Episode 159 – (3 of 3) Become A Prestigious & Respected Law Firm In Your Metro & Practice Area(s)

Episode 159 – (3 of 3) Become A Prestigious & Respected Law Firm In Your Metro & Practice Area(s)

The 3rd (and most important part of the series) gives you strategies to overcome price objections, follow up with potentials who need to ‘think it over’, ‘sleep on it’, or are talking to your competitors. At this stage of the game, you’ve invested hundreds of dollars of marketing to get potentials to this point. Good phone scripts and follow up is critical to get your retention percentage above 60%.


This is the third and final part in the 3 part series on how to become a prestigious law firm, how to become the preeminent, most respected attorney in your metro and in your practice area. In part 3, we’re going to talk about once someone has searched in Google and searched the web and visited sites become convinced enough to go to your website, then gone to your website, looked at your credentials, read articles etc., and made that fear-filled decision to call you and they call your firm, what happens? This is part 3.

Do you fumble the ball and have an answering service answer the phone? Do you not answer the phone, which happens in many, many law firms, or do you have scripts and professional people that are really engaging and get a lot of callers to become potential clients and do that initial consultation? Do you have methods to get them into the office or to sign them up over the phone? Do you have methods to follow up with them to turn this caller that took such a long time and such a long effort to get to this point to retain you, pay you money, and become your client, which is at the end of the day what you want. That’s what we’re going to go into in part 3.

We’ve already covered, how to work with Google, review sites, how to position yourself as the respectable prestigious attorney and law firm online so that people will see you and run into your reviews and see different information about you and come to your site. Then we covered once they’re on your website, what can you do to make sure that they become convinced that you are the person to call for help on their case. The phone call, or the email to your firm. Most law firms, you’d be really shocked to know this, they don’t answer the phone 24×7. Most law firms don’t even answer the phone during business hours all day. There are still a lot of traditional firms that take lunches or close early on Friday, and that’s wonderful.

But you’re missing out on the clients. At the very least, you’ve got to have your phone answered. If you can’t do it, get an answering service. If you can’t do it, have someone else answer the phone. If you’re not around and you’re in court, fine, get that phone answered because people call in. If no one answers the phone, you know what they do, they hang up the call and they call someone else. It’s so easy to do nowadays. It takes seconds. There are many services I’ve called for and other people I know have called for, I call, no one answers, I hang up; I call, no one answers, I hang up. Sometimes it’s the fifth call before someone answers. I’ve called plumbers, I’ve called lawyers, I’ve called landscapers, you’ll be amazed.

People don’t want to leave messages, they want help right now. If you don’t give it to them right now, they’re gone. IBM did a study several years ago, they called it the Golden Hour. They saw the conversion rates of people that called different companies and they saw if calls were not picked up, the conversion rate fell by like 70%. If someone called and did leave a message, which is much less prevalent nowadays, if they were gotten back to within 5 minutes, they were 7 times as likely to buy that company’s services or hire that person than if they waited more than 5 minutes. They got to 10 minutes, it was less; 15 minutes, less. An hour was the drop-off point. After an hour, forget a conversion, it just went down to as bad as if you didn’t answer the phone. People are impatient, they don’t want to wait. I hope I’ve conveyed that to you now.

Now that you’ve answered the phone, how do you answer the phone? Here’s another problem. Most law firms answer the phone like this. “Law Office”, or, “Law firm of A, B & C. This is Mellissa, how may I help you?” “Yes, I’m calling about a so and so case”, “Oh, Attorney Smith is not here. Do you want to leave a message”, or, “Attorney Smith is not here. Do you want to call back?” So that’s deadly. If you have someone do that, you’re pushing them away. They’ve taken the time to call you. They’ve gathered up their nerve to call. Like I said in the last few podcasts, most people have very little experience with the legal profession. They are rarely in court thank goodness, they don’t get divorced everyday, they don’t have someone die everyday and leaving estate plan, they don’t have immigration problems everyday, they don’t have DUIs everyday.

All these things are pretty rare thankfully in most people’s lives and calling a law firm is scary and a lot of lawyers and firms do not treat people well when they call. I’ve personally experienced this many times, even calling for the simplest thing. So have that phone answered but what is said on the phone, who’s answering? Is it grumpy person answering the phone? Is your secretary having a bad day and being pissy to callers. Do they just say, “Law Office”, all these things just push away clients. If you call somewhere and they say to you, “So and so is not in, just call back later”, are you going to call back later? No, and neither are your potential clients, they’re not going to do it.

