Help staff communicate your firm’s mission and values

  • April 08, 2008
  • Allison C. Shields

Your firm’s values, mission, and differentiation (unique selling proposition, or “USP”) are the foundation of your marketing. They attract the right clients and keep them coming back and referring others. Every contact with clients conveys the firm’s culture, personality, values, account­ability, and intelligence. The first contacts with a firm set the tone for the entire client experience. They can truly make or break a relationship with a client—and they can also make or break your firm.

There are no unimportant positions in a law firm. Employees must be carefully selected and trained, particularly if they greet visitors, answer phones, or interact frequently with clients. Every person in a firm needs to understand his or her role within the firm, how that role contributes to the firm’s overall goals, and why the job is important to the success of the firm.

Compensation and advancement need to be based on the values that the firm espouses. Otherwise, they aren’t really values. Evaluate employees, includ­ing lawyers, based upon whether they are living up to the firm’s client service standards. Rewarding those who provide excellent client service—in all its forms—is bound to get employees more engaged in delivering that service.

Some additional practical tips to enhance communication of your values, mission and USP:

  • Introduce clients to the staff members in your firm, and make sure both clients and staff know which issues can be handled by staff and which require your individual attention.
  • Involve employees in developing or revising the firm’s mission and USP.
  • Create a game plan that tells staff exactly how to respond to clients, especially when you are unavailable.
  • Develop suggested “scripts” for employee voice mail and telephone answering that communicates your USP and mission.
  • Ensure that staff is instructed on how to direct calls properly and how to obtain information from clients.
  • Develop standards and tie perks, rewards, bonuses, and raises to client service.

Communicating the firm’s values, mission, and USP will come naturally if you live them on a daily basis and engage your employees in the process.

Allison C. Shields, president of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc., helps lawyers make their practices more productive, profitable, and enjoyable. Contact her at This article was published in GP Solo – ABA General Practice Solo and Small Firm Division. © 2008 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission.