How to Create Content That Drives Business to Your Law Firm

You're Not the Hero of the Story: How to Create Content That Drives Business to Your Law Firm

Back Office Betties CEO, Emily LaRusch, recently spoke with John Hinson to take a look at content creation from a whole new perspective. John Hinson is an Administrative Director and Marketing Manager at Spotlight Branding, a content marketing company that helps law firms stand out with results-driven marketing.

John shared valuable information on the shortcomings of SEO-focused marketing and how creating quality content is what drives business to your law firm.

 

SEO Focused Marketing Fails to Produce Results

Does this sound familiar? Many law firms hire marketing companies that focus heavily on SEO. These companies often promise high returns and guarantee that you’ll see yourself on the 1st page of Google, but continuously fall short. Leaving firms to move on to the next company with the same promises and tactics, hoping for a different outcome.

After search engines became prominent over the last decade, marketing companies seemingly shifted their focus over to SEO. But SEO keywords simply aren’t the only thing that matters.

Quality Content Sets Your Firm Apart

Content is the 1st way that potential clients engage with your law firm. When searching for an attorney online, the content that’s on your website and social media is THE factor that will set you apart from other law firms.

Content is also the best way to keep potential clients who aren’t ready to buy in your funnel and bring them closer to making a hiring decision. Consider having your receptionist direct callers to content on your website or to a lead magnet that they can download.

Your Client Is the Hero of Their Own Story

Many attorneys will focus on how great of an attorney they are and boast their case results and personal achievements. While potential clients want to know who their attorney is and the qualifications that set them apart, they need to be the hero of their own story.

Self-promotion has value, but can turn potential clients away if it’s all that you’re offering. Recognize your client as the hero and yourself as their guide.

You Can’t Market to Your Ideal Client if You Don’t Know Who They Are

If everyone is your audience, then everyone is your competition. Minimize the number of case types you accept and take the time to identify your ideal client.

Paint the picture and tell their story: Identify with your hero (potential client) and walk them through how they are going to get from point A to point B. Help them to get over the fears that they’re coming to you with.

SEO Terms Appear Naturally in Quality Content

It’s obvious when content is written for the sole purpose of SEO. You’ll find the same terms repeated over and over and it won’t sound natural. Even someone who knows nothing about SEO or marketing will be put off by the uncomfortable way it reads.

But SEO keywords will be present naturally in quality content that’s related to what your clients are searching for.

That means creating good content is as simple as answering the questions your potential clients have, identifying with their emotional state, and recognizing their concerns. You already know the information your potential clients are looking for from past conversations. Think about their most common concerns and fears.

Quality, evergreen content highlights you as the expert and clear choice.

 

Want to learn more about creating content that drives business to your law firm?
Listen to the full interview with John Hinson on the Solo de Facto podcast here.

Is Your Law Firm Missing These 5 Pieces of the A/R Puzzle?

5 pieces of the AR puzzle by Back Office Betties

Our CEO, Emily LaRusch, sat down with Brooke Lively, Founder of Cathedral Capital, to discuss the pieces that many attorneys are missing when it comes to the A/R puzzle, and exactly what you need to do to ensure your law firm stays profitable.

Brooke compares building and running a solo or small law firm to climbing a mountain: It’s fun, exciting, beautiful, but it can also be dangerous, scary, and lonely. That’s where she comes in, to be the “Financial Sherpa” for attorneys who need a guide to get them to the revenue goals they’ve set.

Financials come easy to Brooke, just as practicing law comes easy to you. What isn’t easy is running the parts of your firm that aren’t in your zone of genius, and also placing value on the things that do come easy to you. When you bring in a CFO, whether fractional or full-time, they can really take a look at where your money is going, how much is coming in, whether you’ve placed enough value on the services you offer, and also ask questions like “How can this make us more money?”

Brooke’s 5 Pieces of the A/R Puzzle: What Many Attorneys are Missing

  1. Retainer
  2. Evergreen Retainer
  3. Stop-Work Policy
  4. Automate Payment
  5. Fee Agreement

Don’t Start Work Without a Retainer

The first piece of the A/R puzzle is to put a stop to the collections chase and implement a retainer equal to the first 3 months of work at the start of your client relationship. There’s no profitability when you’re afraid to collect payment, so avoid any future conflicts by getting that payment up front.

Implement an Evergreen Retainer

What happens when that initial retainer runs out? An evergreen retainer ensures that you’re always a step ahead and collecting payment before spending any of your time on client work. Your evergreen retainer should average about 3 months of work (this may be less than your initial retainer).

Create a Stop-Work Policy

So what happens when someone doesn’t pay? You’re trying to avoid the fight of collecting on the back end, so you need a policy in place to protect you. If the retainer isn’t paid on time, you immediately stop all work on that case. Brooke mentions a “red rubber band policy” at one firm where cases with late payments are immediately wrapped in a red rubber band that tells you (and everyone else in the firm) that this case should not be opened. In a modern law firm, you can even set up document locks to prevent oversight and protect your time.

Take Payment Out of the Clients’ Hands

When you take out the middle man (in this case, your client) it’s much easier to avoid forgotten payments, human error, missed emails and notices, etc. Have your clients sign a Credit Card Authorization to ensure that your invoices don’t spend time sitting on a desk or wind up forgotten in the trash. You’ll receive prompt payment and your clients won’t wonder why you’ve stopped working on their case – a win win!

Have a Clear Fee Agreement

Fee agreements protect all parties, but what it really comes down to is protecting your firm. Have a clear fee agreement that lays out your fees, when they’re due, and what happens if they aren’t paid. Your clients will appreciate clear communication and no surprise charges and you will appreciate being paid for your time and expertise!

 

Interested to hear more from Brooke Lively about law firm financials? Listen to her full interview on the Solo de Facto podcast here.

Avoid Making These Top 3 Mistakes When Hiring Your Law Firm’s Receptionist

Hiring a new receptionist for your law firm can be a daunting task. You need to determine the right kind of receptionist for your firm, your budget to hire, the volume of phone calls you need covered, and many more factors in order to know you’re hiring the best fit.

