Blogging Power

Verizon – Redux:  The power of blogging is apparent when Verizon calls me the day after my original post in this column about their service, or lack thereof, to ask how they can address the problems I raised.  I glad to say that the issues I raised have been resolved. The process, however, is fascinating to me.

The day after my post, I attended a conference conducted by my own business coach, Alan Weiss. While there, coincidentally, Verizon Fios was conducting a sales training program. I talked to one of the folks running the program, who then introduced me to a district manager. He knows the store manager where my incident occurred and said he would contact him. (I have still not heard from him.) Also, during the day, another higher up attempted to reach me by phone. On my return later in the day, I returned the call … and we finally connected. 

The billing issue that arose after my purchases was resolved to my satisfaction, and I learned more about Verizon.  One,I was told they outsource their collection issues rather than first seeking to resolve any questions internally.  To my way of thinking, this is a mistake because most billing issues result from the actions of the creditor.  And, in the case of lawyers, unresolved billing issues could result in a malpractice action. Wouldn’t it be better to address the billing issue, resolve it and retain the goodwill of the client, not to mention the client’s future business? Verizon, being in an oligarchic position, apparently, doesn’t understand the nuance. Of course, collection is not their strength; sales and service is. But, I would think that better collection techniques could enhance rather than destroy customer goodwill.

Second, I learned that neither he store level nor the first contact person can resolve these issues. They have to be pushed "upstairs." In this case, it was another district manager who had the authority. One of the lessons learned from Ritz Carlton Hotels (now a division of Marriott) is that all front line personnel have the authority to spend up to $2,500 to satisfy customer complaints. SAS, the airline, after their bankruptcy, pushed all decision-making authority down to the lowest level. This process made sure that customer issues are resolved as quickly as possible; that the sour taste of complaints does not remain with the customer longer than need be; and that senior folks are focusing on what they are hired to do … not to settle what usually amounts to "small" issues.

In the case of lawyers, value is in the eye of the beholder, the client. Lawyers can/should adjust bills in order to match value as seen by the client. Most billing issues, in my opinion, are set up by the lawyer in the first intake session. A full discussion not only of the matter, but also the fee to be charged for the matter, will likely avoid most billing problems … and assure the lawyer is paid on time and in full.

Next, I learned that Verizon is experimenting in our geographic area (Southern California) with requiring appointments so that customers can better plan their time and be served without interruption. I commend the company for seeking to offer better service. I believe (this is unsolicited feedback) that a combination approach would work better …. that is, make appointments and serve "walk-ins" if / when their representatives are available. It is difficult to manage any large company. Verizon certainly is in this category. But, then, so is Apple and Apple, among others seems to be able to address appointments as well as walk-ins.

Bottom line, I’m pleased with my purchases from Verizon, which included the new iPad and Motorola Razr Maxx, and I’m pleased with finally dealing with the other issues that arose. It was unfortunate that Verizon could not have handled our issues more effectively, with less turmoil, in order to retain that sweet smell of consumer purchase euphoria.

Source: http://feeds.lexblog.com/~r/LawBizBlog/~3/Q2yG_Oh7ykc/

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Queer Law Alliance at Suffolk University Law School

Jennifer Garner JD ’13, Co-President of the Queer Law Alliance (QLA) at Suffolk University Law School, discusses the QLA and LGBT awareness in the legal profession. Learn more about the QLA and its events at http://bit.ly/pR3ZB1.

Source: http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/suffolk-law/2011/12/queer-law-alliance-at-suffolk-university-law-school/

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The Problem with Bankruptcy Isn’t Attorneys’ Fees – It’s Executive Incompetence

In the Wall Street Journal, staff writer, Jacqueline Palank discusses the Justice Department’s attempt to control fees that bankruptcy lawyers seek. Creditors and employees may, at times, be a bit disgruntled by such fees. So, now, the U.S. Trustee Program appears to be entering the fray.

