How to Create Client-Centered Case Development
Getting new clients can be challenging for attorneys. It takes time to attract inquiries, and each potential client takes even more time to follow up on. Making every client interaction as efficient and client-focused as possible should be a key goal for every law firm.
According to the 2018 Legal Trends report, of individuals who faced a legal issue in the past two years, only 65% of them hired an attorney, 58% had a consultation and did not hire an attorney, and 68% communicated with an attorney but did not hire him or her.
The reality is that many of your potential clients reach out to multiple firms when looking for an attorney—either to find a lawyer they want to work with, to compare prices, or to do a bit of both.
The better you are at understanding prospective clients’ needs and putting those needs first, the more worthwhile your interactions will be with every person that reaches out to your firm.
Below are three ways to make your firm more client-centered.
Respond to Prospective Clients Quickly
When clients reach out to law firms, especially civil attorneys, they are often in the midst of a difficult situation and are looking for professionalism and support. According to the Legal Trends Report, 67% of respondents surveyed said that they wanted an immediate response, 64% wanted a free consultation, and 47% were looking for fixed fees. Prospective clients want to know as quickly as possible whether they have a case and how much it will cost them.
That means that if a prospect reaches out to multiple law firms looking for representation, the firm that responds with the information the client needs quickly and professionally is most likely to secure the client.
Finding ways to follow up with prospects efficiently—so that you can quickly gather essential details of a case—should be a top priority. An online form that gathers pre-screening information and in-office procedures that can quickly route the information to the people who need it can make the difference between securing a new client—or losing out to a competing firm.
Make Your Firm Easy to Work With
Prospective clients often are facing a range of emotions, like anxiety, frustration and even loss and grief. You want to make their experience as smooth and seamless as possible.
For a layperson, knowing what steps to take in a legal process isn’t always easy. It often requires dealing with large amounts of paperwork and documentation, written in a language that they may be unfamiliar with.
And clients typically have the difficult task of keeping up with the details of their case on top of working a full-time job, raising a family, and everything else they’re trying to fit into their lives.
People are busy. The easier you can make it for them to get up to speed, in the most efficient way possible—especially when they’re still considering whether to hire you—the more likely you’ll be able to provide them the support they need without creating an undue burden on them.
Follow Up on Prospects
While it may seem counterintuitive, the vast majority of people who encounter a legal problem are unlikely to follow up on hiring an attorney. Less than a third (29%) of people who experienced a legal problem in 2019 sought any form of legal advice to help them better understand or resolve their problem, according to the World Justice Project.
Many factors impact whether a person hires an attorney. They may not see the value in pursuing their case or they may feel like the legal process is too complicated or the emotional burden is simply too great.
Or maybe they may be just too busy.
Whatever the reason, lawyers play a major role in helping people decide whether to pursue their case—and offering gentle, timely reminders can help keep a case top of mind.
For example, some types of cases may require firm reminders. A statute of limitations/prescriptive period that’s about to run its course is a prime opportunity to reach out to confirm that the person decided not to pursue the case (and that they didn’t just forget about it).
A reminder of next steps may be all that’s needed to get potential clients to hire your firm. This is where client engagement software can help you keep track of key milestones for every potential client so that you can keep your follow-ups organized and timely.
Value Client Relationships Above All Else
People share a lot of intimate information with their lawyer—even before actually hiring one—and that can make them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Aside from reassuring clients about your duty of confidentiality and your overall professionalism, part of your client care should emphasize your human side—both within and outside your office walls—and focus on putting your clients’ emotional needs first.
Finding ways to stay in touch after an initial conversation shows that you’re willing to take an interest in a client’s life and that you have their best interests in mind. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries or other significant milestones provide a good reason to follow up with a contact to stay top of mind for a case or for any future referral opportunities. If you deal with the type of cases that can seriously alter a person’s life, consider having a referral list of mental health professionals you can recommend if you think they might be needed after a case closes.
Using a simple tool such as an automated calendar reminder can help ensure you’re on top of every opportunity to stay in touch and create those human connections that are so essential to building and maintaining client relationships.