As with any daunting task, shortcuts are often taken and mistakes are made when many attorneys hire their first receptionist (or second, or third!).

You don’t need to make the same mistakes! We’ve compiled the top mistakes made by attorneys looking for phone coverage and are going to walk you through exactly how to avoid each one.

Three Mistakes To Avoid Making When Hiring A Receptionist

Hiring your next receptionist can take a lot off your plate and help you maximize your billable time. But what should you avoid doing in the process?

Not Doing Enough Research

This first mistake comes down to many attorneys being unaware that there is even anything to research. All answering services are the same, right? Wrong. Just as you would interview an in-house receptionist, you’ll need to interview answering services or virtual receptionists. Your friend who owns a chiropractic practice might have an answering service they swear by, but your law firm’s needs are going to be much different. It’s important to determine exactly what you are looking for in your receptionist before signing on with the first one you hear about.

A few questions to consider:

  • Do they allow you to customize your greeting and intake questions?
  • Do they schedule appointments and sell consults, or do they simply take messages and you will need to call your leads back later to schedule?
  • What are their hours?
  • Do they have a plan that works for your call volume?

 

Hiring In-House Without The Volume To Support It

The next mistake is hiring an in-house receptionist without evaluating the cost, time spent managing this team member, and the true call volume you’re experiencing. Often times, an in-house receptionist becomes a much greater expense than expected because you don’t have the call volume and new clients rolling in to support it. Not to mention that calls are still missed during restroom breaks and paid vacation time – now you’re spending your valuable time backing up this person you are paying so much for.

 

Letting Budget Rule Your Decision

The third mistake to avoid when hiring a receptionist for your law firm is making your choice solely based on the cost of it. To be frank, this mistake can actually end up costing you more money in the end. When it comes to client experience and selling your firm to new clients, your receptionist is the most important factor. You need to have a well-spoken and knowledgeable person on the phone that can answer questions and explain the true value of what your firm provides in order to land new clients. When you go with a budget option – a cheap message-only answering service or your cousin’s best friend’s daughter at minimum wage – you’re only hurting your growth.

 

Have You Made Any Of These Mistakes?

It’s never too late to master your law firm’s phones. If you’ve made these mistakes in the past but want to get your law firm’s phones on track again, register for our upcoming webinar: 30 Minutes To Mastering Your Law Firm’s Phones: Sell more consults, impress your callers, and capture every lead.

Elena, our Growth Solutions Strategist, will be going deeper on how to avoid making these mistakes and how to master your phones – once and for all!

How To Evaluate Your Law Firm’s Phone Performance

 

Law firms live and die by the phones. Unfortunately many of them haven’t quite figured them out.

We called more than 100 firms (one could have been yours!) and only 14.75% of law firms passed our phone process audit. Less than 15% of law firms!

Roughly half of them didn’t answer the phone at all.

Many of the law firms that did answer did so with a generic (forgettable) greeting of “Law Office.”

And more than a handful answered with, “Hello?”

Can you imagine? We thought getting one Hello was bad, but multiple?!

With that said, there are quite a few things not to do when you answer the phone.

Is your law firm committing these phone sins, or would you pass our phone process audit? Let’s find out!

Evaluating Your Law Firm’s Phone Performance

 

Before you can improve upon your law firm’s phone processes, you first need to know what needs improvement.

 

Is your phone being answered every single time it rings?

 

If your phone isn’t being answered every single time, you’ve already failed the call audit. Missing potential new client calls is essentially writing your own ticket to the land of lost opportunity because the odds of them leaving a message are slim. Less-than-20% slim. You know those firms we said we called that didn’t answer? Yeah, we didn’t leave a message.

 

Who is answering the phone?

 

Is it you? If so, we urge you to change that asap.

First, because you’re busy and we know that translates into missing some calls. (No shame! You cannot possibly do it all.)

Second, because answering the phone doesn’t make you money. It’s not billable and it doesn’t require an attorney to get it done. Your time is worth so much more!

Third, because getting stuck on an impromptu consultation leaves you with no time to prepare! You’re actually helping your potential clients more by putting someone between you to schedule a consultation that you can prepare for.

 

What is the greeting used to answer the phone?

 

As mentioned before, a lot of firms flounder their first impression with a poor greeting. “Hello?” is unprofessional and leaves the caller wondering if they called the right number. “Law Office” is used so often that, while it makes it clear the caller reached a law firm, the caller may be confused as to which firm it was that they just called. Additionally, both of those options are less than friendly and can start the call off on a rocky foot.

Our favorite greetings always state the name of the firm, are spoken in a friendly tone, and start the call off with a positive impression.

Looking for something new to try out? Try a greeting like “Thanks for calling My Law Firm, Lisa speaking. How may I assist you?”

 

What information is being captured on every call?

 

Without a standard process of collecting the same information every time, you’ll probably notice a lot of leads falling through the cracks. It can be easy to forget to ask for their contact information in the moment, but if the same questions are asked on every call, it becomes easier to gather that information for every caller.

At the minimum, we recommend collecting: Name, Phone Number, Case Type/Matter, and Email. This information is important for following up with leads (who probably won’t call you back) and for tracking data in your CRM.

 

Would Your Firm’s Phones Pass The Audit?

 

If you aren’t sure, register for our upcoming webinar: 30 Minutes To Mastering Your Law Firm’s Phones: Sell More Consults, Impress Your Callers, & Capture Every Lead.

Elena, our Growth Solutions Strategist, will be going deeper on what to do after you’ve evaluated your phones and how to master them – once and for all!

“What Is A Virtual Receptionist?” And Other Frequently Asked Questions

What is a virtual receptionist? And other FAQs answered

If you’ve attempted Googling “What is a virtual receptionist?” at least once, this blog post is for you.

We’re sitting down and addressing some of the most Frequently Asked Questions regarding virtual receptionist services, what makes Back Office Betties different, and why your law firm might benefit from outsourcing your phone processes.

