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How to Choose The Best Answering Service For Your Law Firm

Lawyers are notorious for working long hours. Between juggling complex cases, new client consultations, and mountains of paperwork, fielding calls every five minutes can disrupt your flow and leave you burning the midnight oil. 

Sure – letting calls go unanswered might seem like a temporary time saver. But in reality it creates a frustrating experience for potential clients, especially for those dealing with stressful, time-sensitive situations. By the time you return their call, they’ve likely moved on to a competitor with a more responsive frontline.

Luckily, there’s a better way to manage the constant back-and-forth with potential clients while building your caseload. This blog breaks down what a 24/7 legal answering service is and the factors that firms should consider before outsourcing

What is a 24/7 Legal Answering Service?

Think of it as a gatekeeper for your time. A 24/7 answering service is a third-party company staffed with trained virtual receptionists who operate around the clock, 365 days a year. They can screen calls, take messages, and transfer only the calls that truly require your attention, ensuring potential clients don’t get lost in the voicemail void. Their 24/7 availability means that you can extend your firm’s operating hours without needing to personally staff the phones.

Quick Facts:

  • 68% of consumers first contact a lawyer or law firm by phone (Clio)
  • 42% of the time, law firms take an average of 3+ days to respond to a message from a new potential client (Law Technology Today)
  • 86% of the time, law firms fail to collect an email address, and 45% of the time, law firms fail to collect a phone number on an initial call (Law Technology Today)

Assessing Your Firm’s Needs

Are you a bustling personal injury firm that needs after-hours coverage for emergencies? Or perhaps a solo practice specializing in corporate law, seeking occasional overflow support? Choosing the right answering service for your firm means getting clear on what you need from a provider first. Think about the following questions:

  • Call volume: How many calls do you typically receive per day/week/month?
  • Coverage: Do you need someone to answer calls outside of business hours?
  • Client Intake: What information do you need assistance with collecting over the phone?
  • Integration: Do you require the service to schedule appointments or perform tasks for clients using your software or website?
  • Budget: How much are you comfortable spending on a monthly basis?

Finding The Perfect Fit For Your Firm: Everything You Need To Know

Choosing a legal answering service can be a daunting task. With so many providers, how do you find the right partner? Many quality answering services go beyond just answering calls. Look for features that address your firm’s specific needs, fill gaps in your processes, and ultimately enhance your overall legal operations. Here are some key considerations:

24/7 Availability: If you’re a personal injury or criminal defense law firm, potential customers may be seeking legal advice day or night. A reliable service provides year-round coverage, guaranteeing a professional response to every inquiry, regardless of when it comes in.

Live Call Answering: Ensure callers always speak to a real person who is trained to understand the nuances of legal inquiries and can use common sense when necessary.

Location: Where will your calls be answered? Some answering services may have locations in Canada yet overflow to a different country, or even a different continent during peak periods. You’ll want to clarify this with potential providers if you’re concerned about consistency of service and legal compliance. 

Experience + Training: The best answering services have years of hands-on experience serving your specific industry. Can they provide staff that are specially trained to handle the types of calls your law firm receives? 

Account Management: Will you have a dedicated account manager you can contact for support? Look for a provider with a strong commitment to responsiveness – ideally, one that offers quick turnaround times for your questions and concerns.

Custom Messaging: Look for a service that can build call scripts that are customized around your preferences, processes, and brand.

Bilingual Support: Does your firm cater to a diverse clientele? Providing services in your clients’ preferred language ensures every client can get the assistance they need.

Message Delivery: How will the answering service deliver messages to you and your team? Do messages need to go to more than one team member? Many providers offer multiple options including phone, email, text message, or a combination of all three.

Call Logs: Can the answering service provide you with access to data from your calls and/or detailed reports? Overtime, tracking this info like call volumes and peak times can help identify trends, optimize your marketing efforts, and make informed decisions about scheduling and staffing.

Privacy + Security: How does the answering service handle and store data from your client interactions? Ensure the service adheres to strict data security protocols and provides employee training on confidentiality and PIPEDA compliance.

Disaster Recovery Plan: How does the answering service maintain continuity of service when there’s a power outage or natural disaster? Ask potential providers about the plans they have in place to ensure there’s minimal disruption to your client communication.

Scalability: Does your law firm plan to expand? Consider a service that can grow with you. Look for an answering service that offers flexible per-minute plans and has the staffing capacity to accommodate call volume fluctuations.

The Final Verdict

When it comes to determining the best answering service for your law firm, take the time to choose wisely and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come. Done right, outsourced call handling can ensure you never miss a lead and project a professional image around the clock. 

Read reviews, get quotes, and prioritize the right features – but don’t rely solely on online research. The true test lies in picking up the phone. Speak with a potential provider’s staff directly and gauge their professionalism, responsiveness and knowledge. After all, choosing the right answering service is about more than just convenience – it’s an investment in your firm’s success.