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3 Ways Law Firms Lose Clients at Intake

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. | Last updated on

If you're looking to expand your client base with a splashy new online web campaign, might we suggest that instead of finding new clients to dissatisfy, how about keeping your old ones?

A new white paper from FindLaw, "Failing At The Finish Line," suggests that many firms have no real problem attracting prospective clients; but they drop the ball right at the point of intake. In fact, the problems are so obvious that they're laughable. And yet, for some reason, firms keep screwing up the intake process as if they're doing it on purpose.

1. Forgetting to Collect Contact Information

Congratulations, you're talking to a potential lead. How about collecting their contact information? One law firm partner had a staff member call 126 different law firms that had signed up for a Miami National Trial Lawyers Summit. That staff member posed as a potential personal injury lead. Do you know what she found? Seventy percent of the firms failed to get her contact information before getting off the phone.

Unless the lead decides to hire your firm right then and there, you're essentially at the mercy of the client to call you back if you're so lucky to get a second chance (see below). Without the client contact information, you can't run your business.

2. Forgetting the Firm's Contact Information

Believe it or not, one firm's field study found that, at least for personal injury firms, about a third of them misspelled their own website's URL. Misspellings place your business again at the mercy of Google to do the thinking for you. Keep in mind that Google search algorithms change frequently, too.

3. Failing to Return Calls

Lawyers are infamous for not returning phone calls, or so goes the myth. It turns out that the legend might be rooted in truth. Fully one third of voicemail messages go unanswered at least 24 hours before a call back. For email messages the numbers are even worse. There doesn't seem to be any real consensus as to why law firms are so bad at returning calls. Another de-facto real world "study" found that when the firm promised to call back, about half of them broke that promise.

The Solutions are Clear

The problems are pretty obvious and the solutions are equally as clear. And yet, again, the bad habits of law firms continue to persist. The solutions to expanding your business may have less to do with generating potential leads and more to do with keeping the potential leads already at your firm's door.

This should go without saying, but communicate with your client and call them back. You'll notice that the problems listed above all revolved around inadequate communication and service. The practice of law -- at least for the smaller to midsize firms -- is all about service. Provide your clients with a good experience and the business will surely benefit.

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