Okay, so what is a virtual receptionist?

Virtual Receptionist Service ≠ Answering Service

If you’ve asked anyone to explain exactly what a virtual receptionist service is before, they might have included the phrase “answering service” as a way to help you relate the answer to something you’re more familiar with.

But honestly, virtual receptionists are much more closely related to your in-house receptionist than they are an answering service, for one simple reason: Quality.

When you hear the phrase “answering service,” you probably let out an internal groan. Call centers with loud background noises, poor customer service, and limited capabilities might come to mind.

The same shouldn’t be true when you think of a virtual receptionist service.

Virtual Receptionists Prioritize Customer Service & Have More Capabilities Than An Answering Service

Your standard answering service typically answers the phone, takes a message, and moves on to the next caller. Occasionally it is a little more in-depth than that, but that’s the pretty standard practice.

A virtual receptionist service will use a custom greeting, capture all caller information, schedule appointments, answer frequently asked questions, accept payments, transfer calls to the client as needed, make outbound calls, and so much more.

Typically, the only thing your virtual receptionist can’t do that an in-house receptionist could is open the front door.

 

How Is Back Office Betties Different From Other Virtual Receptionist Services?

The short answer is: We specialize in serving solo attorneys and small law firms and we offer complete customization to fit each firm’s needs.

Okay, so what does that mean?

Many services have a pretty cut and dry approach to the way they handle all calls for every industry. Additionally, most virtual receptionist services will serve multiple industries, as opposed to focusing on a narrow niche. Sometimes this can amount to a less-than-personal experience for callers. It also leaves less room for expertise in any one industry. For example, a service that serves many industries may not be able to answer specific plumbing, construction, or, most importantly, legal-related questions because they’re not experts in any single industry.

Instead, Betties focuses solely on the legal industry so as to provide callers with answers to frequently asked questions, provide law firms with team members who are knowledgeable of the legal process, and a perfected call process that works best for the legal industry.

This leads to a better caller experience, a better experience for attorneys & their teams, and a better call experience for the receptionists. When everyone is happy, it’s a whole lot easier to sell consults and grow a law firm – who knew?!

Will A Virtual Receptionist Service Benefit My Law Firm?

If you find the right fit, a virtual receptionist service can absolutely benefit your law firm! Whether you need full-time phone coverage or simply backup vacation care, it can never hurt to have a professional ensuring that your callers never make it into your voicemail.

The keywords there are “the right fit,” as the wrong virtual receptionist service can end up costing you more time and money than you would like. Be sure to determine what is most important to you in hiring a service, whether it be cost, quality, speed of answering, customization of your call handling, or something else.

How Do You Get Started With A Virtual Receptionist Service?

Getting started with a virtual receptionist service is typically pretty straightforward. Some services will offer a free trial, others offer money-back guarantees. At Back Office Betties, we give you 30 days to decide if our service is the right fit for your law firm. If not, no problem! We’ll provide you with a full refund of your first invoice right then and there.

No matter the service you choose to work with, you’ll need to answer some basic questions about your firm. These typically will cover basics like your team and their names, contact information for call transfers, and can dive as deep as FAQs, call preferences, and intake questions to ask.

To determine the specific needs of your law firm, schedule a call today with our Growth Solutions Strategist.

Gifting as a Law Firm Marketing Strategy

This Is Why Gifting Might Not Be Working for You (And How to Do it Right)There’s a lot of talk about the psychology of gifting and how much of an impact it has on business relationships. But not just anything will do.

If you’re considering using gifting as a law firm marketing strategy, put on your business glasses and take a look through those lenses. You’ll need to optimize your gifts to make the best use of your money for the best return on investment.

 

Here are some things to consider:

If Your Logo Is On It, It’s Not a Gift

Attorneys Drinking Coffee

Gifts should never be billboards with bows on them. It might seem counterintuitive when looking at gifting from a marketing strategy point of view, but handing someone an ad for your business… that’s not a gift.

Logos have a time and place: promotional items. Promo items are all about you. Gifts are all about the recipient. So unless the recipient is you… don’t put your logo on it.

That being said, if you really want to, there are times when it might be appropriate to throw some swag in on the side. In those cases there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The main gift should have a significantly higher value. Branded items should never be seen as if they were considered a part of the gift.
  • Use consumable items. Think notepads and pens. There is absolutely no person alive who wants a cutting board or pop socket (embarrassing) with your law firm’s name on it. This is true for all businesses, but 10x more so for law firms. (Your client doesn’t want to remember their divorce forever.)
  • Never throw branded items in with gifts given for more personal reasons. Example: Your favorite client’s birthday.

 

Gift Cards Are a Bad Idea

Gift cards from Attorneys

(In almost all cases.)

Gift cards are so easy. They require minimal effort and time. And you’re busy! You might need some convincing on this one, so here it goes:

  • They’re impersonal. The benefits of requiring minimal effort and time are also the downfalls.
  • They aren’t gifts. Gift cards essentially give the recipient permission to go out and get themselves their own gift.
  • They aren’t memorable. If you give someone who loves Starbucks a Starbucks gift card… the sentiment is there. But nothing about going to Starbucks is going to be memorable to someone who goes to Starbucks every day.
  • They aren’t always used. Check your wallet. Do you have a gift card in there you’ve forgotten? Maybe a half-used one? It’s so easy to slip a card in your wallet in the middle of a busy day and forget it’s there until you stumble upon it while searching for something else. At least maybe then they’d think about you again. (ha-ha)

 

Find Gift Ideas for Every Budget & Every Client

Attorney Budget

Considering the ethics of gifting as an attorney, it’s a good idea to draw up a policy for your firm to avoid complications.

Variation is necessary. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recycle gift ideas (you should), but it does mean you should make choices based on individuals.

You have an edge here as an attorney. Working with your clients – often on very personal matters – you get a good idea of their lifestyle. Take advantage of this for your law firm marketing strategy.

