From a business, marketing and practice-management perspective, the contact information for our clients (past and present), referral sources, vendors and related professionals is perhaps the most vital information we will manage.
From a day-to-day perspective, it is easy to overlook collecting and maintaining this contact information. We obviously keep the contact information for our current clients and opposing counsel. But how consistently do we keep, maintain, and update the contact information for past clients? Past co-workers? Past opposing counsel? Accountants, Realtors, financial planners, expert witnesses and other related professionals? Attorneys who practice in different areas of law who we meet at networking events? And in what platform?
I offer this observation and the gentle suggestion of the importance of being cognizant of these practices after spending the better part of three evenings updating many years’ worth of contacts and wishing I had done a better job with this information on an ongoing basis (and cursing myself for not).
I provide two suggestions from my ordeal to hopefully save you time and energy when you update your contacts:
1. Make sure that you know how your smartphone handles contacts. In other words, check the default setting that applies when you enter a new contact into your phone. Does the new contact default to iCloud? Does the new contact default to Google? I apparently have spent two years pulling out my iPhone and entering new contacts into iCloud when all along it had been my intent to enter them into Google.
2. Be cautious about using contact migration software. There are a number of software programs available that will automatically upload the sender or recipient of an email to your contacts. While this makes the job easier of ensuring that your contact database is full and complete, there are two issues which may arise with this software.
First, it is unlikely that you will want every single sender and recipient of every single email you send to be in your list of contacts. But more importantly, this software may not upload client contact information in consistent form in that it may import different fields in the signature block strangely (for example, the entire mailing address imported in the “city” field).
Going forward, I know that I will be more cognizant of how frequently and in what manner I enter and update the contact information not just for the clients who keep my lights on, but for the referral sources, colleagues, vendors, and related professionals who help me maintain my practice.