Starting the New Year on the Right Side of the Balance Sheet

Starting the New Year on the Right Side of the Balance Sheet

The question is not what’s in your wallet, but what’s in your general ledger as we start a new year?

If you have a client care program in place, you’re probably not worried about your balances at this or any time of the year. Clients pay you an annual fee and you have an annual budget process that protects your firm from the rollercoaster ride of cash flow ups and downs.

Most law firms that have attended the Client Care Academy adopt our practice of billing in the fall. Then they can spend their time focusing on making sure their clients and families are protected with an estate plan.

Just as we did, some twenty years ago, they’ve turned the traditional, transactional model of estate planning law upside down. Or maybe we should say that it’s been turned right-side up, after being upside down for far too long.

The relationship with the client is now based on a deeper level of trust. The client trusts that the law firm is going to take care of them all year long, without nickel and dime billing.

The client care program client knows that if they call their estate planning attorney in May because they are thinking about giving a grandchild a gift for high school graduation, they’ll receive a hearty congratulations, followed by suggestion of a closer look by the attorney of how to structure that gift so that it makes the most sense. The attorney isn’t compartmentalizing the information just for the family’s estate plan. The attorney wants to make sure it doesn’t have a negative impact on the grandchild’s eligibility for student loans or aid, or the grandchild’s family, in any way shape or form.

In other words, looking out for the entire family.

The attorney, having been paid for their services in an annual retainer, can do this kind of holistic representation without feeling petty about sending a bill, or losing billable time.

What we do as estate planning attorneys, or as attorneys in any field of law, is advise people about their lives. If you’re a real estate attorney and work with a family every time a member buys a home, chances are good they also call you about issues that are not strictly about their real estate. They trust your knowledge and your judgment.

With a client care program, you are solidifying your relationship with the client and their family. It’s a different way to practice law, and one we believe works better for the attorney and for the client.

Remember the scene in the movie “Jerry Maguire,” where Jerry delivers a manifesto to the talent agents that their goal should be to take better care of fewer clients, to really care about them and their families?

That’s what we’re talking about.

If you’re ready to have your own “Jerry Maguire” moment, where you’d rather provide A-level representation to A-level clients and not scramble after B and C and even D clients for appointments and cash flow in the new year, then we invite you to learn more about the Client Care Academy.

Our first workshop takes place on Thursday, March 28 – Friday, March 29 in Orlando, Florida. Click here for details and to register.

We are now offering private retreats for select law firms. For details, call or email Megan Davitt, Program Coordinator, at [email protected].

Or, if you’d rather get up to speed with a good read first, read my book, “How an Ordinary Lawyer Creates and Sustains an Extraordinary Client Care Program.”

Happy New Year!