As I visit various firms to learn more about their recruiting needs, I get to watch legal administrative receptionists field calls from clients, which made me want to share my views on angry client phone calls.
It happens. Clients phone and they are angry. They are angry because the lawyer has not called them back; they are angry because they have been served with a Notice of Civil Claim; and, they are angry because they have received your account and it is way too much.
What do you do about an angry caller?
First, recognize that they are not angry at you. Second, you have to approach this as an opportunity to work with the angry client to resolve their complaint instead of just dealing with them. Remember, you are also a member of the firm and have duties to the client, according to the Code of Professional Conduct for BC.
So, listen to their complaint. Sometimes all they want is someone who will listen to them. Take notes of what they are saying.
When they are finished, take the time to read your notes back to them. Once they are satisfied with your notes, tell them you will have the lawyer return their call.
Review your notes right away: are there things that you can prepare for the lawyer to make it easier for them to resolve the client's complaints?
Working with unhappy clients, challenging as it is, is an opportunity to improve the relations with the client.
On Entitlement: Are Newly Minted Paralegals & Legal Admin Assistants Getting a Bad Rap? (Stuff They Should Know About)
I am not sure if new hires from paralegal and LAA schools get a bad rap: that they have this sense of entitlement. Having taught some of them, I penned this letter for them: Do Not Just Show Up
Dear New Grad:
So it is your first real job? You have finished your education and you have finally got your foot in the door and are just starting on the ladder to your dream job.
What can you do to make sure that you do all the things you need to do to make that dream a reality. Here are some tips for doing just that:
• Remember that you have just started at this office and even though you might have some great theoretical knowledge, what you do not have is insight into the office you are working in. So do not go in and suggest that they completely revamp their computer system or their filing system or their accounting system. This is not a good way to start your new career. Do your job and do it well. This will get you noticed and in a much more positive way than if you tell them what you think they are doing wrong.
• Do more than your job. This does sound a bit contradictory, but it is not. If you are hired to be the accounting clerk, be the best accounting clerk it is possible to be. If you are the corporate records assistant, do it as well as it is possible to do. Clean out the old files, rearrange the shelves so that there is more room. Do whatever it takes to do your job and exceed expectations.• Know what it is you want from the experience of this first job. If you want to move ahead, you need to know how it is you’re going to do that. Have a conversation with your supervisor about what you want and what you will do to make it happen. If you want to become a senior paralegal, let them know that, but make sure you let them know that you realize it won’t happen overnight. Ask them what you should be doing to make this happen.
• Network. Do not just talk to the people in your immediate vicinity, talk to everyone. Because maybe, just maybe, you were thinking you wanted to work in estates but it turns out that conveyancing is your passion. Talk to the people in other departments, in other fields. The more people you get to know, the more people who get to know you, the better.
• Do not be afraid to ask how you are doing. Do not wait for your annual performance review to find out if you are doing a good job. Or if you are not. And if you get negative feedback, listen and ask how you could do better. Often, if you deal with negative feedback in a positive way, you end up further ahead than you would have been otherwise. If you deal with it well, your supervisor will see you as a mature, competent, professional individual and that is exactly what you want.
• Keep track of what you are accomplishing – both small and large things. If you get a raise or a promotion, that is great, but do not forget to keep track of the first time you use or help create a new system or complete a task you have never done before. Keeping track of these accomplishments provides you with two things: positive reinforcement for you and positive anecdotes or information for your resume.
• Remember that we do not always find the perfect job first time out. Make sure that you are doing the right thing, that this really is your dream job. If it is not, do not be afraid to start looking for something new. Because all of us have been in a place where we have had to try two or three different jobs before we found the right one.Being a novice does not mean being clueless, but it does mean that you need to pay attention. You need to be professional and you need to work hard. If you do these things, you will be well on your way to that dream job.