The Most Important Employee in a Law Firm
Every member of a law firm team plays a significant role in the business’ success… at least they should. But there is one position that is most important, and that is the one that handles new client phone calls and emails. I say this for 2 reasons. First, every piece of revenue comes through this person. If they aren’t doing a good job, it’s costing your firm revenue. Second, the way this person interacts with a potential client is the first impression that prospect gets of how they can expect to be treated by your firm. And regardless of how impressive an attorney’s track record of success may be, it’s very difficult to convert a client who doesn’t feel welcome.
Below are some recommendations for hiring and keeping the best client intake personnel, as well as continually improving this key component of success:
- Pay them well. I once worked with a firm that generated roughly $1M in new client revenue each year. They had one intake person and paid her less than $20,000 annually. That’s a bad recipe.
- Regularly emphasize to your intake person how important his or her job is to firm’s success. Everyone does a better job when they feel important and valued.
- Secret shop your intake personnel, and analyze the call recordings to ensure the highest levels of quality and service are being attained.
- Expect consistent improvement. Regardless of how experienced and proficient your intake person is, there is always room for improvement. Make regular training to enhance skills a priority, and convey the message that everyone at the firm, including partners, are expected to improve their job performance.
- Don’t overload them. When your phone rings with a new client, your intake personnel needs to be on their game. It’s very hard for even the best employee to switch gears from a huge stack of work to effectively communicating with a prospect.
- Provide an incentive. Law firm staff is very perceptive when it comes to what certain cases are worth to the firm. If an intake person does a nice job on a case that pays well, give that person a bonus. It doesn’t have to be much. Sometimes a couple hundred dollars that’s unexpected can make a huge impact.
There are many law firms spending tens of thousands of dollars each year on client development, but paying no attention to the most important link in the client conversion chain. Avoid that mistake by paying close attention to who is doing client intake, and how well they are doing it.