Pay attention to their habits. If you have a client with a million notes for you every time you talk… a notebook would be a nice gift for them. A higher-end option would be something like reMarkable, a paper tablet. You know they’ll use it because you see them going through notebooks before your eyes.

In general, friendly conversation is your best bet for determining the ideal gift for most clients. (A little Facebook “research” couldn’t hurt either.)

 

Handle High-Quality Items Carefully to Avoid Mishaps

Attorney on the Phone

Remember: If you’re working with a chef, giving them a set of knives isn’t the best idea. They are almost certain to already have a better set of knives. Something like a personalized cutting board or serving tray is less likely to be outshined. Someone who’s just getting into cooking however… different story.

You want to impress clients with quality. But you don’t want to purchase mid to high-end items that they likely already have or have a better version of.

Another example: if you have a Rolex, you’re not likely to regularly set it aside for a lesser value watch just to mix it up. When it comes to items like these, if you can’t afford to give the best of the best (like most of us) or the value is too high for that case, just pick something else.

Don’t Be Basic on a Low Budget

Low Budget Gifts

Determine the % of the income from your client’s case you’re going to spend. Bigger cases should get more expensive gifts, but important clients with smaller cases can warrant going a bit over that %.

For the low-budget options, choosing something less mainstream is a solid choice.

An example: Maybe you want to give candles to your clients. You know they’re stressed and you’ve thought about them and how they’re feeling. Okay, great. Don’t buy a big name-brand candle. Consider finding something different from a local store in your area or a small handmade shop online.

Personalized Gifts Have the Biggest Impact

Gifting as a Law Firm Marketing Strategy

Personalized gifts are a great law firm marketing strategy. They show your clients that you went out of your way to get this gift for them. It’s not just something you have stacked in the back of your office to hand out. Your clients are sure to be excited when they see it.

How to personalize? Names are a safe bet. But it doesn’t have to be their name.

Do they have a family? Did they come to you to win custody of their kids? Consider water bottles or notebooks for school with their kid’s names on them. Are they an entrepreneur? Customize their gift with their brand’s logo.

Here’s what to keep in mind for personalized gifts:

  • Choose long-lasting items. Think glassware, cutting or cheese boards, picture frames, desktop infinity calendars, etc. You want your client to think of you every time they use that item. Gifts that last a long time have the best value.
  • Use quality customization. Etching, embossing, engraving, etc.
  • Make sure the item is something your client or their family will actually use. (What good is a gorgeous engraved cheeseboard that doesn’t leave the cupboard?)

 

There are plenty of customization companies to choose from. Everything Etched, for example, has a stellar reputation and a variety of products in different price ranges that are sure to impress.

 

Business to Business Gifting Is an Excellent Marketing Opportunity

Law Firm Marketing Strategy

Business to Business gifts can be tricky but garner high rewards. The best options will vary from company to company based on policies and cases.

The biggest advantage of gifting to businesses: More than one entity can be impressed with just one gesture.

Having multiple employees thinking highly of you keeps your name circulating. Not to mention, employees leave companies, start their own, get promoted to different branches, etc. That means that the next time they, their company, or their friends and family need an attorney… your name will be remembered.

  • Sometimes it will only be appropriate to gift your main contact throughout the case. Giving a gift to their assistant or receptionist who you’ve also communicated with is a fitting option in that situation.
  • In other cases, there will be multiple staff members you can gift. In those situations, customizing items with their company’s logo always impresses.

 

 . . .

To Wrap Up

(No pun intended)

Using gifting as a law firm marketing strategy isn’t as complicated once you know the best practices. Looking at it from a numbers and strategic viewpoint is crucial to see a return on investment. But that doesn’t mean that the human and empathetic factors need to be removed. At the end of the day, you’re considering your clients and what would make them happy during a stressful time.

Gifting is also a powerful customer service recovery tool.

 

Want some more ideas on how you can improve your law firm’s operations? Schedule a call with our Growth Solutions Strategist today.

 

 

Stop the Billable Hour Insanity

How Flat Fee Pricing for Attorneys Could Solve Your Problems

Are flat fee pricing models the future?

 

The most common pricing model among attorneys is charging by the hour.

This traditional method works well for many. However, people are starting to look for something different. And some law firms are there to give it to them.

As the ever-evolving market moves away from tradition, more and more attorneys are reconsidering their pricing model.

One of the most popular of those pricing models? Flat fees.

A flat fee is a predetermined, total fee that is paid upfront before work is started.

 

But is it right for your firm?

Pricing Model Considerations

Law Firm Administrative Work

Consider the following when looking at pricing models for your firm:

  • The experience for your clients
  • How your time will be spent
  • The effect on your sales and marketing

Your law firm is a business. Bringing in the most profit possible is a top priority.

But there are plenty of factors that play into that goal. No two law firms are the same. You need to know your clients, how you work best, the lifestyle you want, and the competition your firm faces.

Start by taking a look at the complications hitting your law firm the hardest. Then determine if a flat fee pricing model can solve them.

 

Charging by the Hour Can Be Suffocating

Attorney Cost

Constantly managing your life by the hour, to the fraction of the hour, is all-consuming. You’re always thinking about your work. How long did you spend on that case? And the other? Did you record it accurately?

If you didn’t, you could face the risk of legal malpractice for not keeping those records to the T.

Of course, you still need to keep track of your work with flat-rate pricing, but it doesn’t carry that same level of risk.

 

You’re In Control With Flat Fee Pricing

Attorneys

Flat fee pricing allows you to take control of your time. Work on cases the way you think is best.

Everyone has different work methods that suit them. This billing model gives you the opportunity to take advantage of that.

How flat fees give you control:

  • You won’t be constrained by time tracking
  • Your clients will pay upfront (No need to chase them down)
  • You can work your way – improve your own morale and efficiency
  • Work-life balance will be easier to achieve

 

Clients Have Trouble Managing Their Budget

Attorney and Client

And they don’t like it. No one does.

If you quote a potential client a $5,000 retainer fee and your hourly rate of $250, they hear numbers, but no price. They know they’ll lose $5,000 now, but they don’t know how much they’ll get back. If any. Or worse – whether they’ll owe more.

