Business of Law

Why Solo and Small Law Firms Should Outsource Phone Answering Services

By Sam Schwartz
August 28, 2019

Did you know it costs around $48,000 a year for a legal receptionist?

If you are an attorney, you already know that your phone never stops ringing. Either it is a new client who seeks your legal counsel, existing clients seeking an appointment or a case update, or an attorney trying to reach you for a settlement. Handling these requests in a timely manner is critical to successfully running your firm.

Realistically, it is not possible to answer every call. You are trained to handle cases, build arguments, and work through the complexities of legal work. Most attorneys find they need to outsource phone calls to someone who will answer all their calls, respond to queries, and take messages – helping them deliver great customer service at all hours without needing to hire additional full-time staff.

Outsourcing phone calls for your law firm is a great time and money saver, plus it will improve the return on your marketing efforts. By outsourcing your calls to a phone answering service your law firm will have improved business and profits and here’s why.

1) Lawyers Shouldn’t Be Answering The Phone

If you’re a solo or small law firm, you’re probably helping answer the phones. Phone calls are part of every business, but not every lawyer or employee likes to talk on the phone or is necessarily skilled at it. So, why should you or your employees do something they don't like or aren't good at it? It can waste valuable time and labor while hurting employee morale and your business image. It also creates inconsistencies in your business practices and the customer experience if your call handling is different each time a customer calls. Outsourcing your phone calls can allow you to focus on what you do well and give you more time to grow that part of your business.

2) Attorneys Must Focus on Clients

Consider that it can take your brain up to 45 minutes to refocus on a task after a major interruption. Phone calls are a major interruption, and a phone answering service can help make sure this doesn't happen. Wouldn't it be great to be able to control exactly what types of current or new client calls you are interrupted for, but still return calls within a day and meet your caller's needs? Imagine having a list of people you need to call back and what they need so you can address when you are ready to or delegate appropriately. Outsourcing your phone calls means more time for you and your staff to focus on your clients and limited interruptions to only the most important calls.

As an attorney, you studied legal cases and law, not professional training in customer service. Your time is best spent on casework and your calls are best handled by customer care experts. Answering your firm's phone calls can take a lot of your time and interrupt important work. Instead, subscribing to a phone answering service helps you to save time and focus on actual legal work. In addition, you will avoid paying extra salaries and benefits to in-house staff.

3) Lower Business Expenses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, legal receptionists in the United States are paid an average of $23.37 per hour. If your office is open 5 days a week for 40 hours per week, that means per week, you can expect to pay your legal receptionist $934.80, and per month that equates to at least $3,739.20. Annually, this works out to almost $48,600.  

According to a report from MIT, employers will also have to pay for life insurance ($150) and health coverage ($2,000-$3,000 for single persons; $6,000-$7,2000 for families - http://www.ahrq.gov). Other benefits could include paid time off, dental plans ($240-$650), parental leave, tuition reimbursement, and retirement plans. Indirectly, you may have to spend a lot of money on employee support, office supplies, and team-building exercises.

Basically, costs for a receptionist, or two, will add up, which means more expenses for you.

In contrast, a live receptionist or answering service takes care of their employees’ salary, benefits, training and provides you more guaranteed coverage with consistent call handling. And costs barely a fraction of an in-house receptionist.  Reception services can also answer calls on “rollover” meaning the call rings perhaps 2 times into your office before the receptionist team picks up for you.

4) Build Up Your Law Firm’s Reputation

American businesses lose $62 billion on average for failing to provide great customer service. This shows how important it is to provide excellent customer service both during and after business hours. If you want to build your law firm’s reputation, one of the first steps is to begin using a legal answering service.

Remember - legal services is still a services industry.  Any business with customers is in the “people” business. If you make it obvious to callers from the start that you are in the people business you are much more likely to win their business and get positive reviews and referrals.

5) Improve Marketing ROI

A sure way to waste your marketing dollars is to not answer the phone, send callers to voicemail, or do anything that leaves the caller anything but confident that you are the best firm to help them. 70% of business phone calls come from digital marketing channels. Companies invest 93% of budget into advertising but only 4% on handling the calls, when calls are proven to convert 10-15x higher than website visits.  That’s because retaining legal services is a big decision, and it demands a lot of trust. It’s much better to build that trust over the phone.  If your phone is always answered and your call handling is optimized, you will see immediate improvements in your marketing efforts.

Conclusion

Legal answering services can handle calls, answer client queries, perform intake, schedule consultations, and provide information about the firm. They also take notes, enter client details into web forms which connect to CRM tools (customer relationship management tools), and ensure that calls are made to clients when it is necessary. In short, your legal practice will look like a full-fledged enterprise that can give even the larger, successful law firms a run for their money.

Overall, if you don't have the personnel, the ability, and/or resources to handle the phone calls that you are getting (whether it's because of volume, or diversity, or infrastructure), then focus on what you are good at and leave the phone calls to a legal answering service.

Remember, too many solo and small firm lawyers are overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. So, create practices that are easier to manage, more profitable, and much more fulfilling by outsourcing your reception services.

About Abby Connect

Abby Connect is a customer care firm that offers live receptionist and answering services. Since 2005, this family-owned Nevadan business has continued to bring the best customer care to its clients' customers. Abby is well known for its unique and premium reception services that are used by individuals, small businesses, and medium-sized enterprises. With a focus on cultivating productive and rewarding relationships for everyone involved, Abby Connect has created a niche for itself in the domain of high-quality virtual receptionist services. Abby Connect is the #1 in Legal Answering Services (2018) according to Clutch, a B2B research firm.

Find out how Abby Connect can help your solo or small law firm by calling us at 877-303-5757 for an answering solutions consultation and a complimentary two-week trial.

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