March/April 2020

Product Watch

Cut Out Calendaring Frustration with Calendly

Heidi S. Alexander

Scheduling is one of my greatest frustrations, and I know loads of attorneys who feel precisely the same. If you manage a practice, you know all too well how much of your time is spent handling administrative work rather than billing time.

Consider this scenario (but don’t let it happen to you):

“Dear Potential Client,

Thank you for reaching out to me about my services. I understand you are seeking representation in a family law matter. As a first step, let’s schedule an initial consultation. I can speak to you by phone on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. or Friday at 10:00 a.m.”

Later ...

“Dear Attorney,

Thank you for your response to my inquiry about your services. I do need representation; however, I am not available on Thursday or Friday. Can we speak on another day?”

Later ...

“Dear Potential Client,

How about next Monday at 11:00 a.m.?”

Later ...

“Dear Attorney,

Next Monday doesn’t work. What about Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.?”

Later ...

“Dear Potential Client,

I’m sorry, Tuesday does not work. Would Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. work?”

Later ...

No response from Potential Client.

Later ...

“Dear Potential Client,

Are you still interested in consulting with me?”

Later ... 

“Dear Attorney,

I’ve already booked time with another attorney using their sleek online scheduling tool.”

You can very easily avoid the refrain above by using a calendaring tool. While there are many of these gems available, I’m going to detail just one of them for you in this column.

Enter Calendly

As stated on the homepage of its website, “Calendly helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails.” Problem solved!

Is this a legal-specific tool? No. Does it need to be? No. Everyone encounters scheduling problems, and attorneys are no different (even though we like to believe we are).

The Big Picture

Calendly enables invitees to book meeting times with you online. Calendly’s simple user interface allows nearly anyone (with any level of technological competency) to schedule an appointment. All they need to do is click on a link and choose a day and time that works for them. Once an invitee selects a meeting time, the meeting is automatically added to your calendar. There is no work on your part.

Already, you’ve cut out a few extraneous emails from your day. 

The Details

Calendly works with Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCloud calendars. The first step is to connect your account to one (or even six) of your calendars. An invitee may now schedule appointments with you based on your calendar availability. But, if you are cognizant of your time, you may want to limit the times when someone could schedule with you. Say you only want to take meetings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon. You can set your availability to this recurring schedule. 

Ever get stuck with back-to-back meetings? It’s stressful. Without time to adequately wrap up one meeting and transition to the next, client representation may even suffer. Calendly allows you to include customized buffer times between meetings to avoid this situation. Furthermore, if you want to ensure time for work and know that you’ll be fried after three meetings a day, then you can set a cap to three meetings per day. 

Of course, not all meetings are the same. You might have a 20-minute consultation for prospective clients, an hourlong in-person consultation for new clients, an hourlong video conferencing for regular clients and other varieties. You can set up multiple “meeting types” in Calendly, all with their own specifications (i.e., buffer times, availability, meeting caps). 

This is all presented to the client either via one unique link or embedded in your website. Your link can even be customized. For example, my link is www.calendly.com/heidialexander. I always include this link in my email signature and especially if I ever set an out-of-office message. It drastically reduces the number of back-and-forth emails. When someone clicks on the link, they are presented with and can choose from any available “meeting types.” After selecting a meeting type, they can select the time and date that works for them, and enter details including name, email and any other information—all customizable. 

Here’s where the magic occurs. The attendee is then provided with an option to download the event to add to his or her calendar. The attendee receives email confirmation of the meeting. The meeting is automatically added to your calendar, and you receive an email notification that this person has scheduled a meeting with you on a certain date and time, along with any other information you have requested. 

Calendly provides the ability to customize notifications to thus automate reminders in advance of the meeting. This drastically reduces appointment no-shows. When an attendee receives a meeting reminder, they are also presented with the option to reschedule or cancel. If that happens, the above process begins anew, the event is automatically removed from your calendar and you receive email notification of the cancellation or rescheduled event. Again, this requires no work on your part.

If you only want an invitee to book a certain type of meeting, you can provide them with a unique link to that particular meeting such as a “20-minute prospective client consultation.” See this link for an example.

Finally, Calendly also integrates with a number of tools such as Stripe and PayPal to provide payment options after scheduling, as well as automation tools like Zapier to connect with services such as Zoom, GoToMeeting and Google Analytics.

Calendly in a Firm Environment

While I know many attorneys who use Calendly for their individual appointments, there is also a “Team” solution. Teams feature individual scheduling as well as team scheduling with multiple members and automatic assignment to team members. Your Calendly page or website can display a team-wide page with all attorneys or professionals to choose from or automatically distribute meetings based on availability and priority. 

For example, a multimember firm might embed Calendly scheduling on its website for a prospective client to schedule an initial 20-minute intake call, which is then routed to whoever in the firm is first available, and/or another embedded scheduling page with the option to select a specific attorney and view their particular availability.

When utilizing Calendly’s link feature, firms can customize pages with their own branding. 

It’s a No-Brainer

Calendly, like other online scheduling tools such as FindTime, Acuity, YouCanBookMe and Microsoft Bookings, is simple to set up and implement. With the majority of consumers finding lawyers through their mobile device, deploying a Calendly link or embedding it into your website presents an easy and effective method to convert more prospective clients. Plus, add the benefit of reduced interruptions via calls and emails, and online scheduling is a no-brainer for your practice.

Heidi S. Alexander

Heidi S. Alexander is the deputy director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she helps manage organization operations and leads the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program. That program provides free and confidential practice management assistance, guidance in implementing new law office technologies, and methods to attain healthy and sustainable practices. She is the author of Evernote as A Law Practice Tool, serves as vice co-chair of the ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board and founded the ABA’s Women of Legal Technology initiative. heidi@lclma.org