’s for collaboration, cooperation, evolution and adaptation. Why bang your head against the wall trying to solve a problem for days, while you relay empty excuses to the client or awaiting parties? Just ask for help. Smoke signal, Facebook, Linked In, Google, You Tube, text, call, email whatever way you feel comfortable reaching out, just do it. Sitting around waiting for a miracle to fall from the sky isn’t going to make it happen. Worse, sitting alone stewing about a problem, wallowing in your own self-doubt, pity or projects only compounds your feelings of despair and desperation. Being a business owner, independent professional or working in an environment where you are isolated a majority of the time makes it easy to get lost in work, forgetting how many wonderful people there are in this world that would be happy to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Asking for help expands your base of knowledge, strengthens existing skills, educates us about new tools and gives us a chance to connect with people. You just have to know where to look and say “Could someone please help me with this? Anyone have any thoughts? I am looking for a mentor to help guide me through my first case. Nearly every single Bar Association or Professional Group has a mentor program, list serve, maybe even a library of help videos. Your LinkedIn network, You Tube Videos, Alumni committee these are just a few of the places you can turn to for easy, accessible and most likely free help.

What’s in it for the other person? How honored would you be if a young attorney called you late in your career? Your practice is winding down, working your way toward retirement when you get a message from a recent Bar graduate looking for a mentor. Ecstatic! A chance to share your experience with someone who’s just getting started offers a fun and engaging way to break up your week. Even better, you’re growing your practice and you hear from an ambitious young attorney that needs a partner firm to help with a case that’s outside of their practice area! Let the conversation begin.

I am always impressed, but never surprised by the outpouring of support and help I see between attorneys and their staff on list serves. Such simple technology, yet so powerful. The ABA’s Solo Sez list serve is probably the most popular free resource… more like lifeline for attorneys everywhere. Post your question, situation or concern and within hours I guarantee you’ll have more responses, suggestions and offers to chat than you’ll know what to do with.

In conclusion: None of us have all of the answers, nor can we be experts at everything. So as we embark into the New Year make a commitment to yourself to use a lot more no and open yourself up to opportunities to grow by asking for help. Your life will be less stressful, creating room to grow and learn. Most importantly you’ll earn the respect of others through being honest about taking on work, or reaching out to ask for help. It’s a good thing.


Thank you for sharing your day with us!

Have a no or help story to share? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to post below, or share it with me on Twitter @ChelseyLambert.