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Top 5 Law Firm Best Practices for Converting Calls into Clients


When someone picks up the phone and calls an attorney, it’s because he or she has a pressing legal matter that requires immediate attention. Think of someone calling a criminal defense lawyer—the clock is ticking, and there’s little time to spare in finding legal representation. So what happens if this potential client calls your firm and reaches voicemail or doesn’t quickly receive the answers he or she needs? You guessed it: the caller moves on to the next law firm on the list.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to turn calls into new clients. You won’t get a second chance.

To ensure a new caller, or lead, receives the answers he or she needs, it’s vital to develop a solid lead intake strategy. Ask yourself:

  • When a potential client calls your law firm, does he or she get a response right away?
  • Is the caller able to speak with someone who can answer his/her initial questions and help determine if your firm is the right choice?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, you could be missing out on some high-quality cases. We’ve compiled the following tips gleaned from tried and true best practices. These tips will help you avoid losing prospective clients as a result of mishandling leads.

1. Be Available

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to handling leads is being unavailable. As we mentioned above, someone with an urgent legal need isn’t going to wait around to speak with you. There’s a short window of time for you to take action and capture that lead before one of your competitors does.

If you are a small law firm, you might be relying on a voicemail system to field your calls, or you may be trying to take calls yourself—when you can. This method might appear to be saving you money, but it could be costing you a lot more in the long run. Someone should always be available during business hours to answer the phone and start the client intake process, whether that is a secretary or a third-party call center. Let’s face it—there will be times when you will have go to court, meet with clients, or simply focus on a big case. That doesn’t mean you should be missing out on new business.

2. Respond Quickly

Be sure to respond promptly to all voicemail messages, emails, and other forms of communication from potential clients. Remember, as an attorney, these leads have an urgent need to get legal help. Not responding quickly enough could make you lose you clients. According to research featured in an study, 50% of consumers choose the service provider that is first to respond. It also shows that you have a 21x higher chance of turning a lead into a sale (or in this case, a new client) when you contact the lead within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes. Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t up to speed, as the average response time is 61 hours. 47% of companies actually fail to respond at all.

3. Follow Up

Do you have a lead that made initial contact with your firm but has not yet retained your services? Be sure to follow up. This prospect may still be deciding between attorneys. By reaching out and reminding the potential client that you are available, you not only stay in the forefront of their minds, but you also show the individual that your firm is attentive and ready to get to work on his or her case. That could possibly tip the scales in your favor.

4. Create a Formal Lead Intake Process

Your intake process should be clearly established, and everyone who answers the phone should know it inside and out. Give your team a list of questions they should ask to determine if the caller is a qualified lead, and have them thoroughly document this information. For example, the person processing the lead should ask for the basic details of the case to ensure that your firm actually handles cases like theirs, and they should also ask about the jurisdiction of the legal matter. It is also helpful to ask the caller how he or she heard about your firm.

If you want to take it a step further, you can even implement a system for rating the quality of the lead. You don’t want to waste time pursuing prospects that are not actually a good fit for your firm. In addition to that, the person answering the phone should be able to direct leads to the appropriate attorney at your firm.

5. Hire Someone to Handle Your Lead Intake Process

Lead intake is an essential part of your practice. However, it's a time-consuming process. Between answering phones, completing the initial intake, answering emails, and following up with prospects, it really is a full-time job. If you try to do it yourself, you will be taking time away from your current cases and clients. It’s inevitable—something will suffer, and it will cost you money. Don’t waste valuable time doing something that you can hire someone else to do!

Need more tips for kicking your law firm marketing up a notch? Check out this free e-book.