Sometimes I get to spend time travelling around the country visiting law firms. It’s not a hobby it’s an occupational necessity so, in an effort to address my mindset I’ve rebranded this task and turned myself into a law firm tourist. If there was an Expedia for law firms I’d be wearing the hat marked ‘Chief Reviewer ‘* mentally sharpening my pencil and reaching for note pad.
Like any good tourist I do my homework in advance; a peek at the Law Society register, a check of the firm’s website and a trawl of the internet applying my own secret search terms. Whilst it’s not necessary to take out insurance** or attempt to play the exchange rate game I do check out the surrounding location to work out accessibility. Do they have onsite parking or do I have to make my own arrangements? How helpful is the firm in providing this information once I get to make an appointment? Just how good is their concierge service?
My task as Chief Reviewer *straightens desk sign* starts with first impressions, the window-dressing that says so much about the product that is on sale. Get it wrong and people either have to work to get to the product or just chose another one. Here are three of my reviews. What do you think?
Law Firm Number 1: Regional Firm £££ (out of town, onsite parking)
“Just park in the car park” was the instruction. Simple enough but when I get there the car park, shared with other businesses is full to overflowing. I work out where the offices are but struggle to identify the right parking area but I was wasting energy on that task as there were no spaces readily available. I abandon my car and walk away glancing nervously over my shoulder expectantly awaiting admonishment from a self appointed car-parking tsar. As it didn’t happen I scuttled quickly towards the entrance door and seeing that it was a swing door entrance I confidently walked forward right through the doors that actually didn’t swing! There was nothing broken other than my pride and as I rubbed my forehead I noted a sign offset to the left hand side asking that I use the buzzer set into the wall at my shoulder height. So I did. And I waited and waited. I did it again and waited. Maybe it was broken? Maybe I’ve got the wrong place? In the end I did a buzz-buzz-buzz and petulantly stamped my foot and a voice says “hello, come through” and the door is released. What exactly was the point of the security feature? I walk forward into a lobby and stand wondering where next. Some worker bees coming down the stairs towards me obviously saw my befuddled look and pointed off to my left “reception’s that way” and indeed it was. The receptionist was curt and managed to break the conversation she was having with a colleague to take my details and ask me to be seated in the micro seating area before she made a quick call and returned to her chat. The reception area was buzzing with activity, people coming and going and a lot of chatter and once I got past all the physical barriers the place had a really good feel to it.
Law Firm Number 2: Regional Firm £££ (out of town, onsite parking)
“I’ll email you all you need to get to us and, when you get here, pop your car in the parking space directly opposite the entrance”. They did and I did. I walked through the front doors into a reasonable sized reception area to be greeted with a smile and an “it’s nice to meet you, how can I help you today?” I gave my name, I was expected and the receptionist took time to settle me down even asking if I wanted the TV channel switched so that I could watch Levenson. The reception area was quiet and tranquil but it was annexed to an open plan area so there was a comfortable buzz of activity and the room felt like a transition point, time to collect myself before I moved on. The area was nicely furnished tying in some modern art with relics of a bygone age (and I don’t mean a picture of the Senior Partner), something to look at and give a flavour that the business is linked with the community. The plants were also healthy which I took as a good sign! In some ways it was a bit vanilla but you know what ‘they’ say about vanilla…
Central London £££££ (close to public transport) – I didn’t call ahead for this one as there was no need. Past the first guard turn left through a set of doors and, holy crap I’ve gone the wrong way! It’s not a reception it’s a massive two storey high art gallery all white floors, walls and oversized features. The receptionists are beautiful and immaculately turned out and seated behind massive display screens. They are uber polite and attentive and direct me to the seating area a mêlée of couches and 70’s inspired egg shaped swivel chairs. There are phones available and I instantly feel the need to ring my stockbroker (I don’t have a stockbroker) or take an urgent call just to prove that I have a right to occupy the space even if just for a moment. There was an expensive looking coffee machine in the corner. They didn’t say that I could but, in for a penny in for a pound, I helped myself and no alarms went off. Nonchalantly sauntering back to my chosen couch I uncomfortably sat back feeling like I had become part of the visual installation and silently said a prayer of thanks that I was dressed up rather than down. I heard the phone ring and the receptionist confirm that she would communicate a slight delay to me. The size of the room was such that she had to get up from her seat and walk over to me to chat. She could have hollered but that would have broken the sense of calm. This reception area was the visual equivalent of the statute of David; there is absolutely no hiding from what’s on display.
*terms and conditions available on request
**subject to review