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The Jones Law Firm Blog

How Did Walt Disney Help Your Divorce?

Walt Disney was a genius. You can see it in everything that this now global billion dollar company lays hands on. But it wasn’t alway that way. DisneyLand opened on July 17th, 1955 to a crowd of some 30,000 invited guest and the event had so many troubles and malfunctions, it is still to this day referred to as “Black Sunday“. One of the resolutions to the problems of this day is what we now refer to as “Queueing”. If you have ever been to Disneyland or DisneyWorld, then you have paid untold amounts of money to visit a former swamp, in sweltering heat, surrounded by every communicable disease known to man, overpriced food and beverages, all to stand in line for 30min-2hrs. and take a 10 minute amusement park ride.

It seems strange, but the strangest part is that you are happy about doing it. There are a number of ways that Disney makes you happy with your purchase, but one of the main ways is Queueing, or providing you with an estimate of your time in line. Queuing works because as human begins: 1. time passes slower when we aren’t doing anything. (you’ve no doubt experienced this at work or in a doctors waiting room.) 2. Knowing that activity is occurring makes waiting shorter than wondering if activity is occurring. (this is why Doctors give family members updates during surgery) 3. Anxiety makes everything including waiting, seem to last longer. 4. A finite known wait time doesn’t seem as long as a unknown wait time. (A watched pot of waiter never boils) 5. Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits. 6. If the payoff is good enough, it is worth the wait.

Disney decided to combat this problem by posting a sign at the beginning of each line that tells you approximately how long it will be until you reach your ride. Guest are then greeted each step of the line with updates letting them know how much further they must go until they reach their turn on Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean. In doing so Disney has addressed criteria number 4 by telling the customer how long they must wait. The Customer can then decide whether to stand in line, knowing from the beginning, they will wait at least X amount of time. Throughout the line, Disney offers music, and updates on expected wait times, meeting both criteria 1 and 2. The key though to Disney’s Queueing strategy is that rarely does the guest wait the listed amount of time. In most cases the guest is told they will wait 45 minutes, and in less than 15 minutes they arrive at a sign letting them know they have another 30 minutes to wait. Five minutes thereafter they are alerted that they are 15 minutes away, and five minutes after that, they embark on their ride, turning what they thought was a 45 minute wait into an actual 20 minute wait, meeting criteria 5.

When I first began as a legal clerk in a criminal law firm, I remember my then boss, John Colette telling me that he overheard me speaking with a client and that while I handled them very nicely, there was no way he could deliver on what I promised. Later, in my first year of practicing law, I encountered the same problem on a child support modification, where the client wanted to decrease his child support. I looked at the best case scenario and told him we could reduce his child support by $800.00 if we were successful. It felt great to offer that type of help, and it without a doubt encouraged him to hire the firm I was with at the time. The client was happy in the consult, but outraged when it was reduced by a mere $300.00. I hadn’t set my clients expectations. I wanted to please him and offer help and earn his business. Now realistically, I helped the client, he did get a reduction, but because his expectations weren’t set correctly, he didn’t see it as a win, and I’m certain that he has done his part to make sure all his friends know what a sub par job he thought I did. I decided then and there, a policy change was in order. Trying to please clients or for that matter anyone that ask’s us for help is a natural instinct for mankind. It however is only effective if done correctly.

After a trip to Disney, I decided to convert and implement the queueing strategy into my own law practice. From day one in our consultations we set the clients expectations for what would in our opinion be the worst possible outcome for the case. We make the outcome as realistic as we can, regardless of how unjust, blunt or undesirable that might be. In doing so, we are setting expectations for what we feel is the worst outcome for the case. I have found over time that rarely is the outcome of the case as dire as we relay it in our consultations. The result is that our clients are happy with the results, and as a unexpected but pleasant bi-product, we look like geniuses. Throughout the process, we send correspondence and links to “client only” pages on our website to let them know where they stand. This again helps eliminate some of the uncertainty and allows us to update or modify our opinion of the case. If we are creating a document, we invite clients into the office to view the creation of their pleadings on a 55inch computer monitor. By having our clients read and participate in the creation of pleadings, there is never a question as to the authenticity of an invoice, and our clients have a keen insight into the contents of their documents and the strategy and goals behind its creation. We give homework assignments in our “client only form” section. We know that clients are going to think about their case as much if not more than we will, so why not focus some of that energy and at the same time, assist us in preparing drafts of discovery information.  

We may tell you its an hour wait, but we are trying everything we can to get you there in five minutes. If we can, I’m certain you will be pleased with our representation, and if you must in fact wait an hour, you knew from day one it was a likelihood. By having updates and including you in the process, we make the wait time a little more tolerable.

We pride ourselves on giving you an honest opinion of your case and not trying to appease you in order to win your business. We are doing everything we can to make certain that your anxiety is lessened, that your time is occupied by helping our office, that we are working or processing your case as fast as we can, and that we are trying to get you a desirous or at least equitable result. Know that everything we do from our initial consults, to our private client phone lines and online guides or video blogs is designed to give you the most valuable asset we can offer, knowledge. Whether we are helping you with a bankruptcy or a divorce, I’m certain it won’t feel like a day at Disney, but at least you will know what to expect before the roller coaster begins.

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