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‘Can I get files with that?’ – Firm adds drive-thru for clients

By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer

There are several things you might expect to see when you pull up to a drive-thru window at a fast-food restaurant.

The window attendant, of course. The cash register. Maybe even the soda dispenser and employees bustling about in the background, serving delectables to the customers waiting inside.

But a lawyer? Seriously?

Yup. That’s exactly what you’ll find if you visit the Manchester, Conn., office of the Kocian Law Group.

The personal injury firm has converted an old Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant into a full-service law office where – yes, indeed – clients can pick up or receive documents via the drive-thru window.

People can also zip over once a week to pick up their workers’ comp checks at the window, according to a recent article in the ABA Journal.

We’ve apparently entered yet another new age in the modern practice of law. Paperless is passé. Novelty is neat-o.

“We have drive-thrus for ATMs and we have that customer convenience. Why not a law firm?” attorney Nick Kocian said in an interview with NBC.

I’ll tell you why, Nick, since you asked. It’s the cheesiest gimmick in the world.

I already roll my eyes every morning when – inevitably – the same law firm ad shows up on TV advising me to tell the insurance companies “I mean business” by calling the law offices of X, Y & Z.

That exact same ad, with the exact same actor, has instructed me to so the exact same thing when I’ve been in Boston, Atlanta and Greenville, too.

Also, my scenic drive to work each morning is already peppered with no shortage of drive-thru windows.

I can immediately call to mind two McDonald’s restaurants, a Starbucks, three banks, an Arby’s, a Burger King, a Cook-Out, a Taco Bell, a Wendy’s and a Chick-fil-A.

That means, from a marketing standpoint, the firm’s increased visibility could be a perk.

When hungry injured people are driving along looking for a place to eat, they’ll spot Kocian’s drive-thru and exclaim, “Oh, my! They don’t have my rotisserie chicken and potato wedges, but maybe I can hire a lawyer off the dollar menu!”

Then they’ll pull in the parking lot and realize they have to come inside if they want details on what types of legal services are available.

Lure them with the promise of drive-thru convenience and force them to limp inside to find out if they want to place an order. Classy.

That said, I wouldn’t want them to do a consultation at the drive-thru window, either. And to Kocian’s credit, they don’t.

But still, think of the margin for error. I’m not a big patron of fast-food places, but I’ve been to enough drive-thru windows to have my order screwed up more than once.

And my surname – Smith – is the most common in the country, according to 2000 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. What if I came to Kocian’s drive-thru window to pick up my file one busy day and ended up with the one for Diane Smith, not Diana Smith?

It could happen in a traditional office setting, too. But I’ve worked customer service before, and you move faster when you can see a growing queue. I pity the paralegal that has to staff that window.

That said, I do think there is one place where Kocian’s new ploy will do some good.

The firm will be open nights and weekends.

While I wouldn’t want to be the lawyer and paralegal slogging those shifts, there is legitimate value added to the client whose paycheck suffers if he misses work for appointments with his attorney.

Still, I don’t think I’m ready for the drive-thru law firm in South Carolina.

And if South Carolina lawyers aren’t ready for it either, I’m lovin’ them.

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