“Everything you’ve been told about building
an injury law practice is wrong”

POSITION CONTRACT FOR MARY HUDGENS

Mary, we are very excited to begin working with you! We believe you will make an excellent addition to our team.

Why Your Position Contract Exists

In order to give you guidance and help you succeed, we prepared this “Position Contract” to describe the basic duties and tasks you will have as our “Problem Solver and Happiness Maker” (yes, that is your official title). Our paralegal, Corina Skidmore, will always be available to answer your questions.

More than anything, your Position Contract is your Roadmap for Success. We want you to know exactly what it will take to succeed with our law firm, as well as the high expectations that we set for you. We suggest that you read the Position Contact as often as you can.

Ultimately, our goal is that you move on to bigger and better things that our law firm. And we are here to help you achieve your goals and ambitions. Strive to continue your personal development every day—attend seminars and workshops, go to a personal trainer and nutritionist, start jogging, participate in our Dream Manager Program, etc. Let us know what we can do to help you get to the next step in your career, even if that means leaving our law firm.

With this Position Contract, we are giving you two books, “Fred Factor” and “Fish!” These books illustrate the “WOW” client service that we expect from you. We strongly recommend that you read the books and re-read them from time to time as a reminder of our commitment to a “WOW” service.

OUR PROTOCOLS

Weekly Goal Meeting

We meet every Monday at 10 a.m. for our “Goal Meeting”. At the Goal Meeting, you should be prepared to do two things:

#1:   Your “Positive Focus”: Tell us something in your life—personal or professional–that you are grateful for (your “positive focus”). When you start each day from a positive frame of mind, nothing bad can happen; and

#2:   Your “Top 5 Goals”: Tell us your Top 5 goals for the week and your “Top 1 of 5”, i.e., your most important goal for the week.

The Top 5 Goals sets the agenda for your workweek, i.e., what you want to accomplish. We suggest that you make your Top 5 Goals for the Week realistic, but not too easy—you want to stretch and accomplish more than you expect.

On the following Monday’s Goal Meeting, we will review the prior week’s goals and give you a score for each of the five goals ranging from 1 (nothing done) to 5 (goal was achieved). Scores in the range from 2, 3 and 4 indicates that you completed part of the goal. A top score for the week is 25.

In addition to your Top 5 Goals, you may have other goals that you’d like to accomplish—we call this our “Should-Do” List. You will receive 3 points for each goal that you accomplish from your “Should-Do” List.

Our Daily “Huddle”

At 9:15 a.m. every work day, we meet to discuss your Top 3 goals for the day. Similar to the weekly Goal Meeting, come ready with a “positive focus” and the Top 3 goals that you want to accomplish for the day.

At our Daily Huddle, there will be time for you to raise any questions or problems that you’re having, i.e., defense counsel refuse to cooperate in scheduling depositions (a common problem). Corina and I will help answer your question and point you in the right direction.

Arrive on time for the Daily Huddle no later than 9:15 a.m.—we do not want to have to get you. Don’t hesitate to speak up if there is a process or system in our office that we can do better. You will likely have insights that we never thought of.

How to Succeed at Our Law Firm

Your job is to provide our clients and referral partners with an amazing, “WOW!!!” experience that they’ve never had at any other law firm. We want our clients to love you and tell us how wonderful you are. Be proactive and take the initiative to call our clients and referral partners.

My best advice for you: make yourself indispensable. Give 10X more value than you receive. Think of ways to reduce our costs or increase our revenues. Always look for new cases to bring to our firm.

Make a decision, be proactive and don’t ask for permission. I am giving you permission to make mistakes. As long as you work hard and are completely committed to our clients, mistakes are acceptable.

No gossip or drama. We are brutally honest with each other and expect the same from you.

Our Culture

Our culture is HUNGRY and HUMBLE. We are highly motivated (hungry) and treat each other as equals (humble) and we hope you will embrace our culture. If a specific task or goal isn’t done by 5 p.m., it’s okay to stay until the job is done (we don’t mind).

Our Core Values

Our Core Values is the Bible that governs our conduct. You should become intimately familiar with our 5 Core Values:

#1:   We only practice catastrophic injury law.

#2:   We never agree to confidential settlements.

#3:   We do not accept cases having questionable merit.

