In a previous blog entry, I talked about the importance of having your law firm available 24/7. The reality is that clients and potential clients often have imminent needs after-hours. When these imminent needs arise, these clients and potential clients will want to talk to a live person.
The ability to get in touch with a live person can be calming and reassuring for clients and potential clients. For current clients, if they can get in touch with their lawyer after-hours, they are often able to get the peace of mind they want. If the client has to make an important decision quickly, getting in touch with an attorney after-hours can avoid making a mistake that can hurt their case.
As it relates to potential clients, if they can get in touch with a live person after-hours, they will often factor that into their decision on whether to hire your law firm. Responsiveness is just key to getting new clients and keeping clients happy.
Many years ago, some law firms would have a pager. If somebody had a need after-hours, they could page the law firm and get a call-back. Many law firms would rotate the pager around among law firm members as part of a rotation. While pagers are not something most law firms use today, setting up an after-hour call system can be enormously helpful.
You can set this up in various different ways. However, it might be that you have a weekly rotation where one lawyer takes primary responsibility for a week to respond to after-hour calls (and it rotates weekly to a different lawyer). This can ensure that clients and potential clients can reach a lawyer after-hours when they have immediate needs.
If it’s a potential client, the lawyer taking calls after-hours can set up an initial consultation for the individual to come into the office for a consultation. If it’s a current client, the after-hours lawyer can relay the message to the lawyer on the case that this particular client needs a call back right away.
To make this work, you will likely need an after-hour call service that can actually take the calls and deliver the caller information to one source, like a specific email address. There are lots of reputable companies that offer this service for law firms. Some law firms may just have a voice mail that kicks in after-hours and want to check that. However, as it relates to potential clients, many will not leave a voice mail — and will instead call other law firms in the hopes that they can get a live person.
Of course, if you give your personal cell phone number to your clients, there might not be a need for an after-hour call system like this for current clients because they can just call your cell phone. But if you and your law firm do not give cell phone numbers to clients, consider an after-hour call system. Further, the after-hour call system may be needed for potential clients that do not have your cell phone number — even if you give your cell phone number to current clients.
The details of the after-hour system can be tweaked based on the size of your law firm and the area of law in which you practice. But it’s important for most law firms to implement some kind of after-hour system. Law firms that want to get new clients and keep current clients happy cannot tune out on nights and weekends.