“Boy, this doesn’t seem like the typical law firm”

I hear this phrase after nearly every new appointment.  Maybe it’s the home-like feel of the office; maybe it’s the casual, friendly staff; maybe it’s the wet nose marks on the front door from the dog Jake; maybe it’s the friendly greeting by the staff, happy to come to work most days.  Whatever it is, we are not your typical law firm.

Law firms have a bad rap.  The average client has probably never been to see a lawyer.  They picture men (probably) in suits, neatly arranged furniture and business magazines and a quiet sophisticated air.  We are just as serious as those firms about caring for our clients, make no mistake.  We are however, the family room to those living rooms.  Nothing wrong with either room in the house, just different purposes.

Our culture and atmosphere is no accident.  It is designed to do much.  First and foremost, I want our office to be accessible and comfortable to our clients facing the changes of aging.  The office is open and inviting.  The reason for this is that the stress of whatever brings them to the office should not be compounded by the stress of the experience within the law office.  Dealing with an elderly parent or spouse is hard enough without having to feel self-conscious when you get here.

The other benefit of a comfortable office is that our clients open up more when they feel more comfortable.  Many times family dynamics are challenged by the aging process.  The parent who held the family together is incapacitated and the dynamics shift between the children.  The grieving of losing a parent whether through death or advancing dementia takes its toll on families.  We want people to open up to us.  The culture is part of that.  We often hear that clients are surprised by what they open up about during their first meetings.

The other benefit of our culture is that the staff feel comfortable.  Each employee is a partner in the provision of services to the clients they serve.  They are encouraged to feel comfortable at work and that translates into a welcoming home-like atmosphere for the clients.  The staff who interact with Medicaid will almost never wear a suit to a Medicaid face-to-face meeting.  To do so would only have the caseworkers feel disconnected from our clients and thence give a lower chance of approval.  Nearly every week someone asks our staff members if we have openings.

I have been learning a lot about culture through a new entrepreneurial program that I am attending: Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses.  It is sponsored by Goldman Sachs but administered by Tri-C at their Advanced Technology Center.  It has been an amazing experience and has taught me so much.  We learned about culture at companies like Zappos and how to creatively create culture.

Part of our culture includes taking care of our caregivers.  I will always remember giving one of our first clients, Ruthie, an assignment to go with her daughter to get her nails done.  It may seem like a small assignment but for her to leave her husband’s bedside for even an hour was a huge step.  Our caregiver night has been a staple of our yearly events schedule to foster the same caring attitude.  We treat caregivers to chair massage, nails, facials and dinner.  It is our pleasure to do this and most of the staff stick around to say hello to our amazing caregivers.

While we may not be as polished as other firms, we truly believe in our tag line… “The Difference is Care.”