Maximizing Law Firm’s Client Legal Marketing Program

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Legal marketing can be expensive that a significant portion of a firm’s budget is allocated to business development. Some firms fail to manage their attorney marketing programs efficiently so they get a lower conversion rate than they should. Emailed leads go unviewed, machines answer potential client calls, and firm profiles with marketing companies are not developed. A few simple management changes can result in more leads and a substantial improvement in retention rate and return on investment.

Basic strategies for maximizing results from law firm marketing programs include:

Answer the Phone: This may seem too obvious to list, but a surprising number of potential new client calls are answered by machines. A potential client who gets an answering machine usually hangs up and calls someone else. Based on the answering machine, that potential client may make a number of assumptions:

  • Firm cannot afford a full time receptionist
  • The lawyer may be difficult to reach when I need him
  • Firm may be small or limited in resources

None of these may be true, but the potential client has no reason not to try another firm.

Receptionist Properly Handle Calls: Most attorneys would be surprised how many times a receptionist gives the impression that a new client call is not important. The conversation below illustrates the problem.

Potential Client: May I speak with the attorney?
Receptionist: May I ask who is calling?
Potential Client: Smith Jones
Receptionist: Okay, hold on a moment. Let me see if he is available.
Pause
Receptionist: Can I ask what this is regarding?
Potential Client: My son was arrested and needs a lawyer.
Receptionist: Okay hold on please.
Pause
Receptionist: Sorry he is unavailable can I get your name and number so he can call you back.

The receptionist in this scenario makes a number of mistakes that will probably send the potential client to another firm.

  • The receptionist did not ask what the call was about immediately, creating the impression that the attorney is screens calls to see if they are important enough to answer.
  • After telling the receptionist that the call is a new case, the client is implicitly informed that even when the client represents potential new business, the attorney will not get on the phone. If new business does not get an attorney on the phone, what chance does the client have to get the attorney on the phone once a retainer check has changed hands?
  • The receptionist failed to make the potential client seem important by failing to ask for information about the case. Most legal marketing clients want to tell their story and be assured someone cares about the problem. Most potential clients don’t want to go to another firm where they have to tell the story again, so the receptionist needs to communicate a sense of urgency by assuring the attorney will call back as soon as possible, asking for the best number to call and for more detail about the case to brief the attorney.

This approach communicates to the client that the call is important, that the attorney wants to know about the case, and is anxious to help.

Prompt, Professional Email Correspondence: Increasingly, legal marketing firms are using email communication. Since timing is important with email correspondence, if the attorney is not able to review the case and respond immediately, a staff member should respond promptly that the attorney is in court (or whatever is appropriate) but staff is trying to reach the attorney by cell phone. The client should be asked to provide additional information. And the attorney should respond to the email as promptly as possible. If the client provides a phone number, the attorney should call as well as reply by email.

Email correspondence from the attorney and his staff to an attorney marketing lead also should be professional. A written product is a significant part of an attorney’s work, so an email that contains typos, bad grammar, or informal abbreviations creates a negative impression. The email need not be as polished as a document to be filed in court, but should be as polished and well written as a letter that the attorney would mail to a client.

Proper Set-Up of Voicemail Message Systems: Though voice mail is now widely used by law firms, as a general rule, a live person answering the phone will get better results with leads from marketing programs. Some firms now route all inbound calls to voicemail, which reduces the conversion of leads from marketing companies. The firm has paid a marketing program to provide leads, but many potential new clients will hang up when they do not get a live person or are frustrated by trying to navigate through the phone system.

Even when you are forced to use a voicemail message system, avoid different options for “new” and “existing” clients. This suggests to existing clients that their calls are less important. You can change the options to “existing client” or a “new client or existing client who needs immediate attention,” which communicates to a potential legal marketing client that existing clients with urgent issues receive the same priority as potential new clients.

Marketing Firm Profiles/Bios: Legal marketing firm frequently give law firms a broad range of options for developing the firm’s profile or bio on the marketing website. Despite the ability to add pictures, video, testimonials, and articles, many firms fail to provide anything more than the bare bones minimum. A properly developed firm profile often leads to a higher conversion rate and increased ROI.

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