In a recent survey, law firms indicated that scheduling, conducting, and managing the initial consultations were among their biggest pain points. It’s often the hardest and most annoying part of the actual intake process.
Some of the uncertainties and frustrations include the following questions:
- Who schedules the initial consultation?
- How is it conducted (Zoom, in-person, over-the-phone)?
- Is it done immediately after doing the information intake? A day later? A week later?
- Who’s in charge of sending calendar invites? Is a Zoom link (or some other video tool) included on the invite?
- Who’s following up to ensure the person shows up?
Bottom line: the initial consultation is a frustration for law firms.
We want to provide a step-by-step process for you to set appointments effectively with new prospective clients AND improve the initial consultation process.
At many firms, the intake specialist will pass off the responsibility for setting up the initial consultation to the attorney or legal assistant. At other firms, the intake specialist is responsible for setting up that meeting directly.
At small firms, one person does it ALL.
There is no right or wrong answer for who should set up the meeting. Just make sure it’s clear who is supposed to do it.
Too many firms try to set up an initial consultation hours, days, or even a week after the lead has come in and after the intake process has occurred. That’s a bad idea.
Put it this way: the longer you wait to do that initial consultation, the higher the likelihood that the client finds another firm.
Research indicates that new clients don’t choose your firm because you’re great lawyers, wonderful attorneys or have degrees from a great law school. They choose a firm because that firm was the first to reach out to them, answer their questions, and make them feel like their problems mattered. In short, clients choose firms based on how effectively the firm communicates.
So, do the initial consultation AS QUICKLY as possible. Don’t wait.
The longer you wait the more likely the prospective client is to find another firm.
What? This is madness?
Here’s why I say this: don’t wait to do the initial consultation. Here’s the process we recommend:
- The person called or texted in and asked questions
- You got basic information from them via phone or text
- Do the initial consultation RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait. Don’t send a calendar invite for tomorrow or this afternoon or even 15 minutes from now. DO IT NOW.
- If they called in, just transfer that call to the person doing the initial consultation.
- If they texted in (which 76% of people will do, if you give them the option on your website), you should conduct a live video chat IN THE TEXT THREAD, and immediately do the initial consultation.
Too many firms overthink the initial consultation. They’re worried about sending the invite, doing the meeting on Zoom, or in-person. Forget all that. Focus on doing that initial consultation as quickly as possible, like during the interaction you had when the person called or texted in.