With the practice of law, it’s not so much about professionalism and confidentiality and commitment to excellence and blah blah blah. It’s about the details that you fret about incessantly. One detail that attorneys often overlook is reading material to keep in the office bathroom, particularly material for clients. We recently spent five weeks
hiding out in office bathrooms researching this issue. This is what we found.
Don’ts. Honestly, no client wants to read a magazine or newspaper with the title Finance and Commerce or New York Legal News Today. I understand the need to display law-related materials, but putting these periodicals out to read is basically like putting a laminated law school diploma out on the table. Who cares? If you think clients imagine you smoking a pipe and reading these magazines, you’re wrong. They know the reality: you subscribe to these mags out of professional obligation and, not knowing what to do with them, you put them out on your lobby table. Don’t bother. It’s a waste of money and space.
Don’t cut out the subscription label. It just screams “we’re so cheap we beg our employees to donate their magazines to us.” Or it says to clients that you read this magazine on the crapper for a couple of weeks at home before bringing it in to work. Not a good image.
Dos. Gossip mags, healthy living periodicals, and Reader’s Digest (depending on your market). For women, consider clothing catalogs, like Title 9, Boden, or Anthropologie. They’re generally upscale, happy, and portray women with an impossible slate of interests and activities, like a brain surgeon who also surfs, raises three kids, and does yoga on a mountain crag. Chicks dig that. For men, sports rule, but not as much as you think. US Weekly is still a huge hit, as is People. But avoid trendy magazines like Rolling Stone, GQ, or the Economist. They’re too pointed and depressing.
Finally, consider making an iPad available for clients, as more and more people are taking the iPad into the bathroom for reading material. Place a sign on your receptionist’s desk that provides this information to clients, such as “Number 2? We’ve got an iPad2!” Or “Consider borrowing an iPad for your morning constitution. Courtesy of Flanagan, Miller and O’Brien.” Word to the wise, though. Make sure you attach a large ladling spoon, part of a broom handle, or some awkward device to the iPad so no one walks off with it. That’s just being cautious.