“Concierge services”—one of the hottest current business buzzwords—have caught on in Westchester, with a range of companies offering specialized assistance to customers and clients in a range of fields, from real estate, to insurance, to health care, among others. With many busy residents short on time, offering concierge services for their clients—whether to lessen the stress of buying a house, dealing with illness, or purchasing an insurance plan—has been a successful business strategy.
Now, the trend has hit the legal field in Westchester, with White Plains-based law firm Brown, Gruttadaro, Gaujean & Prato PLLC (BGGP) leading the way. The firm offers clients the concierge service of 24/7 access to their attorneys for assistance in any legal matter, including things like contractual and employee negotiation, elder care, criminal matters, basic traffic tickets, and insurance issues. BGGP launched this Concierge Legal Services (CLS) program for its clients in the healthcare field in October 2015, with a program called Concierge Legal Services for the Medical Professional. It is the first law firm in Westchester to offer such a service.
BGGP founding partner, Max Guajean
“The specialty of many of the attorneys in our office is health care law,” explains BGGP founding partner Max Gaujean. “We felt strongly that our database of current and prospective clients in the health care industry—physicians, hospitals, nurses, and other practitioners—would benefit from this service.” In addition to the 24/7 attorney access, the program provides clients with “access to our firm’s large network of legal, business, and personal referral resources,” if they have need a legal service which BGGP does not provide.
The program is fairly new, but Guajean is excited about the possibilities that CLS can provide its healthcare clients. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Gaujean says. “Being able to offer this service to our clients gives them peace of mind, and makes us an even more important partner in their personal and professional lives.”
Gaujean believes BGGP’s annual billing policy for the program’s services also contributes to this “peace of mind” for the firm’s clients. Usually, clients not enrolled in the CLS program are billed by the hour. However, this presented a few concerns for clients.
“We were finding that clients would have a legal question unrelated to the work we were currently doing with them,” Gaujean explains. “They would not reach out because they did not want to worry about the ticking billing clock.”
As part of its Concierge Legal Services program, Brown, Gruttadaro, Gaujean & Prato offers clients the option of selecting an annual billing policy rather than the typical hourly rate—something they say is a big savings for its clients.
Gaujean sees the annual billing fee as a way to quell the reticence of clients to reach out for services. “By paying the annual fee, clients can call us anytime with any question, big or small, and don’t have to worry about getting billed for it,” he says. “Our clients appreciate the fact that our fee structure is based on the amount of years one has been in practice; the newer the doctor, the smaller the fee.”
Gaujean recalls one such instance where this unique billing system helped save a client save over $11,000 in legal fees.
“The client was transferring insurance and called us in to negotiate the termination terms with the old insurance company,” Gaujean explains. “Negotiations were handled over the course of several months and would normally have been billed at a rate of over $500 per hour. Since this particular CLS client was a member of our program, they only paid the $1,500 entry fee to join the program. We estimated the hours in the vicinity of 25 hours, which amounted to $12,500 (in savings).”
As for the negotiation itself, BGGP saved the client over $15,000 on premiums.
Of course, CLS is still in its infancy. As with any new professional endeavor, the program needs continuous evaluation and improvement, as necessary, in order to optimize its effectiveness and efficiency. Yet, Gaujean is confident about the future of CLS.
“We’re still working on finessing the current program for medical professionals,” he says, “but anticipate expanding the program to non-health care clients in the near future. The comfort that a concierge-legal services program provides is something we think clients will universally respond to and appreciate.”