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Calling all Concierges!

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 21, 2018

No. 1,401

This classified ad appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on January 21, 2018.

We all know what a concierge used to be.  It was the person at a desk by the door of a hotel who not only recommended a restaurant, but made your reservations.  The concierge often could straighten out your airline tickets or any number of problems that travelers encounter but don’t have the time, expertise and influence to fix. Pretty useful. No wonder the word has such a positive ring to it.

So much so, that unrelated businesses started to call their help desk a concierge. If you bought your health insurance from UPMC, you had access to their concierge service that would pilot you through the mysteries of things medical.  Others have pushed the concept further. There are private medical practices that bill themselves as concierge and offer paid-up-front memberships. Epic Medical, for example, states in its website that “Concierge medicine individualizes private health care to your lifestyle and needs, supporting your quality of life.”  It touts “any-time office hours, preferred appointments, 24/7 physician access, nutrition/wellness counseling, house calls ..” Yipes! House calls!

Not to be outdone by anybody, the American Express Platinum Card touts a “complimentary concierge” for members.  And all this has led to personal concierge services and even hyper-personal concierge service for the wealthy.  And senior concierge services, too. They drive them to the doctors, do shopping or whatever is needed.

It is starting to sound like we are becoming a nation of servants.

And yes, there are concierge lawyers.  Or at least there are law firms who advertise  a concierge practice. Holborn Law, a California firm, says that it maintains both a traditional practice and a concierge law practice. In a blog post entitled “Concierge Lawyer: The Future of Law?”, it describes the concierge law practice thusly:

“One aspect of concierge lawyering involves better access to your lawyer. For many concierge lawyers, clients have the choice of meeting at the lawyer’s location, having an attorney come to their home or business, or conducting a video consultation. With lawyers available on weekends and after usual business hours, clients no longer have to miss work to meet with an attorney.”

It touts, among the benefits, access during off-hours, avoiding traffic and down town parking.  “With a concierge lawyer, clients may be able to sign a one time retainer that makes their lawyer just a quick phone call away. Not only can this approach save time and money, but it can easily result in a more positive client experience.”

What hasn’t been quite spelled out here is that concierge clients often pay an annual or quarterly retainer for the privilege of off-hour phone consultations.  Larry Boudine, a legal marketing maven, spells it out in his “Lawmarketing Blog.”

“The clients love it, because they frequently need input on a decision they’re about to make, but just want to run it by the firm lawyer first.  They are less interested in getting a long opinion letter or extensive policy written.  They just want a quick answer.

The lawyer loves it too.  She gets paid a quarterly retainer — revenue she can count on — and the calls act as a feeder for her litigation practice for which she charges by the hour. She has set up concierge services for fast-food chains, which have lots of employee issues.”

Some law firms call themselves a concierge practice because they make house calls.  Here’s a divorce lawyer who calls himself a concierge in Florida.

At this point, many lawyers who are reading this will be saying to themselves, “I do all this, but I don’t charge an annual retainer.”  And that would be a fair assessment.  Lawyers have been concierges for thousands of years.  The use of the designation  “concierge law practice” is redundant.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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