If you’re like most lawyers, one of your top business goals is to grow your law firm. Law firm expansion means a more profitable law practice and the ability to change the world for the better. Of course, it’s often easier said than done. Growing a law practice takes time, and that’s something most lawyers don’t have a lot of.
Practicing law is a demanding job, with relentless deadlines, demanding clients and never-ending to-dos. There’s always something on deck, and there are never enough hours in the day. This is especially true for solo and small firm lawyers, who are tasked with juggling a full caseload while simultaneously trying to run a successful law firm. Doing it all and doing it well can often feel like an impossible task.
Fortunately, there are options available that can help ease overload and reduce the administrative burden solo and small firm lawyers face. One easy way to accomplish this is to outsource nonlegal work on a full- or part-time basis. By delegating routine tasks, you’re able to focus on doing the work that truly matters: solving your clients’ problems.
Outsource your firm’s receptionist services
One of the easiest functions to delegate is reception and intake services. In-office law firm receptionists aren’t typically available to answer phone calls 24/7. Because potential clients often choose firms based on their initial responsiveness, relying on an outsourced answering service to handle calls full time or during off hours simply makes sense. By outsourcing the handling of incoming calls, you’re able to increase your law firm’s responsiveness to new and current clients and remove this consequential yet tedious task from your plate.
There are many virtual receptionist services available that provide live telephone answering services for lawyers so you have lots of options to choose from. Determining the best fit will depend on your firm’s specific needs, the cost and the types of services provided. Some companies offer services specifically for lawyers, while others also assist other types of businesses. But don’t rule out the latter since those providers may nevertheless provide the functionality required at the right price.
Before we dive into the tools available, understand that because you’ll entrust your law firm’s data to a third party, your ethical obligations will require you to vet the services provider thoroughly. This duty includes ensuring you understand how your firm’s information will be handled by that company and who will have access to the data.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the more popular virtual receptionist options available to lawyers. We’ll consider legal-specific services first. Note that prices will be listed if available on the company’s website.
First, there’s Answering Legal, a live telephone answering service that includes bilingual receptionists. The service can be used 24/7 or only for overflow calls, such as when your office is closed or your firm’s in-office receptionist is on the other line. In addition to providing intake services and transferring live calls, appointments also can be scheduled with potential clients. Pricing starts with the “Solo” level, which includes 50 minutes at $3.55 per minute with 30% overage protection. You can find more pricing options here.
Another legal-specific option to consider is LexReception. Bilingual receptionists, along with legal intake and outbound calls for lead intake follow-up, are available. LexReception integrates with a number of law practice management providers and business apps, including Slack and Salesforce. Pricing starts at $325 per month for 150 minutes with a $75 setup fee. You can learn more about pricing here.
Alert Communications is another virtual receptionist service for lawyers. In addition to handling calls and general client intake, it offers mass tort and class action intake services. Integrations with several business and legal tools are offered as well. Pricing is unavailable on the website and varies depending on the services your firm needs.
Other virtual assistant options
Now let’s look at a few services that are popular with lawyers even though they’re not legal-specific.
First, there’s Smith.ai, which offers 24/7 virtual receptionists who handle answering calls, client intake and scheduling consultation appointments. Smith.ai integrates with a very large number of software providers, including law practice management, CRM, billing and many general business apps. Virtual receptionist pricing starts at $240 per month for 30 calls, and all pricing plans can be found here.
Next up, Ruby Receptionists. This service offers 24/7 receptionist services, and bilingual options are available. Calls are screened, transferred, or forwarded. Receptionists will handle client intake and can make appointments as well. A few integrations to both legal and non-legal tools are available, and pricing starts at $219 per month for up to 50 minutes of calls. All pricing plans are available here.
Finally, there’s Posh Virtual Receptionists, a virtual receptionist service that covers incoming calls 24/7. Spanish-speaking receptionists are available, and calls can be outsourced to Posh as much or as little as you’d like. Several integrations are available for both nonlegal and law practice management apps, and pricing starts at $54 per month for 0 receptionist minutes included, with calls billed at $1.60 per minute. From there, the number of receptionist minutes increases with each pricing level, and calls are billed only if you exceed the receptionist minutes included in that plan. You’ll find pricing information here.
No matter what your firm’s virtual receptionist needs are, you’re sure to find a match with one of the companies listed above. Take advantage of any free trials or demos offered, and make sure you understand how the pricing plans work so you can choose the one that works best for your needs. Once you’ve settled on the service, rest easy knowing that your bases are covered and your firm will never miss an important call.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-based attorney, author and journalist, and she is Senior Director, SME and External Education at MyCase, a company that offers legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She also is co-author of Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for ABAJournal.com and Above the Law; has authored hundreds of articles for other publications; and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.