Monday, March 28, 2011

Regrets, I've Had a Few.

I recently met with a newly minted attorney at a local watering hole. The young lawyer had decided to hang his own shingle and wanted to pick my brain for some insight.  From where to open an office to what type of copier to buy, the budding barrister had a myriad of questions for me.  I gave him some suggestions, but what the heck did I know?  I considered myself new to the game as well.  "So what is the biggest mistake a lawyer can make?" he inquired. "Was it dipping into your client's fund account?  Sleeping with a client? Missing a statute of limitations?"  Like Frank Sinatra, I've had a few regrets in my pursuit of a legal career.  As Joe set our drinks up, I shared a regret that has led to wrinkles in my brow and gray in my hair.  "My advice to you," I mused with the wisdom of an ancient weather beaten fisherman," is to never, ever give your cell phone number to a client.

In my opinion, giving away your cell phone number will destroy any semblance of a private life you may be clinging to like Leonardo DiCaprio vainly hanging onto that floating door in Titanic. (Editors note:  My apologies if I inadvertently stuck Celine Dion's love theme from Titanic back into your head.)  I speak from experience.  I have given my cell phone number to certain clients. As such, many now use it as a means to reach me directly.  They use it to get around my secretary.  They also use it to call me after hours and on weekends.  The very sound of a ringing phone makes my blood curl.  It has gotten to the point that I can no longer watch the Jerry Lewis telethon without curling up into a ball and weeping uncontrollably.  But I digress.....

It is important to maintain a certain level of professionalism.  Learning from my mistake, I set boundaries for my clients.  Our firm created a 1-800 number that can be forwarded to my cell phone.  Clients are only allowed to call it in case of emergency.  They do not have my direct number.  I also tell my clients that if they do call me on a non emergency related matter after hours, I will gladly speak with them.  Of course, they will be billed an after hours rate.


Film Co. Lawyer said...

Amen & Hallelujah to that! When I represented a client on my own or worked w/some people, I definitely encountered that problem.

Unless or until I get a cell phone strictly for business matters, I'll continue to guard my number zealously from everyone, not just legal clients (I opt for calls on my landline so I don't have to worry about minutes). Thankfully, most of my colleagues also hate people calling them on their cell phones for unimportant matters that aren't time sensitive.

Anonymous said...

Truer words have never been spoken (err...written). I guard my mobile number more aggressively than Coke gaurds their formula.