Why Coming to Your Family Lawyer’s Office Is as Enjoyable as Going to the Dentist

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This post was written by Partner, Jason P. Howie.

Well, maybe it isn’t quite as enjoyable, but we try.

Do I like going to the dentist?

Yes and no.

No, because it is a dentist. No, because there will be moments of discomfort despite everyone’s best efforts. No, because I can’t talk (a real challenge for me). Add a tinge of worry that there is a problem; after all, they have been “monitoring” my whatever it is for a long time.

Yes, because I love the feeling after I have been to the dentist. Yes, because I have been taken care of. Yes, because I feel a little healthier. I know it was the right thing to do. And yes, because since it happens only a few times a year, it gets me out of the office for a little while.

But why do I like going to my dentist?

The beginning.

The office is located in a pretty accessible part of town. Easy parking. The trip to and from the office is not bad.

As soon as I walk into the office, there is a 90% chance that I will be greeted by the same employee. I know exactly what that employee does. She lets the other staff know I am there. She shows me where to sit. She tells me if they are running behind, which is unusual.

The predictability.

I know why I am there. A cleaning. An x-ray. Maybe I will see the dentist and maybe I won’t. By the way, by the time I get there, I forget why I am there because I don’t worry about it. It was explained to me ahead of time and it wasn’t important enough for me to notice.

I have the same hygienist every time. I know her technique. I know the part that starts the process and the part that ends it. And I know which teeth are more sensitive so I can momentarily muster my courage.

I know where I stand.

Sometimes an extra couple of minutes are spent explaining the good, the bad and occasionally, the ugly (I don’t need any comments, thank you). Explaining what to expect in the future.

When I am walked out the door, I get a bill. They have filed all of the forms for my insurance company reimbursement. They make it clear that it is my responsibility to pay and my responsibility to deal with the insurance company.

I am given my next appointment. It is written on a business card. If memory serves me correctly, I am sent a confirming email. Actually, I find the email a little annoying, but I understand. After all, the biggest management problem in the dental office is cancellations. (I’ve got the inside information.)

This is why I want to make our office like my dentist.

Accessible.

Routine.

Predictable.

Certain.

And one other thing I like …

Yes, some things are out of my control. No matter how often I look at my birth certificate, the date is not getting closer.

But – and this is a huge “but” – dare I say, 80 to 90% of my visit is dictated by what I do between visits.

The more I take care of my teeth in between visits, the better the appointment.

Boy, did my life get better when they recommended that I use a Sonicare. (I don’t want to get into the very emotional and explosive debate of Sonicare vs. Oral-B. That’s too much for me.)

The point is that I have control over most outcomes.

So let’s add this one to the list:

Accountability.

This is what I want to bring to my clients.

For all the reasons set out above.

This is why I am told I can’t bring this to my clients.

When I mentioned to my colleagues that I wanted to institute a dentist-like approach to my office, I was told that I was crazy. I was told it was impossible. I was told not to even try.

Law cases do not work on a fixed-time basis. Nobody would be happy if I saw them every 90 days.

Nobody cares about your location. Get an office next to the courthouse because it is more convenient.

Let the staff figure out who is doing what. After all, we have to cover for lunch breaks, vacations and emergencies.

How would you make a law case predictable? You never know for certain what a judge will decide. You never know what position the other side may take, who will be believed, or what documents you have.

Most of my work is done outside the presence of the client. When I work quietly on a case or draft documents, the client is not in the room.

The dentist has many operating rooms. Lawyers have to share the courthouse with others.

By the way, how many times does a patient call the dentist to ask, “Can you let me know the status of my dental health?”

I get it.

All right, enough. I know the comparison isn’t perfect. I know that my dentist does not have to deal with an opposing dentist who is trying to do the exact opposite of what my dentist is trying to do.

But it doesn’t stop us from trying.

We were very careful picking convenient office space.

Shelby handles the front desk and communications and billings. Mary handles financial productions and court conferences. Melissa handles court cases and drafting. Peter is your concierge. Your lawyer – Jason, Amy or Tristan – takes the lead depending upon different factors (too many to go into here, but the point is, you will know.)

We do our very best to be transparent. No, you will not watch me draft a document, but you will have an idea of what the challenges are. What parts are pretty standard. What parts are tricky. What parts make me slap my forehead (sometimes).

We provide a flow chart to give you an idea of the anticipated steps in your case.

As far as certainty is concerned, we have a full team meeting every morning before our day gets started. The lawyers regularly bounce ideas off each other.

We give advice and guidance with the goal of allowing you to make smart decisions in between appointments so you can influence the result of your own case.

The result:

Is it perfect?

Oh, hell no.

Not even close.

It has never been perfect since the beginning of time. As proof, I have in my office the print of a 19th-century French cartoon in which the lawyers are commenting that a divorce is completed because both parties are bankrupt! Ask me and I will show you.

But we strive, every day, to get better.

Can we help?

Are you contemplating a change in your relationship status? At Howie Johnson, we strive to be accessible and use our experience to give the best advice we can. It would be our honour to represent you.

Howie Johnson Barristers & Solicitors Provides Compassionate, Trusted Divorce and Family Law Services

At Howie Johnson Barristers & Solicitors in Windsor, we view separation and divorce holistically, addressing all collateral issues that may lead to future legal problems. Our knowledgeable family and divorce lawyers take the time to listen to all of our clients’ concerns, answer their questions, and provide them with sound insight into their legal options. We take a calm, rational approach to family law and proudly assist clients with divorce, property issues, and parenting-related matters in Windsor, Essex County, and throughout the surrounding region. To schedule a consultation, please reach out online or call 519-973-1500.

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