This leads to:

  • Stress and anxiety throughout the entire legal process
  • Wondering if you really need the amount of time you’re spending
  • Valuable trust being lost

Now, it’s not because they don’t trust you as an attorney or trust your ability to handle their case.

It’s because every hour you work on their case is another $250 gone. Your clients want you to spend time on their cases because they want the best possible outcome. But they can’t help but cringe every time their bill increases.

Additionally, your clients may feel pressured to rush through their interactions with you, which can leave them with unasked questions and uncertainties.

 

Flat Fee Pricing Gives Your Clients Financial Peace of Mind & Builds Trust

Attorney Handshake

The truth is that most people don’t know what they should be looking for in an attorney… so they shop around on price. (One reason why referrals are so valuable.)

Being able to quote potential clients one flat fee upfront gives them the peace of mind that they want. There’s a lot of value in knowing they won’t be hit with surprises, and in being able to accurately work you into their budget.

Flat fee pricing helps build trust between you and your clients as well. They know that you aren’t trying to squeeze the most money out of them that you can.

Flat fees prove to clients upfront that you care about them, not just their wallets.

 

Some Case Types Benefit More Than Others from Flat Fee Pricing

Attorney Laptop

Not every firm will be able to take advantage of flat fee pricing. Many case types are too complicated to assign one flat fee.

Litigation, for example, is difficult. Simply because you don’t know what could be coming around the corner. The other side could settle after the answer is filed, or they could file more motions. It’s hard to pick an average price that would work.

 

What works great with a flat fee pricing model?

Cases that are more transactional.

  • Estate planning
  • Contract reviews and drafting
  • DUI cases
  • Bankruptcy
  • Etc.

There isn’t as much variation with these types of cases, so it’s a lot easier to assign a price.

 

The Predictability of Flat Fee Pricing Can Help Scale Your Firm

Scale Your Law Firm Money

It’s hard to guess your future income when charging by the hour. Both the number of cases you’ll have and the time you’ll spend on them are unknown variables.

Flat fee pricing helps by taking away that second variable. You can have a much steadier idea of your potential income on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, it allows you to analyze and plan your budget more effectively. If you have your paralegal reviewing or drafting agreements before they land on your desk, you want to quantify that cost in relation to the case. It’s much easier to do that with real numbers vs a guess.

 

Flat Fee Pricing = Easier Sales

Attorney with Clients

Your clients aren’t really paying you for your time. They’re paying you for the value of the work you do for them on their case. The only reason they care how long it takes you is because how much they pay is dependent on it.

Most people don’t have experience searching for an attorney. And most people don’t have unlimited funds or the ability to not concern themselves with their final cost. For that reason, cost is usually a deciding factor in their selection.

With flat fee pricing, your firm has the advantage of being able to tell potential clients, “Here’s what you’ll pay. No surprises.”

. . .

 

There are plenty of attorneys who swear by flat fees. Megan Porth, Founder & Managing Attorney of Your Contract Shop, is one example.

It’s safe to say that people are interested in affordable, predictable, transparent, and accessible legal services. Nothing about that concept is novel. The market for this type of service is there.

Consider what you’re looking for in your firm and personal life. You do have options beyond typical hourly billing, and you can break out of that cycle!

 

Schedule a call with our Growth Solutions Strategist today to strategize more ways to improve your law firm’s operations and your work-life balance.

3+ Things To Start Doing Now That Will Make Your Law Firm More Money

How to Make Lots of Money as an Attorney“How can I make lots of money as an attorney?”

Even if it was back in law school, you’ve probably googled this before.

 

And if you’re running a solo or small law firm, you know the frustration of trying to fulfill your dream of having your own thriving, profitable firm. And you know how difficult it is to watch it not happening.

If you want to make lots of money as an attorney, you need to stop seeing yourself as an attorney. Well, as just an attorney. You’re practicing the law, but you’re also shouldering all the responsibilities of a business.

 

And those responsibilities aren’t just taxes, payroll, and administrative work. A thriving, profitable business requires strategizing, evaluating, and of course, knowing:

  • The way your clients think and how to use that information to land more leads
  • How and where to spend your money to bring in the most profit
  • The most effective ways to make time for billable work and additional clients to grow your firm

 

So, here’s how you really can make lots of money as an attorney:

1. Capture All Potential Income by Capturing Every Potential Client

Make Lots of Money as an Attorney

Sounds like a no-brainer.

But so many law firms are still missing out on potential new clients – and they don’t need to be. Here are some of the ways you could be too:

  • You’re missing their calls (80% of callers won’t leave a voicemail)
  • You aren’t collecting their information in full
  • Your firm doesn’t have sales scripting in place to sell your services
  • You’re not using a Call Flow Blueprint
  • You’re wasting time on people you can’t help
  • You can’t take every potential client because you don’t have the time

 

Make Sure Your Firm Answers Every Call – The Right Way

  • That call you missed on your lunch break? Could have been your biggest client this year.
  • The caller whose phone number your receptionist forgot to take down? They’re probably not going to call back on their own.
  • That caller who declined to schedule due to your consultation fee? Maybe you could have sold it to them with the right scripting.

 

Every call has the potential to grow your law firm and make you more money. Bringing in more clients is the way your law firm will grow. So never undermine the importance of a single potential new client on the line.

 

“It’s fine, it was just one call.” – Small law firm attorney struggling to grow.

 

Impress Your Potential Clients on Their First Call to Establish Your Firm as the Best Choice

Leave your callers with a positive, professional, and capable impression of your law firm – immediately on that initial call.

Your potential clients have a list of attorneys that they’re calling through. Realistically, that first call will be their only call if your firm doesn’t stand out amongst the rest (or pick up the phone). That means your customer service doesn’t need to be adequate. Or without mistakes. It means your customer service needs to be above and beyond that of the competition.

 

Want some more help answering your phones? The Guide to 10+ Best Ways to Answer Your Law Firm’s Phones

 

Hook the People You Can Help, And Don’t Waste Time on the People You Can’t

How? By completing intakes on that first call. Every time.