Before going further, it should be noted that i) any fee sought by an attorney must first be approved by the client going into bankruptcy; ii) the fee cannot be paid before a Bankruptcy Court Judge approves the fee request; iii) the legal fees most often are a pittance compared to the debts of the company and thus have little or no impact on either the creditors or the employees. In fact, the current proposal is limited to companies whose assets and debts exceed $50 million, hardly your "normal" bankruptcy.

The only reason for focusing on the legal fees is that this is a topic that makes good reading in the tabloids, including the WSJ. While the quoted hourly rate received by some attorneys seems high, it is insignificant in comparison to the compensation received by incompetent CEOs and others in the C-suite offices. Why don’t the tabloids focus on the cause of the bankruptcy? Why not focus on the compensation of the management team, which often is at astronomically higher multiples compared the lowest paid employees of the company? Why not seek redress against the management that is responsible for bringing the company to its knees? Although this focus may have more positive economic impact, it clearly is not sexy enough to sell many papers.

The U.S. Trustee is proposing, according to the writer, several new approaches to control lawyers’ fees, including:

    Though the lawyer applicant must disclose his/her hourly rate now, the Justice Department wants the lawyer to disclose the lowest, highest and average hourly rates the law firm charges in all its matters.

    The Department wants the lawyer applicant to create and disclose to the Court a budget for legal expenses. This budget would, necessarily, disclose to all involved, including the creditors who are adversaries of the bankrupt, the client’s planned legal strategy.

In the 1960s, the Supreme Court ruled that it was anti-competitive for bar associations to maintain a listing of suggested fees for different types of work. Such a listing, in particular, helped younger and newer lawyers set their fees at rates that were more in line with more senior lawyers. Not having such a list would compel lawyers to set their own fees, the theory being that lawyers would then be more competitive with one another to the consumers’ benefit.  The Trustee by its first proposal ignores this. The existing disclosure already provides information that tends to be anti-competitive. Law firms can see what others are charging and price their own services accordingly, causing rates to slowly increase in lockstep over the years.

Intruding into the fees charged for practice areas, such as general business matters, estate planning, tax work, and other areas of work performed by the firms who also do bankruptcy work has no bearing on the special expertise of large company bankruptcy lawyers. No area of law other than bankruptcy requires such disclosure for court approval. Fees are left to be negotiated between attorney and client. Other than precedent, there is no reason disclosure should be made here either and the process should not be extended. “Transparency” is a bogus issue. There is no backroom conspiracy on how bankruptcy fees are charged. All the proceedings are public and must be approved by the Court before attorneys are paid anything.

Budgets are good. I recommend them to my attorney-clients with whom I consult. Budgeting is a process, however, between the client and the attorney. By requiring that bankruptcy budgets, which reveal legal strategy, be made public, the U.S. Trustee is saying that bankrupt companies have no rights. They have no right to advocacy; they have no right to develop a strategy that might affect creditors’ claims; and they have no right of confidentiality. This is clearly contrary to the U.S. Constitution and our entire judicial system. While the bankrupts, and their inept management, may have proceeded down an economically unwise path, they still have rights to seek the best windup of affairs in their economic environment.

Don’t worry about the lawyers’ hourly rates once the bankruptcy petition is filed. They are regulated first, by the client, and second, by the Court. Who is watching the compensation of the management team before the company entered bankruptcy? Why are inept executives not punished with fines, or worse, for malfeasance and negligent management tactics? Why are they allowed to benefit so expansively at the expense of their workers? Why don’t the tabloids focus their sharp light there? Oh, I forgot, the tabloids need to sell papers, they are part of the industrial complex that both Presidents Washington and Eisenhower warned us about as they left office.  Perhaps the fact that quite a few newspapers and newspaper chains (Tribune Co. and papers in Detroit, Denver, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and many other cities) have been mismanaged and had to file for bankruptcy has something to do with it, too.

Source: http://feeds.lexblog.com/~r/LawBizBlog/~3/KoS8slTfCVA/

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Essential iPad Apps for Lawyers

Everywhere we go, we see lawyers using iPads. But what are they using them for? There are thousands of Apps available for the iPad – so many that it’s hard to know where to begin. Fortunately, Tom Mighell has written a new book called, iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers. In this episode, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the importance of iPad apps for effective use of iPads, Tom’s book, and their favorite iPad Apps for lawyers and others.

