Meeting Client Expectations At the beginning of every file, seek to understand the client’s needs and expected outcomes. Listen carefully to what the client has to say. Be clear on the scope of the work desired by the client – do not assume you know. Ask the client how frequently progress reports are desired, weekly, monthly or on the occurrence of certain milestones. Ask the client if he or she has any preference in the way in which you report – phone, letter, e-mail etc. Develop a realistic timetable to achieve the client’s goals and communicate that to the client. Keep the client informed of developments and at decision points lay out the alternatives, make a recommendation and ask the client for his opinion and instructions. Follow up each meeting with a memo to the client outlining points discussed and action to be taken. Understand the clients business and where appropriate give proactive and strategic advice – periodically make a “house call”. On completion of each assignment provide your final report promptly. CLIENT SERVICE STANDARDS Accessibility and Responsiveness When away from his or her office during normal business hours we will advise our assistant where we will be (both in and away from the office) and how we can be reached. Assistants will answer the lawyer’s phone when the lawyer is unavailable – voice mail is the second alternative – not the first. Each lawyer shall communicate this to his or her assistant. Each lawyer, assistant and paralegal will provide an up to date voice mail greeting containing information on his or her availability to return phone calls and the name and phone number of his or her assistant or other person to contact in urgent situations. Phone calls will be returned promptly and usually within two hours unless the lawyer’s voice mail indicates otherwise. In any event all phone messages will be returned each day before the lawyer leaves the office. If a lawyer will be unable to check and respond to his or her e-mail during a business day, the “out of office assistant” shall be enabled with an appropriate message. Unless in a meeting with one or more other persons, a lawyer will answer his or her phone and not use call display to screen calls. Lawyers are encouraged to give out mobile phone numbers to clients and to consider including those numbers on business cards. Before a lawyer leaves for vacation, the lawyer will advise clients that are likely to call during such an absence and designate another lawyer to assist the client during such absence. We will meet or beat accepted deadlines. We will respond to all client requests with a sense of urgency at all times. Billing Practices We believe that legal costs should be addressed early to avoid unpleasant surprises. Confirm at the initial meeting with a new client (and immediately thereafter in writing as required by the Law Society Rules) the firm’s billing practices, including: Fees will be based on time spent on the matter by all lawyers and other time recorders and that time (including telephone conversations) is recorded in 6 minute intervals, unless otherwise agreed; The hourly rate of all lawyers and other time recorders that you anticipate will be working on the matter; Third party disbursements will be billed at cost and the unit cost of other charges, such as photocopying, faxing; Our accounts for fees, disbursements and other charges will be rendered monthly, unless otherwise agreed and overdue accounts bear interest at the rate of 18%. If the client is not a sophisticated user of legal services, we will give the client a realistic cost estimate at the initial meeting or as soon thereafter as is practicable. Periodically we will advise that client of accumulated costs. OUR CORE VALUES In the pursuit of firm goals and the implementation of firm strategies, each of our professionals will be governed and shall abide in our professional activities by the following principles: Professionalism, Honesty and Integrity We will be professional. Professionalism is taking pride in your work, a commitment to quality (to the highest standards of the legal profession). Professionalism is a dedication to the interests of the client and a sincere desire to help. Professionalism is complete and faithful compliance with the Code of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Alberta and seeking to enhance the public image of our profession. Professionalism is respectful and civil conduct towards the judiciary, our clients, our partners, associates and staff and other professionals, their clients and their staff and the public. We will be honest. Honesty is being fair, open and sincere; it is not lying or misleading. Honesty is being open with each other as lawyers, avoiding gossip and keeping our business and affairs confidential. We will act with integrity. Integrity is the uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles. Excellence in Professional Skills We will constantly strive to upgrade our own technical knowledge and competence. We will keep our knowledge of the law current in the areas in which we practice. We will attend and participate in continuing legal education programs. We will share information and experiences with our lawyers and in this way add to their knowledge. We will train and mentor our articling students, fellow lawyers and para-professionals. Professionalism First, Firm Second, Self-Interests Third We will fulfill our duties and responsibilities to the legal profession and we will subject our autonomy and our self-interests to what is in the best interests of firstly, our clients and, secondly, the firm. Subject to client approval, which we will endeavour to obtain, we will delegate work appropriately. We will introduce our clients to other lawyers in the firm so that our clients are familiar with our lawyers, their abilities and the depth of experience and service that is available to them. We