Completing intakes on the first call:

  • Filters out callers you can’t help
  • Hooks the callers you can help
  • Collects the information you need to track the types of callers you get

 

Time is money. And as an attorney, your time is big money. If you’re looking to scale your law firm, you can’t waste your valuable time on (likely free) consultations for potential clients you that won’t be able to help.

When your potential clients get to your firm in their list of attorneys to call, you want to do everything in your power to make sure that the rest of that list gets scrapped. Scheduling a consultation alone won’t do that. If you aren’t the first consultation they have scheduled, you’re in a tight spot.

Make your potential clients feel like they are already your clients by completing their intakes on the first call. This makes them feel like they’ve begun their legal process, with you.

 

But What If…

You don’t have time to complete intakes on the spot for every potential client that calls in?

Or convince callers that your fees are well worth it?

Or catch every call?

 

We’ll get to that later.

For now, you need to bring in more leads:

2. Get More Reliable Leads by Starting a Client Referral Program

Attorney Handshake

Referrals are highly likely clients. And they’re easy sells.

Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report found that only 16% of clients seek a referral and search on their own for an attorney. That means 73% of clients who seek referrals, are choosing them.

 

How Clients Shop for a Lawyer

Source: Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report

 

That’s a crazy big percentage. But why?

Many of your potential clients have never needed an attorney before. (It’s even more likely that they’ve never experienced their particular case type.) For most people, finding an attorney is:

  • Intimidating
  • Complex
  • Stressful
  • High stakes

 

Don’t forget, while this will be a business deal for you, your potential clients could have their entire family, business, or reputation on the line. They can’t afford to make a mistake by selecting the wrong attorney. Choosing an attorney who was referred to them by their trusted friends or family is often the most comfortable choice that a nervous new client can make.

 

Set Up a Referral Program for Your Firm That Brings in Low Effort Leads

Here is a step-by-step guide for setting up a law firm referral program that actually lands more clients: Your Law Firm Is Missing Out on Easy Money (The Guide to Getting More Referrals).

But these are the basic steps you need to follow:

  • Develop an enticing offer
  • Entice your clients (Make sure the news reaches them)
  • Meticulously track your referrals
  • Follow up – The right way

 

Your firm is, in all likelihood, already relying on referrals in some capacity. And you know that referrals are an easy sell.

Your firm should be doing everything feasible to increase your referrals from current and previous clients.

 

However, no matter how good your referral program is, your clients will not refer you to their friends and family if they had a negative experience with your firm. Here’s how to avoid that:

3. Improve Your Law Firm’s Reputation by Communicating Effectively with Your Clients

Attorneys

Here’s a secret most people won’t tell you: Good communication is the secret sauce for law firm customer service and client experience that leads to positive reviews and more referrals.

 

Not only is failure to communicate a top bar complaint, it’s a top complaint everywhere.

Take a look through the reviews for some of your competition. You’ll notice communication (or lack thereof) coming up time and time again. And don’t overlook the power of reviews for attorneys.

 

View Situations From Your Client’s Perspective to Know What They Want

You’re working around the clock on cases. And sure, you might get emotionally involved in some of those cases. But you’re not sitting around by the phone waiting to hear what’s happening with one specific case that could change the course of your life.

Your clients are.

It’s easy to lose perspective, or just lose track of how long it’s been since you’ve spoken with a client. You know you’re working on their case doing everything you can for them. You know the law and you’re practicing it.

But remember, if you want to make lots of money as an attorney, you can’t forget that your law firm is a business. And you need to treat it that way.

 

Understand That Your Clients Need to Hear From You, No Matter What

Do your clients constantly call you or your office just asking for updates on their case? That’s a bad sign.

That client is anxious and on edge wondering when they’ll hear from you and wondering what’s happening with their case. Quite frankly, if you haven’t reached out to them, there probably isn’t anything going on with their case. And no news to share with them. But for your clients, “no news” is news:

  • I’m still working on paperwork
  • We haven’t heard back from the opposing party
  • Etc.

Even a simple, “No news yet” works for an update.

 

Set Communication Expectations to Reduce Your Clients’ Stress.

Make it clear when your clients will hear from you. And follow through.

There are a few ways to do this.

  • Set a regular check-in schedule. An example would be: You’ll reach out to your client every Friday to update them regardless of any activity with their case.
  • Set individual schedules for clients based on the unique dynamics of their cases.

 

Regular check-ins are easy to delegate to your receptionist. Instead of emailing or calling clients every week yourself, have your receptionist send and make emails and calls for your clients when you don’t have updates.

For many cases, you’ll want to reach out to your client when you have an update even it’s before your scheduled time. Whatever you choose to do, make sure your clients know when they will hear from you. And always follow through.

 

4. Save & Make Money by Outsourcing or Delegating Your Administrative Work

Law Firm Administrative Work

This is one of those “Spend money to make money” situations.

  • Completing intakes?
  • Answering phones?
  • Scheduling appointments?
  • Answering FAQ’s?
  • Processing payments?
  • Providing directions to your office?
  • Adding leads to your CRM?
  • Making outbound calls?

 

All of these are:

  • Not billable work
  • Time-consuming
  • Unpredictable
  • Not worth your time

 

The reality is, you should have pretty much anyone else doing this type of administrative work. Any professional, that is. (Not your well-meaning spouse.)

Any time you spend on administrative work is time you can’t spend on billable work.

And if you want to make lots of money as an attorney… you need to be doing more billable work.

 

The only question you need to ask is:

“Who do I outsource my administrative work to?”

And you have options. No one solution can claim to be the best solution for every firm.

  • You could hire an in-house receptionist
  • Delegate work to your paralegal
  • Or outsource to a virtual receptionist company

 

Virtual Receptionists

Your best bet is likely a legal specialized virtual receptionist service like Back Office Betties. This is because legal virtual receptionists can handle your administrative work for you at a fraction of the cost of your other options. Without slashing the quality of service or missing the legal expertise that you need.