Source: http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/kennedy-mighell-report/2012/06/essential-ipad-apps-for-lawyers/

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Legal Assistance for our Troops, Veterans & Military Families

With two wars winding down, there are great efforts in the legal community to help returning troops, their families and all other veterans with the many legal issues they face back home. Lawyer2Lawyer co-hosts and attorneys, Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams join Attorney Nan Heald, the Executive Director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance and Jim Strickland, a nationally recognized expert on disability benefits, to discuss their personal missions to assist our service members with disability benefits and the Service Members Civil Relief Act. They also talk about the role of the VA and how lawyers can help these brave men and women who serve our country.

Source: http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/lawyer-2-lawyer/2011/12/legal-assistance-for-our-troops-veterans-military-families/

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Blogging Power

Verizon – Redux:  The power of blogging is apparent when Verizon calls me the day after my original post in this column about their service, or lack thereof, to ask how they can address the problems I raised.  I glad to say that the issues I raised have been resolved. The process, however, is fascinating to me.

The day after my post, I attended a conference conducted by my own business coach, Alan Weiss. While there, coincidentally, Verizon Fios was conducting a sales training program. I talked to one of the folks running the program, who then introduced me to a district manager. He knows the store manager where my incident occurred and said he would contact him. (I have still not heard from him.) Also, during the day, another higher up attempted to reach me by phone. On my return later in the day, I returned the call … and we finally connected. 

The billing issue that arose after my purchases was resolved to my satisfaction, and I learned more about Verizon.  One,I was told they outsource their collection issues rather than first seeking to resolve any questions internally.  To my way of thinking, this is a mistake because most billing issues result from the actions of the creditor.  And, in the case of lawyers, unresolved billing issues could result in a malpractice action. Wouldn’t it be better to address the billing issue, resolve it and retain the goodwill of the client, not to mention the client’s future business? Verizon, being in an oligarchic position, apparently, doesn’t understand the nuance. Of course, collection is not their strength; sales and service is. But, I would think that better collection techniques could enhance rather than destroy customer goodwill.

Second, I learned that neither he store level nor the first contact person can resolve these issues. They have to be pushed "upstairs." In this case, it was another district manager who had the authority. One of the lessons learned from Ritz Carlton Hotels (now a division of Marriott) is that all front line personnel have the authority to spend up to $2,500 to satisfy customer complaints. SAS, the airline, after their bankruptcy, pushed all decision-making authority down to the lowest level. This process made sure that customer issues are resolved as quickly as possible; that the sour taste of complaints does not remain with the customer longer than need be; and that senior folks are focusing on what they are hired to do … not to settle what usually amounts to "small" issues.

In the case of lawyers, value is in the eye of the beholder, the client. Lawyers can/should adjust bills in order to match value as seen by the client. Most billing issues, in my opinion, are set up by the lawyer in the first intake session. A full discussion not only of the matter, but also the fee to be charged for the matter, will likely avoid most billing problems … and assure the lawyer is paid on time and in full.

Next, I learned that Verizon is experimenting in our geographic area (Southern California) with requiring appointments so that customers can better plan their time and be served without interruption. I commend the company for seeking to offer better service. I believe (this is unsolicited feedback) that a combination approach would work better …. that is, make appointments and serve "walk-ins" if / when their representatives are available. It is difficult to manage any large company. Verizon certainly is in this category. But, then, so is Apple and Apple, among others seems to be able to address appointments as well as walk-ins.

Bottom line, I’m pleased with my purchases from Verizon, which included the new iPad and Motorola Razr Maxx, and I’m pleased with finally dealing with the other issues that arose. It was unfortunate that Verizon could not have handled our issues more effectively, with less turmoil, in order to retain that sweet smell of consumer purchase euphoria.