You should never ever have that said. If you’re in court all the time, fine, have the script. So here’s a much better script. “Hi, this is Mary from the Law Office of A, B & C. Thank you so much for calling. Do you have a legal question or something we can help with?” And the caller says, “Oh yeah, I’m calling because I was arrested for a DUI two nights ago”, okay. The second part of the script now, always immediately start with empathy, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry to hear that”. “I was hit by a car”, “Oh I’m so sorry to hear that”; “My wife served me with divorce papers”, “Oh my God, that’s terrible. I’m sorry to hear that”; “My father is in hospital and we don’t know what to do about his estate”, “Oh I’m so sorry to hear that”. Show empathy.

Then engage the person in conversation, “Would you mind telling me a few details about what’s going on?” We are not asking the person answering the phone to practice law but we are asking them to gather details about the case because this will help you craft your response in a much more tailored way to that person besides saying “Please hold”, or, “Call back later”, or that kind of thing. That’s what you want because again, people hire people, and people work with people they like and they know and they trust, and if you’re a jerk, if you’re pushing them away, if you’re being nasty, if you’re just very cold to them, why would they want to work with you? They wouldn’t. You have to understand. This is very important.

I hope my tone is not condescending but it’s an honest tone. You have to make sure your phones are answered right. You may think your phones are answered right but you would be shocked to know that most law firm phones are not answered well at all. We’ve mystery shopped many firms and the people that say, “Oh, our phones are great and Suzy answers the phone. She’s great”, you’ll be surprised when you actually record them and mystery shop them, how many bad days they have or how mean and nasty or rude and all that they are to people, you’ll be shocked and you’re losing a lot of money if you don’t have scripts in place and you’re not mystery shopping your people and you’re not demanding that X and Y sit on the phone in a particular way. So back to the script to show empathy.

I ask a few questions about the case. Get some details. Here’s the magic. So you’ll say, “Oh my God, this and that happened to you. All right, based on what you’re telling me, I have two options for you”, let’s say it’s a two persons firm, “We have Attorney Smith. He’s had a lot of experience in cases very similar to yours. He’s our most experienced person. Yes, he does charge a bit more but he’s for those complex cases that really need a lot of attention. We also have Attorney Jones. She’s also great, she’s a little bit less experienced than Smith. She handles a lot of the cases, she doesn’t cost as much but she’s still an excellent advocate, really great, very personable, very easy to work with.

Which one do you think will be better for you to talk to?” You’re giving the person a choice and you’re setting both of these attorneys up. The person has been told that they’re nice, they’re wonderful, they’re experienced and they’re told one is more expensive than the other, they’re told one handles complex cases; the other handles more simple cases. The person is self-selecting. They can choose which one they want. The higher level attorney will get the juicier cases for higher fees and have less price-resistance; the regular attorney, maybe not the partner, wants to get cases but they’ll handle the more run-of-the-mill ones and their prices are less and the person already feels like they’re saving by going with that person. That’s one great way to position it.

Let’s say you’re solo or you’re the only attorney there, you still want to have the people answering the phone billed you up and they can do that with a script. Based on what you told me about your case, I’m going to have you talk to our attorney, Attorney Smith. She’s wonderful, very empathetic, and great on the phone. She has 11 years experience with these kinds of cases, she’s handled maybe even thousand cases like this. I’m going to put you on hold for a second and let me get her on the line. Would that be okay?” The person is built up and they are expecting a really great person to come on the phone, they feel cared for, they feel empathized with, sympathized with.

You’re going to have a much better interaction on the phone, you’re going to hear it in the prospect’s voice when they get on the phone with you. They’re going to be so much better, they’re not going to say, “Yes, I just want to know how much you charge”, and they’re never ever going to bring that up because you’ve been positioned so well. Other thing is that the secretary or the person answering the phone can bring up, “Oh, Mrs. Smith is board-certified, which means that she’s got extra training on how to handle family law cases”, or, “Mrs. Smith has been trained on the very same methods police use to do a DUI arrest or breath test” and that kind of stuff. “Mrs. Smith has been certified by the estate planning council of Nevada and she’s got a lot of experience”, whatever it is. Build the person up, then transfer them.

I’m telling you, you’re going to hear so much better people on the phone; you’re not going to have people tire kicking and bothering you and harassing you and just mistreating you, you’re going to get that respect that you’re looking for and you’re going to get retained far more often just by having the simple script. Let’s say you do the consult now with the person. Not everyone’s going to want to hire you right then, so you’re going to get a couple of responses. Here’s the next step of the diagnosis. You do an initial consult, you’ll hear either “Well, I got to talk to my wife”, “I got to talk to my husband”, “I got to think about it”, “I got to sleep on it”, “I have to pray on it”, “I’m talking to several other attorneys, so let me get back to you”, so that’s one thing you may hear. That’s like a stage 1 call.