Back Office Betties hires receptionists with experience in the legal industry and provides ongoing legal, sales, and customer service training for all staff.

All of Betties’ receptionists complete custom training courses for each and every firm we work with, to ensure the same level of familiarity as someone sitting at your front desk.

 

In-House Receptionist

An experienced in-house legal receptionist will be able to provide a great level of customer service and handle your administrative work flawlessly as well. The biggest difference is: value.

The average cost of an in-house receptionist is $4,123.60/month. (For reference, Back Office Betties’ plans range from $309 – $1,699/month.)

Unfortunately, in-house receptionists take lunch and bathroom breaks, step away from the phone, and call in sick. And that’s more than reasonable behavior. But remember, every missed call is a potential client lost.

If you want to make a lot of money as an attorney… Start seeing dollar signs every time the phone rings.

 

Already have an in-house receptionist that you can’t live without?

Consider a virtual receptionist service to back up your phones when they aren’t available.

 

Paralegal

The major downside of delegating administrative work to your paralegal is that they have the ability to take significantly more substantial work off of your plate. Leaving you with even more time to spend on billable work. Not to mention, your paralegal is a pretty expensive receptionist.

 

But again, anything is better than doing it yourself.

 

. . .

The biggest roadblocks small and solo attorneys face while struggling to grow their firm are landing clients and not having enough time to do billable work.

If you want to make lots of money as an attorney, you need more clients. And you can’t take on more clients if you don’t have the time to work on their cases.

 

Schedule a call with our Growth Solutions Strategist today to strategize the best steps for your firm to start landing more clients and making more money.

If You Don’t Have One of These, You’re Probably Having a Bad Time With Your Phones

Call Flow Blueprints (The Answer You've Been Searching For)

Sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on what exactly it is about someone you just can’t stand. Is it the way they pronounce “niche”? Is it because they’re always running late, but somehow, nobody seems to care… cause it’s THEM? Could it be just. how. much. hair gel. they seem to be dipping their head into every morning? Hold on – is it because they never use the oxford comma?

 

Phone calls at your law firm are just like that person. You wouldn’t be able to pick one factor out of the bunch to place your frustrations on if you tried. Because frankly, there are just too many of them at play.

 

But don’t worry… it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to get organized, so organized, that you’ll be able to pinpoint the cause of any concern that arises and fix problems you may not have even known you had.

 

Let’s talk about your call flow process, and how a Call Flow Blueprint can whip it into shape.

 

Use a Call Flow Blueprint to Outline Your Call Flow Process

Put simply: A Call Flow Blueprint is a specific plan that outlines your call flow process for every single call that comes into your law firm.

If you don’t have one of these, your phone process could be equivalent to just winging it. And (good news!) that means there are headaches that your firm has been coping with that are completely preventable.

 

A Good Call Flow Process Can Transform Your Law Firm

In more ways than you might imagine:

  • Increasing conversion rates for new leads
  • Ensuring the correct information is collected based on call types
  • Giving your clients the top-tier service they deserve
  • Keeping your office and operations running smoothly
  • Saving your time & sanity

 

Get Your Call Flow Process Started in Just a Few Steps:

Think about your calls and come up with a few questions.

Start with the basics:

  • Who answers your calls?
  • And who answers your calls when they’re unavailable?
  • What types of calls do you get?
    • New Clients
    • Existing Clients
    • Opposing Parties
    • Attorneys
    • Team Members
    • Payments
    • Solicitations
    • Etc.

And then break those basics down.

Take potential new clients for example:

  • Which case type are they inquiring about?
  • Should each case type be routed the same way?
  • Does this call type get forwarded to the attorney?
  • Or should a message be taken?
  • How should the message be delivered? Email, text, post-it note?
  • If there are multiple attorneys at your firm, do they all prefer their messages be sent in the same way?

 

Dive a little deeper…

  • If a potential client is ready to schedule a consultation, what information needs to be collected?
  • And what information should be collected if they’re not?
  • Do you have scripting in place to sell unsure potential clients on paid consultations?
  • Where do you refer cases outside of your practice area?
  • How should your referral sources be tracked and organized?

 

The answers to most of your questions will depend on the type of phone call that just came in. And that’s where your Call Flow Blueprint comes into play.

But it’s deeper than that.

Just like that one person you can’t stand, your disorganized phone process is hitting pain points with your clients and law firm in more ways than one.

Figure Out How Your Disorganized Call Flow Process Is Hitting Pain Points With Your Clients & Law Firm… So You Can Fix It

So all of that may seem like a lot to you. Maybe you’re thinking it’s a bit extra and not worth the effort?

But time after time, we’ve seen how disorganized call flow processes (or worse, lack thereof) are detrimental to law firms.

 

1. You’re Missing Calls

This one is self-explanatory. Missed calls are missed opportunities.

Considering that 80% of callers won’t leave a voicemail… potential new clients will move on to the next firm on their list. And current clients’ frustrations and concerns will increase, but you won’t find out until it’s too late.

Your Call Flow Blueprint starts with answering the phone. Lock down a set schedule to ensure there is always someone available on your end.

 

2. You’re Getting Incomplete Information

There are so many types of calls that come into your firm… more than you may have realized before breaking down your categories.

Even large firms struggle with collecting necessary information. An ABA study showed that 86% of law firms did not ask for the caller’s email, and 45% didn’t even ask for their phone number!

Small & Solo firms have it worse. You and your staff are likely covering multiple roles, and highly unlikely to be staring at the phone just waiting to take that next call.

You can’t expect busy staff members to remember every detail off the top of their heads. That’s why it’s so crucial to have a concrete plan in place that can be followed seamlessly.

 

3. You’re Not Capturing All Your Leads

This one ties into missed calls and incomplete information.

You can’t capture a lead if you never speak to them. They’ll move on to the next guy if you miss their first call.

Too many law firms struggle to collect callers’ information. If you forget necessary questions or don’t verify spellings, you’ll miss out on a new client.