#4:   We strive for continuous improvement.

#5:   We are completely transparent and brutally honest with our clients.

At our daily “Huddle”, I may ask you to tell us how you’ve implemented one of our firm’s core values. Core values mean nothing unless they are discussed and continually reinforced—we want you to show us how you have implemented our Core Values.

Our purpose that governs every decision that we make is, “Stopping Medical Injustice”.

Raises, Promotions and Probation

You will never be given a raise because of how long you work here. If you want a raise or bonus, earn it! Don’t just do your job—we already pay you fairly to do that. Produce more than we pay you do to, exceed our expectations and work to “WOW” our clients and referral partners. The responsibility to earn more money is on you.

The first six months will be a probationary period. In six months, we hope you will be doing more for our law firm than just the job we hired you to do.

YOUR THREE MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES

You will have three major responsibilities:

Responsibility #1:        Answering the Phone;

Responsibility #2:        Getting Medical Records; and

Responsibility #3:        Opening, Scanning and Emailing Correspondence

In this Position Contract, we’ve set forth your responsibilities in detail so you have a clear understanding of what we expect from you. Our office manual (“Our Team’s Playbook”) that is annexed to this Position Contract provides a complete set of our law firm’s policies and procedures. You should keep Our Team’s Playbook by your desk and refer to it whenever you are not sure what to do.

RESPONSIBILITY #1

ANSWERING THE PHONE

You will be the front-line for answering our phones and scheduling appointments. The phone calls to our law firm generally consist of three types of phone calls and for purposes of clarity, the three types of phone calls are divided by category as follow:

Phone Call #1: Calls from New Clients

“New clients” are persons calling about a new case or attorneys referring a new case.

Phone Call #2: Calls from Existing Clients

“Existing clients” are our clients who have an active or potential ase with us.

Phone Call #3: Scheduling Depositions

Phone calls to schedule a deposition.

PHONE CALL #1

Phone Calls From New Clients

There are two kinds of new case calls:

(1)     New cases that are NOT referred by an attorney; and

(2)     New cases that are referred by an attorney.

The handling of the new case call will vary depending on whether the case is referred by an attorney. When a new client calls our law firm, the first question you should ask is: “How were you referred to us?

If the new client was not referred by a lawyer, then follow the steps set forth in the category, “New Cases that are NOT Referred by Attorneys”.

If the new client was referred by a lawyer, then follow the steps set forth in the category called, “New Cases that are Referred by Attorneys”.

New Cases that are NOT Referred by Attorneys

When a new client calls with a potential case, the phone call should be transferred to our intake service company, Call Ruby. On the right-hand side of your phone, there is a button labeled, “Intake”, that you can press to send the new client directly to Call Ruby.

Once you determine that the client is calling with a new case, and was not referred by a lawyer, you should explain to the new client: “Will you mind holding for a moment while I transfer you to our Intake Specialist?” You should then press the button on your phone to transfer the client to Call Ruby. Your job is done after transferring the phone call.

New Cases that are Referred by Attorneys

When a case is referred by an attorney (what I call our “Referral Partners”), the call should be transferred to me. If I am not available to take the phone call, you should transfer the call to Corina.

I place the highest value on new cases referred by lawyers and I always want to speak directly with the lawyer when a new case is referred to us.

If I am not available, and Corina is not available, then you should schedule a time for me to speak with the Referral Partner (i.e., lawyer referring a new case) by phone or face-to-face. When scheduling an appointment, please check our Calendar in Microsoft Outlook to determine if I am available for the phone conference or meeting. I generally prefer to schedule phone appointments and meetings between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

There is no need to ask for my permission to schedule an appointment for me. If the Calendar has an opening for me, this means that I’m free and you can schedule the appointment.

When you schedule an appointment, please send me an email confirming that you scheduled an appointment for me.

If Corina and I are not available to speak with the client, you should enter all of the client’s contact information in the Intake Wizard in Trialworks (click the middle box in the upper right corner of Trialworks). The information from every new client should be entered into the Intake Wizard in Trialworks.

PHONE CALL #2

Phone Calls from Existing Clients

When an existing client calls to ask for information about the status of their case, you should try to answer their question. At first, this will be impossible since you are not familiar with our cases, but as you get familiar with the cases and our civil case management software program called Trialworks, you will be able to answer most of their questions.

