HOW WE ARE CHANGING LAW
It’s easy to talk about changing the way law is practiced, but at Truitt Law Group, we’re doing something about the way law is practiced. We are committed to practicing, quite simply the way it should be.
And this means change in every aspect of the practice: service, quality, billing, & advocacy.
Somewhere along the way, lawyers have forgotten that, at its core, the practice of law is a service business. More than our clients need us – we need our clients. Without them, there is nothing to be done. The fundamental principles of customer service should not only be applied by attorneys, they should be mastered by them. There are few services whose providers are as highly trained, or as highly compensated. Clients have every right to expect a similar level of service at a law practice to the one they receive at a restaurant or retail store – and yet, they rarely receive it.
A brief survey of individuals/companies that regularly use legal services will reveal:
- Lawyers are difficult to get a hold of;
- Lawyers do not return phone calls or e-mails;
- Lawyers do not complete work in a timely manner;
- Lawyers do not take the time to explain things.
These service indicators are so pervasive that they often become the source of ridicule and derision against the entire profession.
Truitt Law Group practitioners solve these problems just as simply as you might think. We:
- Answer calls when we are available;
- Return phone calls, voice mails and e-mails as soon as time permits – even if it means doing so after “regular” hours;
- Complete work efficiently and quickly;
- Talk to our clients like people not other attorneys.
In more practical terms, Truitt Law Group practitioners:
- Work to return all correspondence within twenty-four (24) hours;
- Obtain from each client an expected “timing” (i.e. when they need the work completed), and will work with the client to develop a deadline that they are certain (in light of their other professional obligations) can meet. If they become aware that they cannot meet this deadline – they will inform the client before the deadline with an updated deadline;
- Spend time with clients explaining the results of their work; asking questions to make sure clients understand and providing, wherever possible, real-world examples to illustrate what they are doing.
The most successful marketing efforts of large law firms have resulted in the widespread public opinion that lower priced law equals lower quality law. Or, in other words, there are two options for legal help:
- Do it yourself (e.g. LegalZoom); or
- Pay $500/hour to a “real” lawyer.
What’s more, because legal assistance can be so confusing, there is often no way for clients to know whether or not the help they’re getting is of the highest quality until it’s way too late.
Truitt Law Group practitioners are committed to providing the highest quality service, and to ensuring that they have the best possible knowledge and information to do so.
Truitt Law Group practitioners are committed to the mantra – “if we can’t help you, we can find you someone that can.”
Finally, Truitt Law Group practitioners remember that the first job of any attorney is to “make sure.” To make sure the documents are right, to make sure they’ve double-checked the applicable law, to make sure they’ve done all they can do to make it right.
There is perhaps no area of law in more desperate need of reform than billing. There is no complaint more pervasive amongst clients, and no place where “big law” has gotten completely out of hand. The fact is, lawyers charge too much per hour and charge for too many things (that shouldn’t be billable). This problem is rooted in the “billable hour” mentality of large firms that used that model to try and make their associates more productive and efficient, and ended up accomplishing exactly the opposite.
The problems with legal billing include:
- Astronomically-priced “partner-level” lawyers. No one’s time is worth $500, $600, $700 or more per hour. Those few lawyers that are worth $400 per hour rarely spend time on your matter;
- Lawyers are instructed to bill for any time they even spend thinking about a matter. They are also instructed to bill for every phone call, e-mail, voicemail, etc;
- Lawyers bill for the time it took to create a form to every client they use it for, even though it had already been developed;
- Law firms bill for copies, mailing and long-distance calls at up-charged rates. There is no reason these costs, where significant, can’t be passed through directly.
Truitt Law Group practitioners address these problems with a practical and honest approach to billing. We:
- Bill at half of the rate we would be billed at by a large firm for an attorney of similar experience and skill;
- Do not bill for the time it takes us to get up to speed on something we should already know;
- Do not upcharge on expenses – including forms, mailing, government filing fees, etc.; and
- Do bill as we would expect to be billed for the same work.
Although attorneys are trained, tested and monitored in the ethical conduct of law, they often times lose sight of the single principle which will universally keep them out of trouble – that they have a fiduciary duty to each and every client.
Truitt Law Group practitioners treat each matter individually and independently. There are no “cookie cutter” matters for lawyers to work on, and if you come across one, it should be referred to Legal Zoom – or at a minimum, clients should be apprised that they work they’re asking for does not require the assistance of professional counsel. No matter how similar a matter is to previously handled matters, Truitt Law Group practitioners take the time to understand each case and each client.
Truitt Law Group practitioners follow the golden rule of practice – represent others as you would like to be represented.
- Truitt Law Group practitioners are zealous, but unwilling to act illegally on behalf of a client;
- Truitt Law Group practitioners are able and willing to tell a client that they’re wrong, that they can’t do what they want to do, and that they will not suborn them acting in a way that will knowingly place them at an unacceptable risk;
- Truitt Law Group practitioners provide answers to clients and not simply more questions;
- Truitt Law Group practitioners strive to understand the risk situations and appetites of their clients. Just as not every investor needs to be placed in the most secure investments, not every client needs to be placed in the safest possible legal position;
- Truitt Law Group practitioners are able and willing to give their opinion when it’s requested. Clients understand that there are always caveats and that there are no absolutes – but they also want to know what you would do in their position. Lawyers are frequently not engaged as legal experts, but rather as high horsepower intellectuals who can assimilate data and process problems logically and practically against their experience; and
- Truitt Law Group practitioners are, to the maximum extent they are capable, trusted advisors and partners to their clients.