Source: http://feeds.lexblog.com/~r/LawBizBlog/~3/Q2yG_Oh7ykc/

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Blogging Power

Verizon – Redux:  The power of blogging is apparent when Verizon calls me the day after my original post in this column about their service, or lack thereof, to ask how they can address the problems I raised.  I glad to say that the issues I raised have been resolved. The process, however, is fascinating to me.

The day after my post, I attended a conference conducted by my own business coach, Alan Weiss. While there, coincidentally, Verizon Fios was conducting a sales training program. I talked to one of the folks running the program, who then introduced me to a district manager. He knows the store manager where my incident occurred and said he would contact him. (I have still not heard from him.) Also, during the day, another higher up attempted to reach me by phone. On my return later in the day, I returned the call … and we finally connected. 

The billing issue that arose after my purchases was resolved to my satisfaction, and I learned more about Verizon.  One,I was told they outsource their collection issues rather than first seeking to resolve any questions internally.  To my way of thinking, this is a mistake because most billing issues result from the actions of the creditor.  And, in the case of lawyers, unresolved billing issues could result in a malpractice action. Wouldn’t it be better to address the billing issue, resolve it and retain the goodwill of the client, not to mention the client’s future business? Verizon, being in an oligarchic position, apparently, doesn’t understand the nuance. Of course, collection is not their strength; sales and service is. But, I would think that better collection techniques could enhance rather than destroy customer goodwill.

Second, I learned that neither he store level nor the first contact person can resolve these issues. They have to be pushed "upstairs." In this case, it was another district manager who had the authority. One of the lessons learned from Ritz Carlton Hotels (now a division of Marriott) is that all front line personnel have the authority to spend up to $2,500 to satisfy customer complaints. SAS, the airline, after their bankruptcy, pushed all decision-making authority down to the lowest level. This process made sure that customer issues are resolved as quickly as possible; that the sour taste of complaints does not remain with the customer longer than need be; and that senior folks are focusing on what they are hired to do … not to settle what usually amounts to "small" issues.

In the case of lawyers, value is in the eye of the beholder, the client. Lawyers can/should adjust bills in order to match value as seen by the client. Most billing issues, in my opinion, are set up by the lawyer in the first intake session. A full discussion not only of the matter, but also the fee to be charged for the matter, will likely avoid most billing problems … and assure the lawyer is paid on time and in full.

Next, I learned that Verizon is experimenting in our geographic area (Southern California) with requiring appointments so that customers can better plan their time and be served without interruption. I commend the company for seeking to offer better service. I believe (this is unsolicited feedback) that a combination approach would work better …. that is, make appointments and serve "walk-ins" if / when their representatives are available. It is difficult to manage any large company. Verizon certainly is in this category. But, then, so is Apple and Apple, among others seems to be able to address appointments as well as walk-ins.

Bottom line, I’m pleased with my purchases from Verizon, which included the new iPad and Motorola Razr Maxx, and I’m pleased with finally dealing with the other issues that arose. It was unfortunate that Verizon could not have handled our issues more effectively, with less turmoil, in order to retain that sweet smell of consumer purchase euphoria.

Source: http://feeds.lexblog.com/~r/LawBizBlog/~3/Q2yG_Oh7ykc/

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DOJ Report Criticizes Hiring Practices in Management Division

A U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Office report found eight current or former employees in the department’s Justice Management Division violated statutes and regulations that cover the hiring of relatives and conflicts of interest and employee ethics.

Source: http://www.law.com/jsp/law/sign_me_in.jsp?article=http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202564526390&rss=newswire

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Mark Woods: We shouldn’t just shut something down when users don’t cover the cost (Florida Times-Union)

Twitteright: Finding Protection in 140 Characters or Less

Stephanie T. North JD ’11 discusses her article, “Twitteright: Finding Protection in 140 Characters or Less,” which was published in the Journal of High Technology Law. Read the article at http://bit.ly/tblf9I.

Source: http://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/suffolk-law/2011/12/twitteright-finding-protection-in-140-characters-or-less/

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