- As lawyers, our mission is to aid the human experience, which is a superpower in and of itself.
In November 2013, I was 27 years old, and I had just been admitted to the Massachusetts Bar. Although it was a joyous day full of relief and promise, it was also coupled with immense fear of the unknown. Before graduating from law school, I had decided I would open an immigration law practice immediately after passing the bar. On my first day as a lawyer, I signed a lease for an office on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. Although that may sound impressive, my office was a converted closet, and I barely had enough room for a desk and a chair.
To make matters worse, I didn’t have any clients and had very little money for overhead. Before starting my own firm, my only legal experience was working as a paralegal and a law clerk.
While I waited for my first client to hire me, I worked as a contract attorney and a substitute teacher. I doubted myself. What if, despite meticulous planning, I wouldn’t be successful?
Luckily, I soon had the chance to say those magical words that I had dreamed of saying to a client for so many long years: “Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Attorney Emily Amara Gordon.” As I stared in awe at their signed fee agreement with the name of my law firm on the letterhead, it finally dawned on me: I had an operational law practice. Now, more than ever, I needed it to survive. It was no longer just about me.
I often reflect on that moment as my go moment, my go time. I needed to find a way to pivot from an impostor mindset to a success and growth mindset.
Then I had an epiphany. I realized that every human being has a unique set of skills, and I needed to find mine. I needed to find my superpower.
What is my superpower? What am I good at, what am I passionate about? What makes me different? Then it hit me. Technology was my superpower and my key to success. It would be how I would level the playing field and make up for my weaknesses.
Are you recently licensed, wanting to open your own law practice, but without funding or staff? Are you a new associate who wants to elevate your firm to the next level? Or perhaps you have been in practice for years and are endlessly seeking to find that secret sauce to motivate your clients to rave about your legal services to their family and friends? Wherever you may be in your journey, legal tech is your affordable solution! Now, let’s talk about how you can use legal tech to provide quality customer service in a way that is both affordable and accessible.
Superb customer service should be fundamental to any law practice, and it does not have to cost you a lot. The heart of customer service is effective communication. How can you use technology to help you deliver such excellent customer service that you won’t be able to keep up with all the five-star Google reviews you’ll receive? You don’t have to shock your operating account in achieving your customer service goals. Here are two affordable tools you can implement now: practice management software with a client portal and virtual receptionists.
My long-term relationship with practice management software started when I realized that I needed software that would allow my clients to be self-sufficient. Without a legal assistant, I needed a practice management software program to tell my clients their court dates and share case documents with them upon request. Having an automation-heavy practice to make up for a lack of staff is a great superpower.
Practice management software is an accessible and affordable way to manage a law practice. The client portal feature of practice management software will help you elevate the client experience. It’s a vehicle for effective and accessible communication between clients, lawyers and staff. Client portals encourage clients to be self-sufficient, which is an essential ingredient in the recipe for happy and healthy attorney-client relationships.
Lawyers deserve time to truly unplug. We should take this time for our own health, and for the health of our staff. The client portal helps maintain boundaries. Our clients can communicate with us and work on their cases at a time that is convenient for them, while we can return their messages and do their legal work at a time that is convenient for us.
Why not just use email to communicate with your clients? First, client portals are encrypted, whereas email generally is not unless you take additional steps to add encryption. Why not use technology that has this feature already built in? The client portal is an easy way to keep communications in one place with your case documents, deadlines and notes. This keeps your cases organized, efficient and well-documented. Additionally, unless you choose to turn on notifications, you view client communications when you choose to do so, alleviating the temptation to constantly check email.
Virtual receptionist services are an affordable way to make sure your phones are always answered so you can offer reliable customer service to all callers. In today’s Amazon next-day delivery culture, clients do not want to leave voicemails and wait for a call back. If they are taking the time to call your law firm, they want your office to answer their calls.
Many virtual receptionist services now integrate with practice management software so you don’t have to manually enter the call details. This will save you administrative time and create an automated audit trail. There are also features that allow you to mark whether an action needs to be taken on the call. This reduces the likelihood of forgetting to return calls and therefore elevates the client experience.
Another brilliant feature of virtual receptionist services is the outgoing call feature. You can send your virtual receptionist a request to return a customized phone call on your behalf. Meet the client where they are. If the client calls, try to respond to their inquiry with a phone call. While this can be challenging if you are busy or don’t like to talk by phone, virtual receptionists can break down these communication barriers while creating an automated record of your outgoing calls in one fell swoop. Now, what will you do with all your free time?
Even if you have dedicated staff answering your phones, let’s talk about how you may still need a virtual receptionist without realizing it, and how these game-changing services could help you make your money back.
What happens when your in-house receptionist goes on vacation or takes a lunch break? Do calls go to voicemail, or does someone else cover your phones? Do you answer the phone? Who is answering your phones on a holiday or after hours? Virtual receptionist services are an easy way to bridge the gap and address overflow calls. With a virtual receptionist, you will very likely convert more leads and deliver white-glove service to your clients while alleviating pressure on your staff. These combined enhancements should increase your profit margins, and poof— the virtual receptionist service magically paid for itself!
Lean into technology to bring your practice and your lifestyle to the next level. No matter your strengths, interests and goals, find your superpower! And if you are doubting whether you have one, just remember: As lawyers, our mission is to aid the human experience, which is a superpower in and of itself.