How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Law Firm

Sean Lund-Brown

Every law firm needs a receptionist to field calls, meet clients as they come into the office, handle various administrative tasks, and so forth. Of course, the evolution of technology over time has completely changed the options available to businesses in this regard, as well as the factors that will go into selecting the right person for the job. You might think that your firm has things under control, or that you don’t need a professional for the role, but that’s exactly why you do need one—you can’t do it all. 

Think about all the calls and emails you get in a day. Consider the time it takes for you to respond to every single one, and how some of them could have been easily answered in a matter of seconds if someone had answered the phone or gotten the message right away. That’s why you need a receptionist. Today’s consumers demand instant answers, or as close to instant as they can get. 

In fact, the average consumer expects less than 24 hours of a response time from a business these days, and even less if they communicate via social media or a website chat feature. Having a dedicated receptionist (or team of them) will ensure that everyone’s calls, and messages are answered promptly and that you’re contacted for the conversations that require your professional expertise. 

Receptionists are designed to multitask and handle all kinds of communication and admin needs. It’s what they do. They can juggle a lot of tasks, and they will be able to help your law firm improve in several different ways when you add them to your roster. In this guide, we’ll talk about the cost of a receptionist, why you need one, and how to choose the right person for the job. That way, you’ll be leagues ahead of the competition when it comes down to the actual hiring or outsourcing of the receptionist solution that you choose. 


The real cost of hiring a receptionist

When it comes to the money, hiring a receptionist is a bit of an undertaking when it comes to an employee that’s on your payroll. The average receptionist in the U.S. earns between $10 and $14 per hour, and that’s not including the cost of onboarding (reports put the average in the U.S. at about $4,000 per employee that you hire and train). It can be expensive to hire a receptionist, and you haven’t even gotten a chance to look at industry-specific assistance-- the going rate for legal receptionists is a bit higher than general receptionists, garnering them $14-$18 per hour based on experience, services offered, and other factors. 

Fortunately, the expense is well worth it for some businesses. And for others, this is a chance to see where outsourcing might be the better choice. For a fraction of these costs, you can have someone that works full-time (or part-time if that’s all you need) to handle all of your communications and admin tasks. This is currently ranked as a less competitive job market, but as the demand for customer-facing roles continues to grow, it will probably become more competitive. 

That’s why you need to get on board now. A receptionist is an invaluable investment in your law firm. It’s giving you the chance to free up your time and give dedicated attention to your clients and visitors where they need it most. You’ll just need to take a look at the numbers and see what kind of investment is right for your law firm. 


What can a receptionist do for your law firm?

There are a lot of different perks that come with hiring a receptionist for your law firm. You can pick and choose the tasks that they handle, or you can just have them field anything that comes across the front lines: phone calls, emails, chats, postal mail, and so forth. They can even help streamline workflows and manage scheduling, and so much more. 

When you hire a receptionist, some of the tasks they can handle include:

  • Answering and routing phone calls
  • Responding to general questions and inquiries about legal services
  • Creating memos, reports, letters, and other correspondence and content as needed
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Maintaining the office, including equipment and supplies
  • Welcoming visitors to your firm (if they are in-house) and direct them to the right people
  • Coordinating contractors, vendors, clients, peers, and other parties to maintain solid relationships
  • Handling other admin or office-related tasks as needed


You might even choose a receptionist to manage your social media accounts or at least keep tabs on incoming messages—there’s almost no end to the ways that they can help improve your business. 

Of course, a legal receptionist generally will not be able to provide case-specific information or details regarding a certain client in many cases. They do not have the licenses and education necessary to be privy to the explicit legal elements of every case, but they can take care of a lot of other things while you’re managing the clients with case-specific questions and needs. 


In-house vs. outsourced receptionists

The biggest decision that comes after deciding that you do need a receptionist is whether you’ll hire one on the payroll or if you’ll outsource to a contractor or third-party service. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but there are pros and cons to each. Usually, for smaller law firms and those on tight budgets, outsourcing ends up offering more value for the money and a lower cost of service than putting someone on the payroll.

There are a few good questions and considerations to factor in here to help you figure out which way to go. Again, there’s no perfect formula or exact “right” answer, but these should guide you down the right path:

  • Can you afford to hire someone in-house? If you don’t have the budget for a full-time, or even part-time, receptionist, you might need to stick to outsourcing. Don’t forget it’s more than just their hourly pay, too—you have to factor in benefits, training and onboarding costs, and so forth. 
  • Do you need a full-time receptionist in your law firm every day? Some companies find that they don’t really need to have an in-house receptionist because they can get a lot more value from outsourcing so that receptionists are available as needed. 
  • What kind of services do you expect or need from your receptionist? You might want a solution that’s more than one person can offer, which is where partnering with a dynamic team of outsourced receptionists (like the agents at Smith.ai) can be a better choice. 
  • Do you want better talent with a lower price tag? Outsourcing makes it easier for you to get the best people for the job without breaking the bank. Plus, when your needs change, the people that you work with can change along with them. 


