Over the last 20 years, we’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of attorneys nationwide, and are proud to say that we helped some of them become among the fastest-growing law firms in the nation.
What we know from that experience is that there’s a big difference between the law firms that continue to struggle and the ones that really take off. There are several key differences, but one of the most important has to do with the client intake process.
Even though we’re two decades deep into the 21st century, many law firms still do not have a formal intake system. Intake is typically assigned to a receptionist and an assistant serving as backup.
We can tell immediately if a law firm has a true intake protocol or not, because when we secret shop a law firm — which we do for every firm that attends a Rainmaker Retreat — oftentimes what happens is that the receptionist answers the phone with, “Law firm; please hold.” They come back on the line 30, 60, 90 seconds later and ask, “Are you calling about a new case or are you an existing client?” That firm does not have an intake process.
Worse yet, if we get a paralegal like we got just recently when we called a law firm posing as a potential client, they sound completely annoyed that we bothered to call. They obviously don’t have an intake process.
What we’ve found interesting is that the law firms that do have an intake department do not see it as an intake department; they view it as a group of people in the law firm who happen to take calls. The purpose of having an intake process is to transform the old culture of being an intake center to having a bona fide sales team.
This is because an intake center is basically for taking orders. And you don’t want order takers in your law firm; you want rainmakers – people who are specifically trained and incentivized to move people from being a potential client to being a paying client.
But it is a true culture shift since most lawyers are loathe to be associated with anything that smacks of “sales.” But it’s a shift you must make if you are ever going to grow your client list and your bottom line.
It’s 2020. Your thinking should be that your intake department is actually a sales department that brings in new clients so that the rest of the people in the firm have a job. If you can make that leap, then you will begin to see how much more effective a sales-oriented culture is in bringing new clients into the fold.
To take your law firm from struggle to success in 2020, consider attending a Rainmaker Retreat, our two-day law firm marketing boot camp. Click on Upcoming Retreats to find a session that works for you.