What do most attorneys do? Nothing. “Okay, well I’m here if you need me, call back”. Do you have any follow up? Do you call that person later? Do you have your admin call that person? Do you email that person? Do you capture any info about them? So don’t be of the attitude if they want me, they’ll hire me because that’s the bad attitude and you’re missing out on a lot of people if you do that. Sometimes people are just not ready to make a decision today. I mean you as an attorney know this, you want to consider the facts and think about stuff and take time and I don’t think rush to decisions so why would the potential clients rush to decisions?

But if someone followed up with you and give you continually good stuff and kept pace with you and all that and emailed and maybe called, not enough to harass you but enough to continue to inform you and help you and answer questions, you’ll be much more likely to work with that kind of person. You know you would. Same thing goes with potential clients, so you got to follow up with them. Ask them on the phone, “I know when you were speaking to the admin or when we were speaking, your most important issue about your case was X”, this leads them to a super-duper question I want you to ask from now on, with all your consults no matter what happens. Tell me, Mr. So and So, what is the single most important aspect of your case that you’ve got to have resolved above all others.

Let’s say it’s a divorce case, “I had 3 children, I can’t lose custody of them because I’ll die. They’re my life, my children”, or, “I got a DUI. If I lose my driver’s license, I’m dead. I got to get to work, I got to take the kids to school. If I can’t do that, I’m dead in the water. My license is the most important thing”, or, “I was injured at work, workers comp case, I can’t work, I can’t lift things and that’s my job. What am I going to do and how am I going to get through even if I do get compensation?” Or, “My mother is in hospice and she’s in a pass and she has a new husband, she got remarried, they have kids, I don’t want those kids taken all the estate money because the house was supposed to go to me. You ask this most important question and here’s why.

When you ask that, the person is going to pause and say, “This person’s really listening to me”. They’re going to give you the answer. You’re going to keep that answer on the side because when you follow up with them, you now have a great excuse to call or having a secretary call. “Hi, this is Jane from Attorney Smith’s office. Attorney Smith there was one question you had about X that was more important than anything else in your case. He’s done some extra research on that and he has some additional information from you. Give our office a call at 1800 whatever and he’s prepared to discuss that with you”. If you say that kind of thing, you’re inspiring major curiosity and you’re showing the person you really care and you did some extra research, which is easy to do, and you’ve found some additional information.

It’s a great excuse to get that person to call you back instead of you having to chase them and you’ve got more stuff to talk about. Now you have a second conversation or a second whack at them, much more likely to get them to retain you. It’s very important to ask that. Other things to ask is simple stuff. Maybe you’ve written a book on such and such or maybe you have some information or you have case notes on the consult that you did. “By the way, Mr. Smith, I’ve taken some notes on what we talked about today. I’d like to get them sent over to you so you have a recap of what we talked about and it’ll help you make your decision. What’s your best email address”, or, “What’s your best home address? I’m going to get them out in the mail to you today”, no obligation. “Oh thanks! That’s great”.

Or, “I’ve written a book on DUI defense”, or, “I’ve written a book on family law or estate planning or immigration, that’s on Amazon. It usually costs $15 but what I’ll do is I’m going to send you a free copy because I think you need it and it’ll help you to figure out what to do”, “Oh thank you”, “What’s your best email”, “What’s your best home address”, “What’s your phone number”. Get this info so you could follow up with them. It’s very important. So, you want to find a way to follow up with somebody. You want to have an excuse for doing it so you don’t feel achy, you don’t feel like you’re bothering them, harassing them and bugging them. You could always call someone once and say, “Just calling to see if you have any other questions, if your situation changed, what else can we do for you?” There’s always that excuse.

Another excuse is the most important question, that’s a great way to call and get someone to call you back instead of you chasing them. You can also email the person. Helpful articles, a summary of your initial consultation, case notes, strategies, all of that stuff. All that information helps, it’s rare that people are going to take that info and bring it to another attorney and hire them instead. That information really conceal the deal when people need to think about stuff and take time. I’ve seen there’s really two kinds of law; there’s immediate problems like “I got arrested”, that kind of stuff, and then there is everything else that can wait, patent, application, divorce doesn’t have to be file today, bankruptcy can always wait another week, injury case, people are famous for delaying on that kind of stuff.