The typical questions asked by clients vary and can range from: “What is the date of my deposition? When can I meet with John to prepare for my deposition? Have you received my settlement check?”

Our clients are typically severely disabled or handicapped. The most important thing is to express compassion and understanding. Our clients are sometimes difficult to handle and may be unreasonable, but you should treat them as though they are “always right”. By the time our clients’ case is over, you want to have a strong, lasting friendship with them.

If you can’t answer the clients’ questions, you should feel free to transfer the call to Corina. However, keep in mind that you should try to answer any questions whenever you can—so Corina is not interrupted by phone calls throughout her workday.

PHONE CALL #3

Scheduling Depositions

The procedure for scheduling depositions is contained in Chapter 11 of Our Team’s Playbook. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions of Corina or me about these procedures.

Corina will give you a list of cases where you will be asked to schedule dates for depositions with the secretaries of defendants’ attorneys.

We place the highest priority on our “A” cases, since they will have the highest monetary value. Every case has a “Priority Code” of either an “A”, “B”, “C” or “D” case and you can find the Priority Code in the “Case/Retainer” tab of Trialworks for every client with an Active Case (an “Active Case” is a case in which the lawsuit has been filed).

“A” cases: A settlement value over $1 million (our highest value cases that make the most $ for us);

“B” cases: A settlement value between $500k and $1 million;

“C” cases: A settlement value between $300k and $500k; and

“D” cases: A settlement value less than $300k.

Of all of the duties you will have at our law firm, the scheduling of depositions is the top priority. Our cases will not progress to trial until the depositions have been scheduled and completed and hence, we always want to avoid delays and adjournments of depositions.

I strongly recommend that you confirm dates for depositions with a letter to defense counsel, i.e., “Per our telephone conversation, the deposition of our client, Ms. Jones, will be held on June 15, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at Valley Reporting Service in Kingston.”

When confirming defendants’ depositions confirm by phone and in writing that the original medical record will be at the deposition.

Call Forwarding When You’re Not in the Office

When you leave the office to do an errand, phone calls will be answered by our answering service, Call Ruby. There is a button on your phone that you can press to send all incoming phone calls to Call Ruby, so the calls will be answered while you are out of the office. Corina will show you how to transfer the calls to Call Ruby when you are out of the office.

When you leave the office at the end of the day, you should press a button your phone that directs all incoming phone calls to Call Ruby. When you leave the office, Call Ruby will answer the phone calls for you.

Ruby will take messages for us. The messages are sent to our office by e-mail. Please return all of these calls.

Unscheduled Phone Calls for John H. Fisher

Unless the caller is on my “VIP List”, I do NOT accept unscheduled phone calls.

My VIP List includes:

  • Lawyers referring a new case (our “Referral Partners”),
  • Claims adjusters with whom I am discussing a settlement,
  • Judges, and
  • My family members.

If the caller is not on my VIP List, you should tell them that I am unavailable and ask them to schedule a time to speak with me between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. You should then enter the appointment in Google Calendar and send me an email informing me of the new phone appointment.

If a caller is not on my VIP List, ask them to send an email to me (jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com) that specifies the purpose of the phone call.

If the caller is not on my VIP List and does not want to schedule an appointment to speak with me, you can always refer their call to Corina. However, I will not accept the phone call.

You should try to handle all calls that come into the office for me or Corina. Most times callers have a simple question that you can answer.

RESPONSIBILITY #2

GETTING MEDICAL RECORDS

You will be responsible for requesting medical records. Our procedures for getting medical records are set forth in Chapter 10 of Our Team’s Playbook, entitled “Medical Records” (page 96).

Requesting Medical Records

In all of our cases, our clients sign a power of attorney that allows me to sign a release authorization on their behalf. A copy of the Power of Attorney is located in the Miscellaneous tab in Trialworks. With this Power of Attorney, our clients do not need to sign a release authorization since I am authorized to sign the release authorizations for them.

When I request medical records, I will send you an email that reads, “Please get Mr. Jones’s updated medical records from Dr. Smith from February 1, 2013 to the present”. It will be your job to prepare the release authorization for my signature and send the release authorization with the Power of Attorney to the treating physician or hospital. The request for the medical records should be mailed within 24 hours of the time that I ask you to get the medical records.

