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Lawyers Working Remotely – Don’t Panic Over Missed Opportunities

Jessie Hoerman Mar 16, 2020
Lawyer working remotely

The Covid-19 pandemic is not the time for a law firm to panic over missed opportunities. As leaders in the community, lawyers have an obligation to take this time to care for those that depend on them – staff, family and the community at large.  

If you, as a lawyer, can move to a remote work situation without worrying  about missing opportunities, then read no further. If, however, you are like most lawyers who are searching for ways to provide a better client experience even when your business turns to remote working, then read on.

Client Opportunities Spike Outside Normal Business Hours – Will You Meet Expectations?

The fact is, even during “normal” times, potential legal clients look for assistance outside business hours. Law firms see spikes of inquiries in the evening, on weekends and after the holidays, when consumers have more time to consider their health and financial resources.  

In addition to increased inquiries, it is important that lawyers understand that the expectations of today’s legal consumers have changed over the past few years. Today’s legal consumer has grown accustomed to instant access to everyday products and services through platforms like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and more. As explained in detail in the 2019 Clio Legal Trends Report, legal consumers expect the same from lawyers. In fact, more than half of all potential legal clients will continue to “lawyer shop” after reaching out to your firm if your firm does not provide timely legal guidance.

The idea that millions of Americans will be home for weeks and potentially months is likely to correlate to a large number of legal inquiries at a time when most lawyers will be struggling to react. But, with a few adjustments, your law firm does not need to panic over trying to keep up.

Meet Potential Client Expectations – Remotely

Giving potential clients the best possible first impression of your law firm and early client experience can happen remotely thanks to advances in technology and the tools that utilize these advances.  

The Need for A Customer Relationship Management System

Many law firms have lived without a Client Relationship Management platform for years and will question the need to use one today. Law firms who don’t consider tools to organize and prioritize intakes while working remotely as well as utilize automation to convert the leads into cases are likely to lose client opportunities to law firms who have taken the time to create a client-centered intake process.

A good CRM should be the hub of your marketing efforts and serve as a real-time window into your future clients/revenue stream. It should also be client-facing, making sure that your firm gives potential clients a look into why your firm is their best choice from the very beginning.

Your CRM needs to centralize, organize and lead rank EVERY potential client opportunity from whatever source. A law firm that is able to centralize all of this data is able to properly allocate staff and marketing dollars in order to maximize efficiencies and return on investment.  

The best CRMs also need to include tools that make your law firm more client-centered which will give your law firm a competitive edge over law firms living under a more “traditional” legal model. When analyzing and comparing CRMs, it is important that you understand the difference between tools that are “included” versus “integrations”. For the purposes of a CRM, you can assume that an integration is an added fee and requires more set up time. This ultimately might work out great, but it lacks the simplicity needed to start working instantly during this pandemic.

The best CRMs have also considered the value of automation to today’s client experience. If your CRM has not integrated the automation of your legal criteria-decision making process resulting in instant guidance to potential clients from whatever source they may find you, move on. You have not found a CRM that can rise to the expectations of today’s legal consumer.

SimplyConvert is an integrated CRM that automates the client funnel from day one. SimplyConvert integrates live chat, chat forms, manual intakes, call centers and simplifies referrals to trusted legal referral partners. Law firms can start using SimplyConvert in its simplest form from day one, but it is flexible enough to be customized and grow as the needs of your firm grow.

Automating, organizing and lead ranking web leads

In an effort to make your firm easily accessible, lawyers turned their websites into an avalanche of calls to action. Most legal websites today contain a click to call, multiple forms of contact forms, “free case evaluation” buttons and either a live chat or chatbot all within a single web page. 

Two major problems have arisen around this call to action chaos. First of all, where do all of these outreaches go? Is there a single individual or email responsible for tracking, organizing and replying? Secondly, how does a law firm compare, prioritize and convert leads into clients when each outreach results in a different level of information gathered up front?   

Controlling the intake chaos will require a few steps  

If your law firm doesn’t have these calls to action centralized prior to working remote, this is the first place you need to make adjustments. If you don’t have a legal CRM set up, you need to at least consider how you can centralize all of your leads from whatever source. This source needs to be easily accessible to every necessary intake staff person and decision maker in your law firm.  Emails that use intake@ or info@ work well in this situation.  

