There are many benefits to forging your own path in the legal world. Sole practitioners have greater control over their schedules, and can choose the cases that really matter to them, rather than having them delegated down. And, of course, solo lawyers are their own boss.
But as with everything else in life, there are unique complications that come with going out on your own. A law firm is a business, after all, and being a sole practitioner means you have to handle most if not all aspects of that business yourself.
Of those aspects, one which has a big impact on your productivity is answering the phone. When new clients come calling, how do you handle them? If you let them go to voicemail, you might not secure their business. And yet, if you answer the phone every time it rings, you’ll never get anything done. We’ve got a few tips on how solo lawyers should handle their client intake process below.
Step One: Hire A Great Receptionist
Hopefully most of the sole practitioners reading this have already realized that you simply don’t have time to answer every phone call. And yet, you don’t want to let callers go to voicemail; they might just hang up and call another attorney. Let us be the ones to break the news to you: you have to delegate phone answering. You should hire a good receptionist immediately.
By delegating your phone answering, you’ll free yourself from the responsibility of answering every call in hopes that the caller has business for you. A receptionist can screen your calls, taking a message if the call isn’t urgent. They can also transfer more important calls over to you so that you can give callers the attention they expect from a sole practitioner. That gives you more time to focus on the work only you can do, whether that work be legal or administrative.
A receptionist also helps you capture more leads. If you’re in court or already busy with another client, the last thing you want is for new leads to reach your voicemail. By having someone there to pick up the phone and let callers know when you’ll get back to them, you decrease the likelihood that new leads will keep dialing to find a different attorney.
Of course, you know your practice better than we do. If you don’t think you can afford salary and benefits for a receptionist, or don’t have the time to train someone up, you should hire a virtual receptionist. A virtual receptionist gets you the same benefits as an in-office receptionist, but allows you to hire someone already at the top of their game, saving you training time and money.
Step Two: Script Your Client Intake
The next step in your client intake process is to script it. A good client intake will make new leads feel they’ve already begun the process of hiring your firm. After sharing the details of their legal problems, new leads are less likely to move on to another firm. And when you follow up, they won’t have to repeat themselves.
By scripting your client intake process, you make this powerful tool available to you all the time. With a consistent client intake, you’ll be making sure you’re capturing as many leads as possible. If you’re already answering the phone yourself, or have in the past, then you know exactly what you need; if not, we recently published a guide to scripting legal intake you can check out here.
Step Three: Train Your Receptionist
Next, you have to train your receptionist and ensure they know the script well enough that the callers never realize they’re being read to. New leads want to feel heard, and may be turned away from your firm if they feel they aren’t getting a personal conversation. Your receptionist should be filling out information in a client intake form, asking questions to fill in gaps as the conversation progresses.
Training your receptionist is about more than just handing them the script. You should work with your receptionist, going over the script and answering any questions they may have. In addition, you should undertake some practice phone calls where you play the client. It will take time, but the payoff will be worth it, as you’ll find yourself securing more new clients.
Of course, if you’re hiring a virtual receptionist, that training is already taken care of for you. All you have to do is script your client intake process, and the virtual receptionists will use that script to secure leads and gather information for you. Virtual receptionists have a few advantages over in-office answering staff, as well; for example, many answering services are available 24/7, meaning you’ll never miss an important call from a would-be client.
Looking For The Best Virtual Receptionists? Hire Answering Legal
If you’re looking for the best answering service for your solo practice, look no further. Answering Legal’s virtual receptionists specialize in answering for lawyers, meaning they’re capable of handling your client intake exactly as you would like them to.
Our service is also very flexible. One of the things clients see in a solo practitioner is a personal touch. You might worry that a virtual receptionist would get in the way of that expectation, but with Answering Legal, you can have your cake and eat it too.
With custom call protocols, you can ensure that our virtual receptionists handle existing clients, while forwarding new client callers to your phone so you can keep that personal touch. If you’re not available, they’ll fill out a client intake form and take a message, making sure you get that information via text or email.
Skip the training and save on the salary. Hire Answering Legal to handle your phones, and we’ll take care of your client intake process for you. Click here or call 631-400-1111 to sign up for our free trial. For a limited time, we’re offering firms that sign up with our service their first 400 minutes free.