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Is Your Law Firm Ready for a Call Answering Service?  

Does your receptionist seem harried answering the volume of calls coming into your office? Do non-receptionist employees frequently stop what they are doing to help answer incoming phone calls? Is your firm experiencing a high number of dropped calls? When you arrive at the office in the morning, is the phone message light always blinking, but few actual messages are left? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your firm needs a call answering service. 

How a call answering service works 

A call answering service (CAS) is a professionally trained outside service that backs up your in-house receptionists during times of high call volumes, when the receptionist is busy or away from their desk and even during non-office hours. 

CAS receptionists function as an extension of your firm by answering calls, taking messages, and forwarding them appropriately. They’re also trained to perform basic intake services such as collecting important information from callers in order to help you decide if you want to accept them as a client. 

They will answer questions about your firm such as firm size and types of cases in which you specialize and even schedule meetings for you. All you do is provide the CAS receptionists with your calendar and any parameters for the types of clients you want to meet with, and they do the rest. 

9 Benefits of using a CAS 

A CAS can reduce stress on your employees, help your firm function more smoothly and even provide it with a larger pool of potential clients. Here are nine benefits that a CAS will bring to your daily operations:

1. Live contact

People usually don’t call an attorney when things are going well. And when people need a lawyer, few things are more frustrating than hearing an automated message say, “Your call is important to us, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you.” 

Even more infuriating is the dreaded call-tree, much like when Bart Simpson calls the police department only to hear, “Press 1 if you want to report a felony. Press 2 if you know the name of the felony being committed. To choose between a list of felonies press 3.”   

Callers generally won’t consider that you are likely helping other clients and therefore unable to pick up the phone. Instead, there is a good likelihood that they will interpret your pleasantly recorded message as “We’re too busy to talk to you. Call another lawyer.”   

People prefer speaking with others when they are in need of serious help and calling a lawyer is almost always serious. A live voice answering the phone helps put callers at ease. It can make them feel like they matter to you and helps you make a good first impression. 

2. Around the clock availability   

Attorneys are known for working long hours. However, most of their staff leave at 5 pm. With a CAS, after-hours callers in need of immediate help won’t have to leave a recorded message and you won’t have to stop what you’re doing to pick up the phone. The CAS greets callers, even in the middle of the night and on holidays. 

CAS receptionists are trained to determine the needs of callers. They will gather necessary information to determine what the matter is about, the urgency of the call, and explain to callers what documents and information they will need to prepare prior to meeting with you. 

3. No need for additional staff 

Because your CAS picks up overflow and after-hours calls, you never need to bring on additional employees or temporary workers to cover the phones when your receptionist is busy, on break or out of the office. No one likes an incessantly ringing phone—and with a CAS you’ll also avoid instances of non-receptionist staff stopping what they’re working on to grab the phone. Each call rolls smoothly over to the CAS. 

4. No expensive phone systems to install  

I have personally never experienced the installation of an automated phone and message system that wasn’t expensive, time consuming and headache inducing. Introducing a new system in your office always interrupts workflow during the installation period and while you train your staff on using it properly. 

A CAS enables you to avoid those problems by instantly providing your firm with dependable and professional representation to every caller. All you have to do is explain to the CAS how you want the phones answered and provide necessary information about your firm and staff. 

5. Quicker response times on messages

A CAS reduces the time between when a client calls the office and when an attorney is alerted to the call. Instead of a recorded message that sits on a phone waiting for the lawyer to listen to it, CAS staff can send a brief summary about the call via text messaging. Some calls can wait, but if the attorney is in the middle of important settlement negotiations or a judge wants to talk, the call must be returned immediately. 

6. Anytime, anywhere connection 

There is no reading of hastily scrawled phone messages or the need to be in the office to receive messages. With a CAS in place, lawyers can access their messages from anywhere, 24/7 by phone, app, or web portal. 

7. Answering basic queries 

Your website is professionally designed, but potential clients may not read it thoroughly, preferring instead to talk to a person and asking questions about the kinds of cases you accept, potential costs, office location and so forth. The CAS will answer all such basic questions and, if more info is needed, connect callers to the proper members of your staff. 

8. Service in other languages 

More than thirteen percent of the U.S. population over the age of five speaks Spanish in the home. A bi-lingual CAS eliminates language barriers for potential clients, makes them feel comfortable and can help improve your conversion rate. 

9. More clients

My experience has been that many potential clients don’t really shop around for lawyers all that much. Typically, they sign on with the first firm or attorney who answers their phone call and gives them a positive experience. A CAS does all that. Potential clients will never hear a busy signal, or a voicemail telling them to leave a message. Each call is answered in a professional, polite, and respectful manner that lets callers know they are important to you and, if their need is urgent, forward the caller to an attorney in a timely manner.

Choosing the right CAS for your firm

There are plenty of legal answering services in operation and determining the one for you can seem overwhelming. To help you select the best fit for your firm and attorneys, here are ten essential characteristics that an effective CAS must have:

  1. A proven record of serving other law firms that are similar in size and practice to your firm.
  2. Customizable plans that fit your budget and circumstances.
  3. A sound understanding of how the legal industry operates and strong familiarity with the common terms of your practice areas.
  4. A billing structure that charges only for the time they are on the phone and not for hang ups, wrong numbers, and telemarketers.
  5. Services not only in Spanish, but also in other languages that are commonly used in your firm’s location.
  6. The ability to try out the product for free or at a discount.
  7. The ability to set your own personalized greetings and parameters for answering and forwarding calls.
  8. The option of sending a summary of the call to the designated attorney immediately after each call.
  9. 24/7, 365 access to messages via phone, app, or web portal.
  10. Low employee turnover. It’s easier collaborating with receptionists who are familiar with your firm and attorneys than constantly bringing new ones up to speed. 

A CAS is a cost effective and efficient tool to help your firm operate more smoothly, reduce excess stress on receptionists, ensure clients receive prompt and effective service and, because no call ever goes unanswered, expand your client pool.