No, not your charm, but the lawyer's new best friend in the technological world of the 1990s -- the super beeper
If Shakespeare were alive in the '90s, he may have modified his age-old inquiry: "To beep or not to beep, that is the question." In the modern techno-world, the trend is to instant access to whomever you want to reach, wherever they may be.
Given the increased fight for legal business, it is not surprising that more lawyers are carrying pagers in an effort to sell the client on their 24-hour availability.
In addition, as the State Bar recently reported, one of the most common complaints it receives about attorneys from clients is the attorney's failure to return telephone calls. If the simple act of returning a phone call to an anxious client can help avoid a disintegration of the attorney-client relationship, doesn't it make sense to pay more attention to this relatively easy task?
Rather than having clients call the office to leave messages, a pager can offer a practical alternative.
While only the fearless (or foolish) attorney will pass out his or her private pager number to every client, judiciously giving out one's pager number can work wonders in rejuvenating an otherwise ailing attorney-client relationship. It can even make a neglected client feel special -- "I know you've had difficulty getting hold of me lately. Let me give you my private pager number so you can contact me directly."
The new breed of pagers are the super beepers, durable yet compact and stylish.
While the older generation of pagers utilized POCSAG technology, the new super beepers take advantage of the very latest in high speed messaging capability known as FLEX. FLEX technology is setting new industry standards for providing improved pager performance through longer battery life and greater message efficiency. These new beepers offer up to five months of battery life, superior page reliability, message timestamping, and selectable and programmable musical alerts.
Perhaps one of their most impressive features is the vastly increased range of paging area. The newest super beepers have been known to accurately receive pages while buried hundreds of feet underground in steel containers.
Phillip Staley, manager of Car Fidelity in Montclair, indicates that he is receiving a steady number of inquiries from lawyers seeking his expertise in custom designing a pager plan suited for a particular type of practice or for special needs.
Riverside attorney Steven C. Geeting of Fisher, Weathers & Geeting practices plaintiff's personal injury and medical malpractice law and has carried a super beeper for several months. It is "an excellent solution for ensuring that my clients can reach me despite my most hectic of schedules," he says. "I literally take it just about everywhere."
Take the time to return client calls. Better yet, use the return call process to actually strengthen professional relationships with clients. Give clients the impression that you are accessible to handle their concerns no matter how busy you are. Perhaps the simplest and certainly the most cost-effective manner in which to do so is to obtain an inexpensive super beeper. Just remember to turn it on.
Rick C. Lal is a certified family law specialist with Minyard & Morris in Orange and chair of the bar's Law Practice Management and Technology Section's executive committee.