Taking the Leap KnowingWhen Baby StepsWon’t Cut It
One time, my grandfather and I had to cross a drainage ditch filled with water. As I carefully took little steps up to the edge, my grandpa stopped me and said, “It’s good to take careful little steps, except when it’s time to jump. Then, you better jump all the way because otherwise, you’ll baby step your way right into the ditch.” Grandpa may have only been specifically talking about the drain, but I’ve always carried those words with me. I use them as a reminder that precautions and baby steps can be a smart choice, but knowing when and how to commit to the big jump is how we overcome more serious challenges. When I first began practicing law on my own, George Ahrend and I started Ahrend Albrecht Law Firm together. But by the end of 2014, we had separate offices in separate cities with separate staff and cases. The partnership just didn’t have that much to share, and we agreed it was time to split. I suggested we make this change as quickly as possible. We agreed to take three weeks to get everything organized to go our separate ways. By January 2015, my friend George was running Ahrend Law, and I had started Albrecht Law. There was still a few years of trailing work we did together, but by the end of the transition, George and I were still friends, and we even
continue to associate on cases. The saving grace for our relationship — and why we never heard any complaints from clients —was a firm foundation of trust and integrity at the core of the relationship and developing and committing to a swift plan for how to achieve our goals. While our initial estimate to have our partnership completely terminated within a matter of weeks was dismantled, the path to get to our original goal was still smooth. When people have different goals in mind, they don’t have to be enemies; you can want different results and still work well together. I’ve since applied this lesson more recently, too. After five years with G12 communications, Albrecht Law recently made a switch to a new phone service. I hemmed and hawed about ripping off the Band-Aid and making this transition, but I knew our old phone system just didn’t have the features our growing practice needed, and I had found a new provider that was already integrated with the system another vendor of ours used. Then, the dreaded cancellation conversation had to happen. You know… the one where the vendor puts you through the ringer, at first politely, then pounds you with all the contract penalties and other fees they’re going to hit you with. And there’s always worry: Will they hold my number hostage or intentionally mess up the transition? they said they were sorry we were leaving and asked us what they could do better in the future. I had a wonderful conversation with Rick Coma of G12 Communications, and as a company, they made this transition as smooth as possible, even going so far as to make sure our phone numbers were forwarded correctly. It made us sad and nervous to leave this kind But G12 communications didn’t beg us to stay or threaten us with contract penalties. Instead,
of customer service, but Rick and G12 knew we needed the services of the other company, too. Kudos to them for knowing how to make a transition in a way that will leave me happily recommending them to other small businesses for years. Knowing when to jump is difficult when you’re fighting for compensation or facing the aftermath of an accident. Some clients question whether they should seek legal help, while others fear agreeing to a settlement they are offered because a better one may be coming. Ultimately, you have to take the leap at some point. Between splitting with George and leaving G12 Communications, I understand the fear of jumping into the unexpected. But, as my grandfather taught me, when the time comes to jump, you better jump all the way, or you’ll surely end up in the ditch.
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