Building a legal practice from scratch is never simple. However, creating a client-focused practice with a limited budget can be particularly challenging. It’s critical to make informed decisions with the capital you have while reinforcing your commitment to client service and outstanding representation. Thankfully, you can do several things to help ease the financial strain while showing each client that they matter.
The first thing you must do is define your ideal client. This will hinge on a couple of things, including your area of focus (family law, criminal law, tax law, etc.) and your ideal client’s specific needs. Once you have an idea of who your ideal client is, you can create tailored marketing and messaging that speaks to them. That does a couple of things for you.
First, it helps you avoid casting too wide a net with your marketing efforts. Getting your message out to as many people as possible might seem like a great idea, but it’s expensive and not as effective as you might think. Second, it helps ensure that you’re spending money marketing to those people most likely to convert into clients (those you can actually help).
Your clients are the source of your (albeit limited) budget. Your fee agreement tells them what they can expect from you in terms of services in exchange for the fees charged. Be explicit here. Don’t leave anything to their imagination. It’s all about managing expectations. This is where you begin to differentiate yourself from other firms and the first encounter potential clients will have with your client-first policy.
Client intake is an essential part of running any legal practice. It’s also a challenge in a couple of ways. Every call, email, or online chat that you field takes you away from working on something more immediate (client work).
It’s not just the five or 10 minutes it takes you to reply to a query, either. Inc. points out that it takes 23 minutes to recover from a distraction at work, which means if you spend 10 minutes answering a lead’s questions, you’ve truly lost around 33 minutes of billable time and momentum.
Of course, you can’t sacrifice that intake process, either. That’s where your new clients come from and where potential clients who aren’t a good fit for your practice get weeded out. The answer is to automate it. That can save you time, money, and hassle while ensuring that potential clients are vetted and moved into your onboarding funnel.
Automated systems don’t always send the right signal. Automated phone menus don’t exactly scream “client-focused.” They’re impersonal and often go hand-in-hand with long hold times or the need to wait for someone to return a message, perhaps hours or even days later.
You can get around those issues with a service like Smith.ai. Our live virtual receptionists answer every call, ensuring that clients and potential clients speak with a real human rather than being forced to navigate an automated menu tree. Our receptionists can also answer questions, take client information, input it into your CRM, and even handle the entire intake process on your behalf. That frees your time to focus on serving your existing clients while saving money and eliminating hurdles potential clients must jump to get the representation they need.
The entire point of a client-focused legal practice is to give your clients the attention and service they deserve. They’re not an afterthought or a paycheck. They’re the reason you got into the legal field in the first place. You can communicate that by offering free consultations so that clients can feel out their options and better understand the possibilities without having to pay for the privilege.
How much time do you spend fielding phone calls and replying to emails? Chances are good that it takes up a significant percentage of your workday. And many of those communications may have little to no bearing on your practice. The good news is that you can let the professionals run interference here so that you can do what you do best.
Smith.ai’s live receptionists can answer phone calls, reply to emails, and much more. That includes handling outbound calls and even text messages to free your time to focus on representing your clients. We help ensure that you:
All client-first practices have a few things in common. These attorneys care deeply about the people they represent, and they go to great lengths to ensure that they’re able to deliver the best service and client experience possible. That can take many forms, from dealing with the loss of a loved one and navigating their last wishes to mitigating a small business’s tax liabilities and everything in between.
Operating such a practice on a limited budget requires understanding the tools and services available to you. Trying to assume too many roles within your practice limits your ability to serve your clients and, ultimately, costs you more than using the resources available.
Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists can help reduce the number of hats you’re forced to wear by acting as your office’s legal answering service, lead intake service, appointment scheduling service, and more. All that information is also logged into your CRM, making it searchable within seconds. We help you focus on what you do best and deliver an outstanding client experience without dropping the ball when it comes to communication, client billing, or anything else.