Secondly, make sure that no matter where or how you are found, you are prepared to gather consistent criteria-based information so that you have the ability to sort, prioritize and lead rank each lead. You need to consider providing your criteria to intake staff, outside call centers, live chat or chat bots, paid advertising firms and contact forms.  

Third, empower your staff, virtual receptionists and chatbot to give instant legal guidance and a road map to potential clients so they don’t feel the need to reach out to additional lawyers. Unfortunately, live chat will not suffice in providing instant legal guidance, and it is the largest reason why dumping live chat should be a top priority for firms concerned about returns on marketing dollars.

What is the proper outcome for your qualified potential clients? Some firms will find that instant notification to a lawyer who can jump on a call is the right outcome. Others will want to trigger e-sign contracts automatically. Others will want to schedule a consultation instantly.

Whatever the proper outcome is for your legal practice, you must be prepared to offer it at the moment a qualified potential client is looking to hire you, or you are likely to lose the opportunity to lawyers who are meeting their expectations.

Integrate Phone Tracking

Tools like Call Rail and Call Tracking Metrics become very important when your team works remotely for several reasons. First of all, smart routing of phone calls can assure that the right staff or outside answering service is taking calls 24/7. Secondly, using call tracking numbers online and in print is key to understanding how to maximize your marketing dollars.

Call tracking tools can integrate with some CRMs, including SimplyConvert, so that every call is tracked from initial intake to client contract.

Automating, organizing and lead ranking phone responses

Receiving phone calls while your entire office is working remotely is challenging. It might be smart to have a daytime “skeleton crew” to handle phone calls, if you can do so while maintaining the health of your staff. If not, use of a call forwarding system or VOIP phone service can be set to push calls to the right staff person during business hours.  

But, even in “normal times,” virtual legal assistance for call overflow and after-hours calls is required to capture more than half of your potential clients at the moment they plan to hire a lawyer. 

To get this right, you need to consider two things – hiring a great 24/7 call center and, more importantly, providing them with the right tools to provide potential clients with instant legal guidance.  

When picking a 24/7 call center, make sure that you have one that can provide you with a dedicated team and will use a “script” or form containing your legal criteria. You will not be able to give an outside call center access to your CRM so you need to consider how you can give virtual legal assistance the tools they need to provide instant legal guidance on your behalf.  

SimplyConvert provides call centers with a secure URL (outside of your CRM) that enables virtual legal assistance access to your intake chat bot containing all of your legal case criteria. Your call center starts by logging in as a user so that you can track all of their actions for reporting and audit purposes. SimplyConvert provides you the tools to empower your virtual legal assistance to provide customized legal guidance instantly based on your customized criteria instantly.

Automating client outreach through a drip campaign via email and text

Only a fraction of the individuals that reach out to your law firm are ready to hire a lawyer at the moment they reach out to you.  Drip campaigns via text and email can play an important part in keeping your law firm in the front of the mind of a qualified potential client.

There is no substitute for a great conversation with someone from your law firm, but, thoughtful, customized emails and texts from your team should be part of building the best possible client experience that sets you apart from your competitors. Drip campaigns are even more important when you have staff working remotely.

SimplyConvert includes automated email and text campaigns that are fully customizable by your law firm. There is no need to integrate any platforms – our campaigns are ready to go on day one.

Auditing Staff and External Assistants

One of the trickiest things lawyers encounter when allowing staff to work remotely is the ability to track and audit potential client outreach. Although you trust your staff, if you don’t have a tool that tracks all communication with potential clients, it is likely your firm will miss opportunities, overlap outreach and make mistakes with potential clients.

User-based CRM’s like SimplyConvert track and streamline all communications, actions and changes made in a client record. SimplyConvert believes that the best tools are ones used by all staff, for this reason, SimplyConvert does not charge by user and we encourage your entire team to be a part of the client experience.

Integration with Your Practice Management System

Once a potential client becomes a client, the real legal work begins, and the legal practice management system takes over. The best CRM needs to streamline the transition from marketing to client work by integrating with your practice management system.

Flexibility – The Future of Your Practice

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty. But, it doesn’t have to mean stress on your practice. We are fortunate to live in a time when you can continue to have a thriving legal practice even while your entire staff works remotely.

Taking the time today to consider how your firm can take advantage of advances in technology to streamline your practice also assures that you have the flexibility to spend more time doing the things you love in the future.

Tools like Zoom, Slack and SimplyConvert make sure that your entire practice stays connected and will not miss opportunities in the future.