Considerations for your Intake

While some individuals will be awaiting your office’s call, others might be slightly thrown off seeing “Law office” on their cell phone at 9:30 AM on a Monday morning. With robo-dials, spam text messages and emails at an all time high, there is a considerable amount of distrust from consumers when it comes to telephonic communication.

It can be hard to get someone to give you 20-30 minutes of their time for an evaluation, but intake is the lifeblood of any consumer law firm. All law firms need to know how to effectively introduce themselves in order to make sure that the steady flow of case leads your office receives are turned in to fee producing cases. Here are scenarios your firm will most likely face and some ideas for how to handle these different kinds of intake.

Request for Contact:

Many law firms in the 21st century receive an electronic communication requesting an evaluation on a legal case. These can come in the form of contact form submissions via your website, a lead generation form that was forwarded to your office, bar association referrals, and other similar platforms. The industry best practice is to follow up with these submissions right away in order to ensure that you contact this person while he or she is most interested in a legal consult.

While immediate contact can be established 24/7, 365 days of the year for large firms, other smaller operations might not get to every request immediately. Regardless of when you contact a new lead, there are things you can do to make sure the first contact goes smoothly:

  • Ask for permission – When you first contact claimants, you likely do not know what they are doing when you decide to call. Asking your potential clients if they have 5-10 minutes available to talk will make sure your call gets off on the right foot.
  • Reference Their Information/Request – Consumers get calls to their cell phones soliciting cruises, timeshares and many other offers. It is vital to establish that you’re calling a claimant due to a request that your office received from the consumer. This usually sounds something like, “we received your contact information via XYZ, specifically pertaining to your recent XYZ legal matter.”
  • Agree Upon a Time to Talk Again – Your intake process might be quite arduous depending on the type of law that you practice or how your law firm is set up. Therefore, if your intake staff is not able to get the full picture of someone’s situation on the first call, it’s vitally important that you ask the intake for an agreed upon time to continue your conversation. With life’s many responsibilities, it can be easy for a consumer to push off commitments that aren’t set in stone.
  • One important note about online leads (whether third party or from your website) is that while there are ways to ensure that you keep a high number of web leads coming in to your office, you’ll also need a way to quickly and efficiently funnel potentially viable cases up your chain of command towards someone who decides to accept or reject the case.

    While this process will look different from firm to firm, a general piece of advice would be to establish some basic questions that your intake staff can ask a web lead to immediately see if they would be a fit for your firm or not. For instance, if you run a Social Security firm and you only accept cases at the Hearing level, you would not want your intake staff spending inordinate amounts of time speaking with someone who has yet to file. In this instance, the member of your office doing the initial phone call should inquire if the individual’s claim has been denied already.

    Referral

    Referrals are a great way for law firms to get new clients. One of the biggest upsides to referrals is that they are usually somewhat qualified (i.e. more likely to be a case you want to pursue.) If another attorney refers you a case, the referring attorney hopefully believes that it’s a case you would want to take. If a referral comes from a doctor’s office or similar institution, the referring party likely already established that this person would benefit from the help of an attorney. With referrals, it’s safe to assume that there will be a lot less sifting through unqualified prospects.

    A cautionary note here: according to American Bar Association Rule 7.3 Solicitation of Clients, an attorney is not allowed to contact a referral that is given by another professional. Due to this rule, you have to wait for the referral to contact you.

    When that contact comes, you’ll want to make sure that you reassert your connection to the referring party and explain what’s going on so that everyone’s on the same page. This will sound something like:

    “Atticus Finch referred you to us at XYZ Law Firm. We’ve worked with Mr. Finch for a number of years and we refer clients to one another on occasion. If you’re open to this, it would be great to set up a time where we could go over your situation to see if I can be of any help.”

    Because referrals come with professional credibility behind them, it’s important to make sure that your first impression is a positive one, or else you run the risk of having your bad first impression reflect poorly on the referring party.

    Commercial Leads

    Some law firms, particularly firms that handle a wide variety of plaintiff law cases, choose to run commercials to attract new claimants to their office. If you can keep your costs manageable, T.V. can be a viable way to keep your firm busy.

    Due to the brevity of most commercial spots (call it, 30-60 seconds), most claimants who phone your office are less likely to be confused as to why they contacted your firm. Commercials that flash words like “xarelto lawsuit” or “talcum powder lawsuit” across the T.V. screen will likely attract callers who have experienced problems with these products, which would be desirable for firms that look to garner class action lawsuit claims.

    While the interest level of claimants who call your firm after seeing a T.V. commercial is considered “high,” the merits of their cases are still up to further scrutiny.

    Looking at the recently successful lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson, ovarian cancer was cited as the harmful outcome of continuous usage of talcum powder. Keeping this in mind, a law firm interested in acquiring more talcum powder cases would want to sort out what side effects a caller had experienced after usage, if any. Assuming that your intake staff understands what constitutes a side effect of talcum powder verse an unlucky skin reaction, your intake staff can then move to set up another appointment with an attorney who can further qualify the case.

    The main takeaway here is that your intake process, when set up around inbound calls via T.V. advertisements, should move quickly because your caller has already taken steps to hire your law firm.

    Evaluating Your Own Intake Process

    Setting up an effective intake process is a complicated task that every firm must invest considerable time, thought, and money in to. Even the most robust marketing campaign will fall flat without a regimented process for how to deal with inquiries made to your office. Think about calls coming in, but you’re losing potential customers due to off-putting, or ineffective staff.

    It can be challenging for law firms to develop an effective marketing strategy while also spending time establishing or rebuffing their intake process. While internal marketing initiatives should always be explored, lead generation services, marketing companies, and other third party options should also be considered. Working with a lead generation company can instantly enable firms to tap in to a national advertising effort, the benefits of which can be customized to fit your offices preferences.

    If you’re interested in keeping your law firm busy around the holiday season, but don’t want to overextend yourself with long-term contracts or minimum purchase amounts, today is the perfect time to reach out (617.800.0089) to our team at eGenerationMarketing.