Furthermore, confidence and competence translate through the phone. You need to answer your phones with certainty and professionalism. Always know the next step for every situation.

“Um…” is never going to be a good response when a potential client tells you their story, and you’re trying to remember if this is the case type your partner is always saying to transfer.

Your potential clients have their reputation, their business, their family, their health, you get it – on the line. They will not be willing to take a risk with an attorney or firm that does not sound professional and capable.

Especially when there are so many other options.

 

4. The Lack of Communication Frustrates Your Clients

Good communication is a deciding factor in what makes a “good” lawyer for many clients. Take a look at some reviews for the competition. You’ll find communication, or lack thereof, coming up again and again.

When your client is calling you to get an update, they’re already feeling like you aren’t communicating with them. If you miss that call – or worse – miss it again, their frustration multiplies.

But let’s say they are able to leave a message, and that message contains inaccuracies, doesn’t make it to you in a timely fashion, or doesn’t make it to you at all… that could end just as badly.

Use your Call Flow Blueprint to outline every detail and keep your clients happy and in the loop:

  • When calls should, and should not, be forwarded (and to whom)
  • The preferred method of message delivery
  • The exact information to take down on a case by case basis
  • Scripting to use for disgruntled or upset clients to address their concerns

 

You can overcome all of these obstacles when you execute your new Call Flow Blueprint.

Betties Creates a Custom Call Flow Blueprint for Every Law Firm

No two Call Flow Blueprints should be alike. Because no two law firms are alike.

That’s why Back Office Betties develops a custom Blueprint for every law firm we work with. Your phone process should work for you, not against you.

So here’s how your Call Flow Blueprint will finally give you some peace of mind:

 

Ensure Every Call Is Handled Properly

Every call is handled properly every time. You can rest easy knowing:

  • No potential client is missed
  • Accurate information is given every time
  • Your clients are kept happy
  • Unnecessary phone calls won’t interrupt your work

 

Consistent Information Is Given

Your callers will receive the same answers to questions each time they’re asked.

Conflicting information leads callers to ask, “If they can’t manage their own law firm, how will they manage my case?”

 

You Always Know What’s Going On With Your Phones

Never receive incomplete messages… and always receive them promptly.

Your Call Flow Blueprint will organize each call type and make call tracking easy.

 

You Choose When (And Whether!) You Want to Be Interrupted

Your dream come true?

Avoid constant interruptions so that you can finally get some billable work done. (Or maybe have lunch in peace!) And never miss calls you do need to be transferred leaving important matters waiting either.

 

Schedule a call with our Growth Solutions Strategist today to set up a free Call Flow Blueprint Planning Session and get your calls under control and your sanity back!

How Busy Attorneys Take Vacations Without Working The Whole Time

Attorney on VacationIf you’re anything like the rest of Americans, you could probably use a vacation. As more people get vaccinated and more places across the country (and world) open up, it’s looking like 2021 will be the year to get back out there and enjoy yourself.

 

“But I can’t leave my firm! I’ll have to work the whole time,” you say.

 

Not quite.

 

You’re a busy attorney and you deserve to take a break. Not only that, but it’s possible for you to get this break without working from the beach. You just might not know it yet.

 

A little work to set up some key components to running your law firm now could save you a whole lotta stress and time in the long run. I’m talking maybe even two work-free vacations this year 😉

 

Busy Attorneys Enjoy Work-Free Vacations Through:

  • Automation
  • Systems & Processes
  • Phone Coverage
  • Communication With Clients

 

How Automation Can Help You Enjoy Your Vacay

We’ve talked about it before and surely this won’t be the last time: Automation is one of the greatest tools to have in your belt.

 

Automation doesn’t have to be computerized – it can simply be a task triggered to someone (preferably someone who is not you) after another task or trigger is completed.

 

Things you can automate to help you step away from your law firm:

  • New Client Intakes
  • Client Follow-up
  • Payment Agreements
  • Accepting Payments
  • Client Scheduling

 

Replicate Yourself With Systems & Processes

You like things done a specific way so you tend to try and do most of it yourself. Or you outsource a task but find yourself frustrated that they didn’t do it the way you do. Sound about right?

 

If so, you could benefit from documenting your systems and processes so that anyone who takes on the tasks you’ve been doing will do them exactly as you like them done.

 

Not only will this help you take a vacation without sacrificing your law firm’s productivity, but it will also save you tons of time and stress in your day-to-day!

 

Some systems & processes you can document and replicate in your law firm:

  • Standard client communication practices
  • Documentation processes
  • Court filings
  • Client intake questions
  • Case research
  • Communication with the courts
  • Email organization
  • & so much more

 

Communicate With Your Clients & Return Stress-Free

Even if you’ve put all of the above steps into place, there’s still a chance that your clients will demand your attention. Especially if they have no clue as to why you are seemingly dodging their calls.

 

The best way to get ahead of this is to communicate prior to silencing your phone. Let your clients (at least, the ones most likely to notice your absence) know that you will be out of the office and give them guidance on how to get in contact with someone else that can help them in the meantime.

You can do this through email, by setting an Out Of Office reply message, and also by updating your phone’s voicemail to provide details of whom to contact for assistance in case their call goes unanswered.

 

Phone Coverage Is A Vacation-Saver

If there’s only one thing you can do to cover yourself for a vacation, it should be getting your phones covered. Nothing can cramp your vacation style quite like your phone ringing off the hook while you’re trying to relax by the pool.

 

By ensuring your phones are answered while you’re away, you can ensure your client questions are still handled, lead information is still captured, and appointments can still be booked. Things don’t have to go completely on hold just because you’re not working that week. In fact, it’s best that they don’t so that your workload stays steady once you’re back.

 

If you don’t already have a dedicated receptionist, the easiest way to do this is to hire an answering service. They can keep the status quo with your callers and ensure that all questions are answered and appointments get booked for after you come back.

 

If you’ve been searching for a way to take a much-needed vacation this year, give us a call at (800) 958-8591 and discover how Back Office Betties can help you get away, stress-free.