January 11, 2015 § 3 Comments
Let’s reach into the mailbag:
I have a solo practice, and that means that I answer my own phone on most days. Something has been happening on a regular basis that really makes me angry.
I’ll answer the phone, and a potential client will begin to tell me about his/her case. They usually want to tell a long story, but I always try to focus them on what I need to know in order to provide them with a good estimate of legal fees. Most of the time, after hearing my fee, they either try to milk the conversation for as much info as I will give them, or they exit the call.
Before hanging up, they will ask “Now, what was your name?” I’m always shocked by this, as they are the ones who called me! None of them ever call back. I feel like I should answer this question in a decisive, yet creative way.
With genuine legal love,
Penelope in Paxico
Let me break this down for you.
First, as a solo with no clients, answer the phone all you want. After all, what else are you doing with your time? This provides you with an opportunity to practice your phone skills.
After you earn your first client, stop acting as your own receptionist. No, really. Stop it. It will pull you away from the person/people who deserve your time the most. As you’ve probably already learned, the calls will come awkwardly, and most will have the subconscious goal of sucking as much information out of your brain as possible. Only your clients deserve the information in your brain. After all, they value what you know. That’s why they pay you.
Either pay someone to answer your phone or let voicemail receive the calls and return them at a predetermined time when you will not be pulled away from the people whom you owe your time.
As to your final question, welcome to the private practice of law. You’ll get calls from all types. Nice types. Fraudulent types. Angry types. Scared types. Delusional types. Flirty types. Normal types. Crazy types. Lots and lots of crazy types. Some will overcome the barriers you establish and try to pry information from your brain for no compensation. They don’t care who you are. They just want info.
Let me say this again: They don’t care who you are. They just want info. This means they see paying you for anything as a waste of money. They’d rather pay for a subscription to a low-budget adult website. You’re just a warm body who (presumably) owns a suit. That’s it.
So, do you really need cathartic relief that badly? Do you really need to reply to them in some way that conveys your feelings of disgust? Is it really worth it?
I say just give them your name and wish them good day. The sooner you end the conversation, the sooner you can move forward with the rest of your life. Creating hard feelings gains you nothing–even the moment of catharsis is fleeting.
Yours extremely platonically,
Note to everyone else: Can you think of a witty (and ethical) way to respond to the “What was your name again” callers? If so, put your idea in the comments below.
January 9, 2015 Comments Off on In which Daniel Gershburg and I enter the next circle of hell.
Episode 2 of Trigger Warning is now posted.
January 6, 2015 § 1 Comment
Picture, if you will…
A conversation just occurred (in reality, it happened months (and perhaps years) ago) in which I gleaned the most important aspects of the potential case: the general issues presented, proper venue, and time/travel/expenses necessary to effect representation. Fees are explained, including fees for consultations. 15 minutes have been spent on the phone.
Potential Client: But, don’t you want to know more about my case?
Me: You already told me everything I need at this point. I know the gist of your case and what we generally need to do. If you’d like a consultation, I’d be happy to arrange the paperwork and payment methods.
Potential Client: But, can I talk to you more about it?
Me: If we have a signed representation or consultation agreement and settle payment, we can talk at length about all the details. Plus, I will ensure the consultation occurs on my schedule when enough time exists for a thorough discussion of your case.
Potential Client: But, what about now?
Me: This isn’t a good time. I assume you want to think a bit more about whether you want to hire counsel.
Potential Client: I want to talk to you about my case.
Me: I don’t think I’m the right lawyer for you.
January 5, 2015 § 1 Comment
There are many tips for young lawyers floating around out there. Some are great. Some suck. This is one of the former.
Keep a log of all calls. Make it as detailed as possible. Take time after each call to review what you wrote. It should be a notebook or other “analog” means. Digital logs can be great, but they often take time to access and set up. Availability is the key. Function is more important than form. Never throw it away.
Why am I saying this? Mine just saved my ass twice today.
December 23, 2014 § 2 Comments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, or something.
For years, I’ve been told “Eric, you need to find a New York City lawyer, and the two of yous needs to do a podcast.” For the hundreds of you who’ve told me this, your pleas have not fallen on deaf ears.
In light of this, Daniel Gershburg and I have partnered on a podcast project called Trigger Warning. So far, only the pilot episode has been released (today). Come check it out here. As we already have several episodes planned, expect a weekly or bi-weekly release date. We’ll have a better feel once the holidays are (mercifully) behind us.
Daniel and I occasionally collaborated to poke fun at various silly/stupid/asinine lawyer events and behavior. So, we figured the next logical step was to take our luxurious, velvety voices to the public’s ears.
It’s pretty neato. Don’t believe me? Check out what others said*:
“These guys are willing to talk about anything, even donkey shows.” —Scott Greenfield
“I listened to your stupid podcast.” —Brian Tannebaum
“I AM NOT A HIPSTER!” —Leo Mulvihill
“Someone sent us booze for Christmas!” —Jordan Rushie
“They were such nice boys as solo practitioners. I just don’t know where things went wrong.” —Carolyn Elefant
“As long as they don’t sue me for defamation, they’re OK in my book.” —Eric Turkewitz
*Not actual quotes, except Leo and Jordan. They really said those things. At some point.
November 4, 2014 § 4 Comments
November 4, 2014 § 1 Comment
Depending on my pending cases, I travel a moderate to high amount during the week. Most of the time, the travel time is spent accumulating frequent flier points with Southwest. However, despite the number of free flights I earn, I do not like to fly. I don’t like the TSA, and I hate the feeling of my sinuses preparing to burst.
When possible, I always opt for rail travel. Most of the time, this is constrained to the eastern seaboard and occasional trips to Chicago. It is convenient, and I like the opportunity to perform uninterrupted work during the trip. While I occasionally use regional services, Amtrak usually gets my business.
However, something has been bugging me about Amtrak. This is their Acela Express service. For those of you who do not know, the Acela is the US’ only high speed rail service. With speeds up to 140 mph, it promises quick and comfortable service between Washington and Boston.
Notice that 140 mph number? That’s fast, especially compared to its analog counterpart, the Northeast Regional, which averages about half the speed with its traditional diesel/electric configuration.
However, that’s not how it shakes-out in reality.
Just for fun, I’m going to plan a 1-way trip from Washington to New York City on December 16. I’ll use “value” based fares. That way, I’m comparing apples to apples on lowest available fares. I’ll also plan to leave around the same time, choosing trains that leave between 9AM and 11AM.
Here’s what I found:
Train 1: Acela, 2 hours, 45 mins, cost: $184
Train 2: Northeast Regional, 3 hr, 20 mins, cost: $86
Train 3: Acela, 2h, 46m, $158
Train 4: Northeast Regional, 3h, 24m, $86
Train 5: Acela, 2h, 50m, $158
Looking further through the day, I note that the NE Regional lower fare remains at $86, while the Acela has a low of $158 and occasionally spikes into the $200s during peak times.
To be fair, the lowest class on Acela is “Business Class.” There are no seats classified as “Coach” on the high speed service. To upgrade to “Business Class” on the NE Regional, you will need to pay $130. However, for purposes here, I’m comparing the lowest available to lowest available.
Looking at the sample provided, NE Regional trains take approximately 3 hours, 22 minutes to make the trek from DC to NYC. The Acela takes approximately 2 hours, 47 minutes for the same trek. This, is an average time savings of 35 minutes, but that savings will cost, at a minimum, $72.
Here are my takeaways:
I do not believe the savings in time is worth $2.06 per minute.
For a train capable of nearly twice the speed of its analog counterpart, a mere 18% savings on time is not worth paying 184% more in fare.