Although the answer will be different for everyone, these are some important things to ask when you’re looking at hiring a receptionist for your law firm. 

Qualities to look for when hiring a receptionist

Of course, hiring a receptionist is all about hiring someone who’s qualified to do the job. You can’t just ask the Internet how to find the “best” receptionist, because there’s a lot more to it than that. You have to think about what that word means to your law firm, specifically. What do you want in terms of a receptionist?

Think about soft skills like multitasking, time management, and communication skills, as well as delegation and self-motivation abilities. Most employees, quite frankly, should have these qualities if you ask us. Anyway, with receptionists, it’s all the more important. Especially in the communication department—that’s a majority of their job. 

It’s helpful to choose someone with experience, but that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker. If you find a quick learner with the right education and attitude, that could supersede formal training or experience. Ultimately, look for qualities like:

  • Self-starter, motivated, driven
  • Friendly, personable
  • Confident, eager to take charge
  • Problem solving skills and conflict resolution skills
  • Customer service and relationship building
  • Quick learner, easily adaptable to changes
  • Can work in a fast-paced environment
  • Can work independently and as part of a team


After you factor in these things, you can then focus on actual hard skills like phone etiquette, software abilities, technology experience and expertise, and so forth. Before we wrap up, let’s go over a few FAQs to refresh your mind and help you make the best decision when hiring a receptionist for your law firm. 


Receptionist hiring FAQs

For those who want more details about how to find the best receptionist before diving into their own search, we’ve covered several common Q&A below. There are a lot of different things to cover, and it can seem like a lot if you’re just starting out. Here’s a list of FAQs to get your own brain thinking about what you want from this role. 

When is the right time to hire a receptionist?

There is no “right” time to hire someone for your law firm. If you’re in the need of someone to field calls and chats, then it’s the right time to hire someone. If you find that you don’t have time to handle your website traffic or the people walking into your office, it could be a good idea to hire some assistance. And of course, if your phone is ringing off the hook and you can’t possibly find time to field every call, a receptionist could be a good investment. 

What should I list in a posting for a receptionist?

Hiring a receptionist is as individual as your law firm. However, you’ll want to list qualifications like previous experience, ability to multitask, self-starter, communication skills (written and verbal), and so forth. Essentially, tell them exactly what’s expected, ask them what they have to offer, and then provide information on how to reach out to you for those who want to apply. 

Do I need someone with legal experience or education?

This person’s duties start with answering the phone and greeting clients. That only requires they be personable and professional. If you find a legal secretary or receptionist team that has experience in the legal field, of course, you should take advantage of that. However, it’s not a necessity. You should focus on the admin skills and other areas of ability and consider legal expertise or previous law firm experience to be a bonus. 

Is it better to hire a remote receptionist?

There is no “best” way to go about acquiring the assistance that your business needs. However, a remote receptionist or team of receptionists will give you lower costs, more features for your money, and a chance to invest in a service that requires less management and stress on your part. You could hire someone in-house if you prefer, but with the communication tools available today, many companies are opting to go virtual. 

What’s the difference between a contractor and a service like Smith.ai?

This is another question we see a lot—the difference in all of the outsourcing options can seem intimidating at first. However, it’s really simple as long as you don’t get caught up in the semantics. Although some people use different terms, most people refer to services like ours as “virtual receptionists”, while independent contractors or freelancers are usually called freelance receptionists, etc. Ultimately, the only major difference is the services offered and the chance to get comprehensive solutions, which is generally easier with a larger firm on your side. 


Speaking of Smith.ai, let’s talk about how our receptionists can solve all of your communication problems, big and small

You’ll have a lot fewer decisions and a lot less worry when you just partner with the dedicated receptionists at Smith.ai. Our team of agents is available 24/7 to handle all kinds of client and visitor inquiries via phone, live chat, and other channels. We can also take on things like lead intake, scheduling, and payment collection, if you’d like.

Plus, we’ll bundle it all up into a perfectly scalable solution that fits the needs of your law firm and that comes with a surefire strategy to manage all of your communication and admin needs. Whether you just need some extra support or you need a full staff of agents, we’ve got you covered. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation and find out how the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can improve your law firm’s communications. You can also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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