Category: The Business of Law

Customer service begins with the phone call

For nearly 10 years Ruby Receptionists has been answering my business calls and handling my law office’s messages. I was surprised and very pleased this month to be asked to speak on camera about why I like and appreciate Ruby. Every call to our main line during business hours is answered by a friendly — and live — voice.

Dean Alterman talks with Ruby Receptionists
Dean Alterman tells Ruby Receptionists why Alterman Law Group is so pleased with Ruby’s services

Why do we have the real people at Ruby answer our firm’s phones? It’s a way to show respect for our clients. No one’s ever raved to me about their great experience calling a bank or an airline and getting only a recorded voice that says “Listen carefully, because our options have recently changed,” and then gives them the standard message to press 1 for an employee directory or 2 for more options.


If you don’t choose your law firm for its copier, why does your law firm charge you for copies?

Many years ago, when I was with a larger firm, a client told me, “I don’t mind paying your fees, but why do you charge me for copying and postage?”  I took his comment to heart.  Since the original Alterman Law Office opened in 2006 we haven’t charged clients for ordinary copying and postage.  (We do pass through the cost of large outside copying jobs and certified mail.)  It’s our policy to this day, and it inspired this sedate yet slightly edgy advertisement.

The background story behind my photograph

I chose this photograph for our firm’s website not just because it’s an accurate if all-too-gray likeness of me, but because of the photograph in the background.  It’s of a 1964 political gathering.  I included it in my website photograph to acknowledge the two men who most directly influenced the career I chose.  They’re both in the background photograph.
Seated at center is my father, an unusually talented and able lawyer, and my first mentor in the profession. (He started teaching me about the business of law and introducing me to his clients before I entered first grade.) I might imagine him looking at me from the photograph with pride, even in black and white.
Left of my father is seated Paul Gold, who besides being my father’s longtime client was also a witness at my parents’ wedding. Mr. Gold was a prominent investor in downtown Portland, and it is he who sparked my interest in the law of real estate.
The man standing at the right was the reason for the gathering: Senator Hubert Humphrey, then running for vice president and famous for being loquacious. The photographer caught him in mid-speech, and he provides another reason I cherish the photograph: it’s one of the few occasions when Dad couldn’t get a word in edgewise.