Friday, June 09, 2006

Caution with New Matter Questionnaire

Working in a law firm is interesting because it is filled with people that are constantly thinking about what is right and what might go wrong. Several weeks ago I instituted a "New Matter Questionnaire" which is sent to attorneys whenever they signed a new client. Today I got some interesting feedback that caused me to change what I asked; particularly because questions and answers became part of the written archive of firm communications. I also took the opportunity to make a few other changes based on the existing track record of answers I am getting.

What was eliminated was:
  • How comfortable are you to work with this client or on this matter?
Though the reason for the question is marketing related it could be misconstrued to represent a measure of whether we should have taken the work at all. If an attorney states they are not comfortable with the work could it be because they were not qualified to take it in the first place? Though the many questions that might be asked about this are obscure, when it comes to litigation even the obscure becomes pivotal.

Also eliminated was:
  • Would you like to land more clients like this? Why?
The question was producing no measurable results and was the least answered question.

What was changed was:
  • Do you feel comfortable that this client/matter fits into your overall practice?
It was changed to:
  • Does this client/matter fit into your overall practice/practice goals?
It was changed to tighten the context of the question to be specific to the practice goals of the attorney and not about anything related to the clients action or transaction.

The new survey reads:
  • How did you get this work?
  • What was the referral source (if there was one)?
  • What is the business of the client?
  • What is the scope of their operations within California?
  • How comfortable are you to work with this client or on this matter?
  • Does this client/matter fit into your overall practice/practice goals?
  • What is their potential for additional work?
  • Would you feel comfortable talking with partners in other practice groups about exploring additional business issues the client might be facing?
Like any survey, time and application teaches its lessons. So now you know how this survey is evolving.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,