When making appointments, use a calendar that allows enough space for appointments and meetings to be listed legibly. A calendar that displays the entire week at one glance is helpful. This allows the person viewing the calendar to easily see how the attorney's schedule looks for the next couple of days as opposed to viewing one day at a time.
Attorneys should not be shy about making notations on calendars. Do not rely on memory for keeping meetings and other scheduled appointments straight.
The secretary should always keep a duplicate of the attorney's calendar. At the beginning of each day (or the end of the previous day) the attorney's and secretary's calendars should be checked against each other to make sure they coincide. Attempt to review the day's calendar together so that you can make joint plans. After reviewing the calendar, you can begin planning your day.
When making appointments, be sure to obtain all of the necessary information from the client. One of the most important items you will need is a phone number where the client can be reached during the day. Emergency situations often arise and it may be necessary for you to contact the client to reschedule an appointment. Without a phone number where the client can be reached you will have to wait until the client comes in to inform him/her that the appointment has been cancelled.
Ask clients where they would prefer to receive their mail and telephone calls. Some would prefer to be contacted at home, others at work. Ask for convenient times of day to contact the client.
Ask what the consultation is in reference to. The type of case determines the type of information you need. For example, in a domestic matter, the attorney will need information regarding the client's financial situation. For a will update, the client should provide a copy of his/her existing will, as well as the correct names and addresses of the people who will be named in the will.
Having the necessary information up front will speed up the process and eliminate unnecessary delays. The use of preprinted forms is helpful. Prior to the initial conference the client could pick up the form questionnaire or you could mail one to the client. They could complete the questionnaire at their leisure and bring the completed form with them when they meet with the attorney.
Note to Attorney: The Client Intake section of this publication contains sample interview and intake forms.
Be sure to allot ample time for each appointment. More often than not appointments run longer than their scheduled time limit. Depending on the circumstances. you should allow approximately 1/2 to 1 hour for office conferences; two or more days for a trial and 1/2 to 1 day for depositions.
If the attorney is rushed and pressured, the whole office will feel the effects. It is better to schedule too much time as opposed to not enough time. Overcrowding and long delays in the reception area do not promote happy clients.