How Attorneys Handle Incoming Calls

How attorneys handle incoming calls has some surprises

The Phone’s Ringing! (Should We Answer It?)

This is part two in a series about marketing your law firm. It’s based on a recent attorney survey conducted by CallRail. In this post we shares insights about how attorneys handle incoming calls from prospects and clients.

Clients Prefer the Phone

When clients contact law firms, almost half (46%) prefer to make that contact by phone. This is true for the initial outreach, when the caller is a prospective client. It is also true for ongoing communication when the individual has become a client. It normally takes five conversations before a decision is made to become a client.

With nearly half of prospective new clients preferring the telephone, what should you do?  First, make sure your website offers a phone number that is easy to find in multiple places. Your website should also display an email address. This will help you capture the 27% of clients who reach out by email and prefer to conduct business this way.

Answering Incoming Calls

So, we know that almost half of legal clients or prospective clients prefer the phone. But how are those calls handled by attorneys?  The good news is that 43% of law firms employ a live receptionist to answer incoming calls. This conveys a positive message that the firm values the call. It also creates a professional image for the firm and its attorneys. Whether you are a solo attorney, small partnership, or a larger firm – any attorney can employ a live receptionist or boutique answering service to achieve these results.

Surprisingly, 20% of attorneys send incoming calls directly to voicemail. Perhaps they are too busy to answer each call personally due to heavy caseloads. Or, they could be trying single-handedly to juggle all the tasks of running a legal practice.

Another 34% of attorneys use an automated answering service or system to answer incoming calls. However, we’re not sure that this is a better option than being sent straight to voicemail. That decision probably depends on what happens to the calls once they are answered.

Returning Incoming Calls is Important

According to the survey, it takes an average of five hours for an attorney to respond to a message from an incoming call. Five hours doesn’t seem so long, until you consider that individuals are often contacting a lawyer for a stressful reason. Or it may be during a time of hardship such as a divorce, serious accident, or even criminal charges. For individuals in these circumstances, five hours may be too long.

While nearly all attorneys (99%) feel clients are usually satisfied with this response time, it is still costing them business due to the time-sensitivity of legal work. In fact, slow response times lose an average of 46 clients each year, which costs law offices an average of $200,000 in annual revenue.  Is this revenue that any attorney can afford to sacrifice?

Up Next

In our next post we’ll explore marketing expenses and the challenges of certain online and offline marketing techniques. Join us right here!

Statistics and data can lead us to insights that may spur us to change a process or modify a strategy based on new data. Special thanks to CallRail for much of the data referenced here from their December 2021 survey of 508 law firms in the U.S. with 1 to 999 lawyers and other employees.