Client Intake: An Easy Way to Boost Law Firm Business

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on February 01, 2016 2:59 PM

Thanks to the folks over at the ABA, we now have a broader view of the disaster that is law firm intake. The ABA's findings seem to only confirm the observations of FindLaw's earlier white-paper: Law firms stink at intake.

What does this mean? At the very least, you can stand to keep the business that's already contacting you. Now doesn't that just sound like good business practice?

ABA's (Shocking) Findings

The ABA's Law Practice Divisions' Social Media, Legal Blogs and Websites Committee took decided to explore the status of intake processes around the country and found some firm practices that you might find eye opening. To do this, they had people from the Committee pose as potential clients and call thousands of firms around the country. This is what they found.

  • Less that 10 percent of potential clients actually ever spoke to a lawyer.
  • About 40 percent of the time, firms took 3+ days to respond to a voicemail or form fill from a potential client, on average.
  • About 3 percent of caller gave up before the call was answered; and 11 percent of calls lasted less than 10 seconds.

How to Improve on the Bad

Fortunately, the numbers are universally bad. Fortunate for you, that is. Here are some things your firm can do that should immediately improve how clients perceive you and the service you provide.

  • Drop the standard greeting, 'Law Offices': It's pretty common for receptionists and legal assistants to greet each call with a chirpy "Law Offices," but this has drawbacks. It does not distinguish your firm from other firms. Your firm is a brand. Instruct your remote assistants to say your firm name upon picking up the phone. Make it a habit.
  • Build Rapport: When someone is calling a law office, they're most likely not in their most stable frame of mind. They need emotional support. One of the most effective ways of building trust is repeating someone's name during conversation. But in order to do that, you need to get their name first. Try the very polite, "Can I get your name and information?"
  • Get Contact Info -- NOW: Once you've established your firm brand, get the potential client's contact information ASAP. Frighteningly, a very high percentage of phone calls failed to even collect this basic data. A potential client without a name and number is basically just a waste of time. This one is particularly egregious considering that many attorneys don't bother calling back potential business even if they have their number!

This list actually can go on and on, and the ABA has promised more to come. Stay tuned for future updates on how to (inexpensively) improve your business.

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