As the first contact or gatekeepers to your firm, your support staff plays a vital role in pitching your practice to potential clients.
They are the first ones with whom potential clients speak, and therefore, they provide those all-important first impressions. Your receptionists should be caring, sympathetic people who are willing to take some time with each caller, understanding that the first call to a law firm is often an emotional and difficult step for most people to take.
Provide your staff with a script of how they should respond to callers’ frequently asked questions. Once a month, listen to one of their calls so that you are confident that they are providing the information accurately and in the manner and with the tone that you would like.
My support staff has been wonderful in first explaining the various divorce options to callers and convincing them to come in to hear more from our attorneys. A caller recently cold- called our office. My receptionist so accurately and enthusiastically explained the divorce process options that, when I sat down to actually do the consultation, he interrupted me with specific questions about how a collaborative divorce worked. By the time I spoke with him, because of the information that my receptionist had already provided to him, he had researched collaborative practice and was ready to proceed collaboratively in his divorce. My receptionist certainly made my job easy! This is your end goal in training your staff to deliver your legal services pitch.
On another occasion, my paralegal was attending a Pilates mat class, and another student complained that her husband had just filed for divorce. The woman was distraught; she fretted aloud that her husband would drag her through the court system and try to take “full custody” of their children. Apparently, she had been divorced before and that is what her first husband had put her through.
After listening for some time and letting the woman vent her frustrations, my paralegal told her how sorry she was, that she worked for a family law attorney and that a litigated war was not her only option. By this time, the entire mat class was listening with rapt attention. My paralegal, who had just attended an introductory training on the collaborative divorce process, knowledgeably explained the various options available to folks considering divorce, stressing that the best interests of the children, rather than destroying the other spouse, should be at the forefront of the couple’s thoughts. She clarified that the collaborative team would make sure that the primary interests of both spouses were met and that the spouses would learn invaluable communication and co-parenting skills that would help them going forward and reduce the possibility of post-judgment litigation. At the end of the class, two other women asked my paralegal for her card!
My associate attorney, Lori, had a similar experience when she accidentally dropped her business cards out of her wallet while on the checkout line at Target. The man in line behind her bent down to pick them up and noticed that she was an attorney at a family law firm. He wasn’t involved in a domestic dispute. He was a financial professional who specialized as a trial expert in divorces. He had recently had a heart attack due to “occupational stress,” and had heard about this “new collaborative method” that was supposed to be less stressful for the spouses and for the professionals.
He asked Lori about her card (of course, it says that she is a collaborative attorney), and she explained that she worked for a family law firm that focuses on out-of-court divorce resolutions. Once they had both paid for their items, they sat down at the coffee shop at the front of the store, specifically so that Lori could answer his questions. Lori explained the collaborative process and that it would mean that the professional would no longer be subjected to an opposing counsel’s stressful cross examinations while on the stand in front of the judge. He attended the very next collaborative training, and when one of his clients needed a divorce attorney, he recommended our firm.
Even my IT guy, Bill, understands the collaborative process and pitches it whenever possible. He attended a Star Trek convention, and when a Vulcan friend mentioned that his daughter wasn’t sure if her baby’s father was a Romulan or a Klingon, Bill explained that the collaborative process would work for a paternity case. We like to say that the collaborative divorce process should be the final frontier for domestic disputes!
Ensure that your support staff is experienced with their versions of your pitch. Just because they are not lawyers doesn’t mean they can’t market your firm as well as you can.
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