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Observations on the ABI's 33rd Annual Spring Meeting

The American Bankruptcy Institute’s Spring Meeting consistently features a host of top-notch speakers from across the country. ABI’s 33rd Annual Spring Meeting held in Washington, D.C. was no different. With a broad range of in-depth topics, the conference offered something for all attendees.

While many sessions were deserving of comment and further discussion, I wanted to write about one that I know all professionals could benefit from reviewing. The ABI session was titled, “What Do Clients Really Want?” While tailored to clients and their outside counsel, many portions of the session were great reminders of how we can all be more effective, professional, and thus, successful. For example:

    Responsiveness is key:  failure to return phone calls and emails is generally the number one complaint

Focusing on professional communications, no one likes to receive delayed responses, to be avoided, or ignored. On the flip side, everyone appreciates those who are known for prompt responses. Being responsive confronts issues and solves problems in a timely manner. We all know what we expect and hope we are provided the same in return. Responsiveness is a practice that is noticed and worth perfecting: it is “generally the number one complaint” clients have with their professionals and in this competitive market, every edge counts.

    Timing:  if avoidable, don’t leave matters to the last minute, failing to meet deadlines

Procrastination and deadlines-both are prevalent in law and most other demanding industries. Many of us have been down to the wire and made those tough deadlines. However, when deadlines are missed, things can quickly turn catastrophic. Whether it is the threat of a lawsuit, loss of a big client, or your reputation is on the line, all deadlines carry consequences. Good planning, time management, and execution are the only ways to circumvent last-minute projects and the problems that ensue when deadlines are missed.

    Reply to all:  use this button with discretion! You need to think carefully about whether “all” really need to be aware of your reply

We have all seen the questionable or unprofessional “reply to all,” and were left wondering what the individual was thinking. As mentioned in the session, do not use it as a CYA tool- it is unprofessional and everyone recognizes the motivation for using it.

    Phone messages:  remember that messages can be forwarded

We can get frustrated and incensed in our professions and communicating during these times can be humiliating and unprofessional. Many of us have been provoked or irritated to the point that we could have easily left someone a fully charged email or voice mail. Hopefully, clearer minds prevailed. If you do find yourself tempted to expel obscenities or speak your mind, just remember your communication may not end with the recipient. Instead, it may be forwarded to peers, filed in court documents, or worse yet, posted on the internet. You can still be firm in your position without being disrespectful or unprofessional.

If you are interested in more information on this or other sessions held at the 33rd Annual Spring Meeting, please contact the ABI or the speakers. The speakers for this session were:  James T. Markus, Steven Charles Krause, Anne M. Peterson, John J. Ray III, Cherie Schaible, and Ronald M. Tucker.

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