commit to succession planning recognizing that doing so is in the best interests of our clients and the firm. We recognize that all clients are firm clients and shall conduct ourselves accordingly. Excellence in Client Satisfaction In addition to providing high quality technical service to our clients, we will strive for excellence in client satisfaction by: Becoming familiar with our client’s business and industry so that we can advise our clients of emerging and relevant legal developments and thereby add value to our service to our clients. Listening carefully to what our clients say and want and obtain clear instructions to the fullest extent possible. Giving good explanations of what we are doing and why and providing timely advice on the costs and associated risks of proposed actions and proceedings. Keeping our clients sufficiently informed on progress and, when appropriate, the accumulated fees and disbursements incurred. Making sure we are accessible and available when needed and that back-up personnel are available when we are not. Notifying and seeking approval on changes in scope. Setting realistic task completion dates and keeping our promises on deadlines. Maintaining personal contact with our clients and having a genuine interest in our clients beyond the specifics of their tasks. To that end we will adhere to our Client Service Standards. Teamwork We are one firm with offices in Edmonton and Calgary. Our strength is derived from and will be fostered by one firm serving the legal needs of our intended marketplace. “Teamwork is a group of people working together towards a common goal. The ability to direct individual accomplishments towards organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to achieve uncommon results.” (Andrew Carnegie). There is no “I” in “Team”. “Together Everyone Achieves More”. At the firm level, teamwork means a committed effort to work co-operatively with all lawyers and staff. At the practice group level teamwork means a committed effort to work co-operatively with all members of the practice group to achieve the goals of the practice group set out in the practice group business plan. At the individual level teamwork means a committed effort to achieve the goals of the individual set out in his or her personal marketing plan and Continuing Professional Development plan. Our personal marketing and Continuing Professional Development plans will be in harmony with the goals and objectives of our practice group business plans and our practice group business plans will be in harmony with the goals and objectives of our firm strategic plan. Characteristics of Teamwork are: Members of the team share a common purpose and have a shared commitment to achieve the team’s goals and objectives. Members of the team are skilled and confident they can carry out their work. Members of the team trust one another, respect one another and consider other team members point of view. Members of the team communicate openly and share information. Teamwork is not restricted to billable activities (client-service time), but extends to firm management, marketing and professional development (investment time). Teamwork shall include conscious succession planning by senior members of the team to ensure continuity of service to clients despite departures and retirements from the firm. Effective Practice Management We expect each professional to use his or her best efforts to achieve the firm goals, practice group goals and his or her personal goals. We recognize three time categories, namely, client service time (billable activities), investment time (firm management, marketing, professional development and other activities consistent with our Vision statement) and individual time (everything else). While serving our client’s interests must always come first, we recognize the importance of investment time and will treat investment time commitments as equally sacred as time serving clients. A primary focus of the investment time of each of our professionals will be to develop additional work and better quality work from our existing clients and to attract new clients to our firm. We will manage our income time and investment time to make it as productive as possible. Leadership The task of a leader is to help others succeed. A leader must be seen as being primarily committed to the success of the group or firm, rather than his or her own self-interests. A leader’s actions speak louder than words. Leaders set an example. Leaders are supportive and nurturing, but demanding – a “challenging supporter”. A leader gets satisfaction from the accomplishments of others. Leadership obligations increase with seniority. Leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen. Leaders need to ensure the creation of strategies, systems and methods for achieving excellence and building knowledge and capabilities. Leadership is the art of creating an environment and influencing people to willingly follow a chosen direction. It requires a clear vision and guides followers to the path that realizes that vision. Leadership directly and positively affects the opinions and attitudes of people, leading to change in individual’s behaviour then group behaviour. Leadership helps individuals and groups accept uncertainty, because they have confidence that the leader will provide solutions to any problems that they may arise. Leaders create an environment that respects the person, improves communications, harnesses the power of the individual and the teams, acknowledges achievement and creates enthusiasm. Leadership is about taking action and communicating values in the context of the relationship. It is not about reinforcing the status quo and the reliance on hierarchy. We commit to conducting ourselves in accordance with all of the foregoing core values and will not tolerate non-observance of our core values by other lawyers in the firm.