On any given morning, thousands of lawyers come into the office and ask: how many new clients did we sign?

But how many ask: how many calls did we receive and how many did we NOT sign.

We all have blind spots when it comes to analyzing our intake process. We’re not even aware of our lack of awareness. These blind spots—what you don’t even know that you don’t know—lower your conversion rates and drain money from your marketing budget. 

But if you shine some light on them, you can learn invaluable information. It’s these “unknown unknowns” (as Donald Rumsfeld put it) that hold the secret to happier clients and a more profitable practice.

Want more money in your pocket? Figure out what you don’t know you don’t know ®. Here are three ways to begin:

1. The most important question that lawyers don’t ask

I’m shocked at how many intake forms lack the most important question of all. More important than any specific detail of the client or case is this: 

How do you want me to communicate with you?

Most law offices ASSUME that you should respond with the same communication method you received. If the client calls them, they call back. 

But this assumption is costing you leads. Clients communicate in very different ways. Do they want a text message? Do they use Zoom or Facetime? Do they want to hear from you at 9 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon? 

Firms are in such a rush to take down information and find out if they have a case that they skip over this crucial question because they ASSUME. They don’t even know that they don’t know the answer. But when you ask, the question brings you two huge benefits:

    1. You now know how to conduct the next steps of your sales funnel, the chase. You have a greater chance than your competitors to actually reach the potential client by communicating on their terms.


  1. You’ve positioned yourself in a different, more personal light than the other firms they may be reaching out to. You’ve shown that you’re interested in building a relationship with the client and that you’ll make it as easy as possible for them to do business with you. 

2. Use a CRM system to the fullest

To truly understand your blind spots, you need help from technology. And I mean smart, intuitive, modern technology—spreadsheets won’t cut it, follow up lists and stick notes won’t cut it.

A modern CRM (customer relationship management) system tracks each lead from the first call to close. Along the way, they give lawyers more information than they’ve ever had about their intake and lead conversion efforts. You can see not only what’s working—but also what’s not working. What's not working is most important.

They can show you heatmaps, visualizing what advertising campaigns are working and which aren’t. You can analyze changes in the types of cases and clients coming your way. And when you integrate your CRM into your case management software, you can analyze your entire process, seeing which leads and marketing campaigns result in the best settlements.

Lead tracking software like Lead Docket walks your team through each step of the intake process. It pays special attention to the most important (and most overlooked) phase: the chase.

When potential clients are shopping around for a lawyer, you want to be the one they connect with best. You can’t just sit back and wait for them to choose you. You need to show them your commitment to their case. CRM systems walk your staff through the chase process, reminding them when and how to reach out to potential clients, and making sure no lead falls through the cracks. Complete accountability.

It’s shocking how few firms engage fully in the chase phase. They’re paying through the nose for good advertising—but by failing to convert more leads, they’re throwing much of that money away. 

That’s why CRM systems are the best way to improve marketing ROI. Managing the sales funnel with technology, can bring you 20-35% increased net profit. That means more money in your pocket from leads you’ve already paid for. A net return is what you want, right?

3. Listen more profoundly

New technology can teach you a tremendous amount—but it’s not all about numbers. To learn more about your clients, you need to treat them with compassion. 

I write this directly into the intake process. I remind staff not to just rush the caller along through the details of the case. Pause, listen, and express genuine compassion. 

Empathy improves conversions and builds client loyalty. And opens up a channel of communication so you can learn more about your case and your client. If lawyers want to distinguish themselves from their competition, they need to remember it’s not about them and focus on their people skills. We’re here to serve our clients. What will distinguish you most is how people feel and respect you. I believe it is your most competitive edge.

That’s why I “hire personality and train tactics.” You can teach someone new technologies and techniques. But you can’t teach them how to genuinely develop relationships, build trust, or care about other people.

A focus on your client is also your best tool as you move through toward closing. Walk them compassionately through the process and future possibilities. Focus on their situation. Make sure your most spoken pronoun is “you.” When you explain the time pressures in the case, don’t say, “I’d like to get started now.” Say, “the insurance company is already moving on you.” When you focus on them, they’ll better understand what the stakes are.

The future of the legal profession belongs to lawyers who can plumb the depths of the unknown unknowns. They are steadfast in figuring out what they don’t know. What They Don’t Know They Don’t Know®. When you use technology and compassion to understand your cases and clients, you are building the long-term financial strength of your practice.