Follow-Up with Doctors and Hospitals

Most importantly, it will be your job to make sure that we receive the requested medical records form the physician or hospital. Oftentimes, the doctor or hospital will ignore our request for medical records for months.

Under section 18 of New York’s Public Health Law, the physician or hospital has ten (10) days to send the medical records to us. You should follow up with phone calls and letters to the physician or hospital if we have not received the medical records within ten days of our request.

We suggest that you follow up with the physician or hospital about the medical records within the following timeframes from the date of our initial request:

  • 10 days
  • 21 days
  • 31 days

If we do not have the medical records within 31 days of our initial request to the physician or hospital, please notify Corina and me by email, i.e., “It has been more than 31 days since our request for Dr. Smith’s updated medical records and he has not responded.”

When we receive new medical records, you should scan the new medical records into the Medical Records tab in Trialworks. See page 96 (Chapter 10) of Our Team’s Playbook for additional procedures when receiving new medical records.

RESPONSIBILITY #3

OPENING AND SCANNING MAIL

When you get the mail from the mailbox (mail arrives between 12:30 and 2:00), your top priority should be to:

  • Sort mail before opening
  • All non-client related mail goes to Corina (Rondout Savings, CDPHP, credit card bills…)
  • Open the mail
  • All invoices go to Corina
  • Date-stamp when appropriate (items that are not stamped: original documents such as wills, death certificates, official court documents, original documents signed by clients like POAs)
  • Scan the mail to the appropriate tab in Trialworks (see pages 126-130 of Our Team’s Playbook for the tabs in Trialworks where documents should be electronically filed)
  • Email the correspondence to the intended recipient (John, Corina or both of us)
  • No original mail goes to JHF.

This procedure for mail has the highest priority and everything else is second in priority. It is never acceptable to postpone the opening and scanning of new mail because you are busy doing something else. Mail should not be left sitting on your desk after it is received.

When we receive a fax, scan the fax to the appropriate tab in Trialworks and email the correspondence to the intended recipient.

We are a paperless office. If a document is not scanned into Trialworks AS SOON AS IT IS RECEIVED, our paperless office will not function.

All outgoing mail must be delivered to the Post Office by 4:30 pm every day.

Final Tips for Your Success

Random Acts of Kindness

Wowing our clients and referral partners is the #1 priority for you as our Problem Solver and Happiness Maker.

Our clients and prospective referral partners will get their first impression of our law firm from you. A friendly smile and a nice personal touch (i.e., “It’s great to hear from you.”) make all the difference. You should smile every time you answer the phone—a warm smile guarantees that you’re happy to speak with our clients.

You should do at least one “Random Act of Kindness” every day that will convey a warm, personal touch. The warm touch might be a handwritten “thank you” letter or a box of chocolates or flowers; your “random act of kindness” can be anything—use your imagination and be creative. You have my complete permission to perform “Random Acts of Kindness” as often and whenever you see a chance to “WOW” our clients and referral partners.

John’s Email Policy

I only review email twice a day—once at noon and again at 4:00 p.m. (some days I do not open Microsoft Outlook at all).   I cannot be effective unless I have large blocks of uninterrupted work time and email is a constant annoyance.

If you have an urgent matter that requires my immediate attention (i.e., the Judge wants to speak with you right away), you should buzz my phone or come back to my office to tell me. Email is not an effective way to communicate urgent information to me.

Corina’s Executive Assistant

Whenever Corina asks for help, please do whatever she asks. The errands consist of getting the mail, delivering a document to another lawyer’s office, picking up an expert witness at the airport, picking up lunch for our clients/experts, or just about anything.

If the errand involves travel with your car, please keep track of your miles and tolls and you will be reimbursed for your travel expenses. Corina will provide you with an “Expense Reimbursement” sheet, which you can complete and get reimbursed by our bookkeeper.

Read Before You Sign

Read this Position Contract and let us know if you have any questions or disagree. When you are ready to commit yourself 100%, please sign each page of this Position Contract, return one original to us and keep one original.

Let’s get to work!

___________________________________ Dated: January 5, 2017

Mary Hudgens

 

___________________________________ Dated: January 5, 2017

John H. Fisher

 
photo credit: DiariVeu – laveupv.com 153349919 via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.
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