Klemchuk Kubasta, a 13-lawyer intellectual property firm in Dallas, no longer employs a receptionist to answer the phone or sign for packages. As of Jan. 1, all nonlawyer employees, from the office manager to the docketing clerks, are taking turns staffing the centrally located reception desk, says founding partner Darin Klemchuk. (Tessa Redel, the firm's director of employee services, is pictured at the front desk.) “This has been great for our culture,” Klemchuk says, noting that employees are getting to know clients and each other better. Klemchuk says that since the firm opened in 2009, the firm has hired college graduates for the receptionist position, but each would be promoted after a few months. He says the last receptionist was recently promoted to executive assistant, so Klemchuk decided to have the staff share the job instead of continuing on a path of hiring a new receptionist every few months. Klemchuk says he was a bit apprehensive, because he thought there might be a few people with “bad attitudes” about having to sit at the reception desk for a half day every two weeks. But, he says, it’s gone “really well,” despite a few dropped telephone calls. To make it work, Klemchuk says, the lawyers at the firm had to promise to respect everyone’s time on the reception desk. “You can’t go play the trump card and get somebody off the desk because you failed to do your filing on time,” he says. With the money the firm is saving without a receptionist position, Klemchuk says the firm may hire a client services director.
--Brenda Sapino Jeffreys