In the per diem biz you want to be busy....you want to have a lot of cases to cover. Ideally you want all the apperances in the same place at the same time. Of course, it never happens this way. I have ongoing business relationships with many other per diem attorneys. I don't view my "crew" as static. It's always changing, mostly growing, though occasionally people leave the fold.
Here are a few tips for potential crew members:
1. Saying "yes" to assignments is very good. When I am looking for help with coverage, I want to make one call and have the person say yes. I know that's not always possible, but if a person is consistently unavailable (after telling me to call them for work), I stop calling.
2. Be accessable. In this biz, not answering your cell phone, or not calling back within five minutes, is like saying NO. If you want work, be accessable.
3. Don't overprice yourself. Here's a surprise for some people. This is a competitive business, and it runs by the same rules as other businesses. If you price yourself too high, you will not get calls. If you can offer better terms, you get more work.
4. Don't overbook yourself. I can't stop a sub-contracted per diem from taking other work, but if you can't cover my stuff effectively, I can't use you. One way to not have this happen is to have per diem biz relationships. I always suggest to my crew that they can have their appearances covered within my crew, if this will help. This works only if the person respects and follows the next rule.
5. No client stealing. EVER. This means you do not solicit per diem business from other peoples clients. In fact, you DECLINE it if offered. I have done this many times. When appearances are being sub-contracted I always ask how the per diem wants the "contact question" handled. You have to know what to do if you must make a call from court. There are ways of handling this, but you have to be clear. This client stealing is a funny thing. I know some of my competitors solicit my accounts. It's not illegal. I just won't have a business relationship with those people. Here's how I know which competitors would solicit my accounts....If you are pretty busy in the Queens courthouses and you have never sought me or my crew out to help with coverage, I think it's because you think I will solicit your accounts. People who work with me, and have their own accounts, know I would NEVER do it. However, the fact that you worry about such a thing makes me KNOW that you would do it to me. You know who you are, so keep running your business your way. I'll stick with mine.
Something I noticed about these per diem biz relationship tips. While I wrote them for per-diem to per-diem deals, they are actually the backbone of the per-diem relationship with their lawyer/customer:
1. Say yes to the jobs.
2. Be accessable.
3. Price it right.
4. Don't overbook, be able to cover it well.
5. Work with integrity.