Most of law is not immediate and people can wait. They don’t have to make their decisions today. Even other kinds of law that are more immediate, sometimes they wait anyway until their court date. So you get people that just take time. Sometimes it takes month. That’s why follow up is so important, that’s why how you treat them is so important. The stage one people that you talk to that we covered are people that say, “Let me think about it”, or, “Let me get back to you. Let me talk to my wife” and all that kind of stuff. So now you know what to ask them and now you know basics of how to follow up.

Now stage 2. If they don’t hire you right there on the phone and they want to do an in-office consult, which many attorneys love to do because they say “If I can get them in the office, I can convert them. I’m great at that”, wonderful. But a lot of people have no-shows. Why do you have no-shows? No-shows are really frustrating, how do you combat that? You have no-shows because things happened once they get of the phone with you. 1) you may not have convinced them that you’re the attorney for them; 2) they may still be scared and still just don’t want to take action and be paralyzed by it; 3) they may tell their family or friends that they talk to a lawyer and they say, “Your Uncle Bob does law. He can help you, you don’t need to talk to this guy or girl”, or, “You talked to a lawyer. Are you sure you want to do this”, or, “I’ve got a friend that’s a lawyer. He can help you. Go with him and he’ll do a cheaper rate or something”.

These things happen and doubt creeps into people’s minds even if you did a great presentation and they’re really interested in you but they just need to think about it for a day or so, they’re just not ready to take action. Doubt and time will creep into their minds. All kinds of things eat away at people that you have no clue are going on that can cause them not to take action. Maybe something happens and they have to go away for a few days or something happens at work and they get caught up, now all of a sudden a week goes by and they forgot. You set that consultation in the office and now they got to come in and drive in to see you, maybe they got to take off work, they got to get a babysitter for the kids, maybe the act of coming into the office really means that they’re going to have to deal with the case now.

They are scared of that, it’s almost as bad as going to court, going to see a lawyer. Wow, I’m really doing it, I’m really going to go see a lawyer about this. So it’s a big step, so you get a lot of no-shows. Another thing is two appointments made too far in the future. That’s deadly. So if you’re going to make appointments within next 48-hours, the next 24-hours, do that. You may even want to say to people, “When I do appointments, we do it right away because this stuff is serious. So I have an appointment for today and two for tomorrow, and that’s it. Beyond that, I can’t guarantee that I can get you in”. You could try to push people to get to see you right away. That’s one strategy. Another strategy too is back to follow up.

If I do a great talk with you and we schedule for 3 days from now for you to come to the office, I know that you’re walking through a mental minefield until you get to my office. There are many things that can blow up your ability to come. I better follow up, I better send you stuff in the mail or email, I better call and confirm. There are many things that you got to do in order to get someone over that next threshold and to get them to come into the office. You also got to realize it’s worth it to spend money at this point because the person has searched. First of all, they had a problem, then they searched, then they decided to come to your website, then they took the scary step of calling, then you did a consult, you spent your time, your billable hour on the phone with this person and convinced them and all those other stuff.

You spent hundreds of dollars in marketing and time to get to this person at this point and you’re just going to let them go and you’re not going to invest 10, 20, $30 to get them to retain you? Are you crazy? Now is the time to double down and send stuff out in the mail or call and email and do whatever you can to get this person to actually come into the office because that’s the next big step. According to you, the listener, once they get in that office, magic happens and you convert almost everybody. You have to back-up your process to the step right before and get them into the office and don’t have no-shows. You may not have this problem, but a lot of people do. That’s why I’m talking about it. These are all the things you do to get them in the office.

Once they’re in the office, wonderful, you’re magicians, now they’re going to retain you. I’m still going to say something about this. If someone comes in the office and he doesn’t retain you, all the same reasons we talked about apply but now, you’re spending even more time, more money. The person does go into great length and they still didn’t retain you, well you better pull out all of the stops now, hand them stuff, mail them stuff, give them stuff, do whatever you can to get that person retain you because again, it’s a sunk cost. By that time, you’ve spent so much effort and time; to lose them at that point is insane.

That’s how I would wait your marketing and your marketing dollars to see them. One more thing to talk about. When people first call, you’ll misperceive some of them as being tire-kickers or no good. This is usually a price issue or a perceived price issue. A famous mentor of mine Dan Kennedy said, “If everyone only cared about price, everyone will be driving around a KIA while I get 20-year old clunker. No one will be driving BMWs, Mercedes, Jaguar” and all that stuff. People do. Obviously price is not the main issue. I’ve seen studies on this where price was a factor but it was a factor only in about 15% of cases not even close to what you’re thinking. It doesn’t matter that there are guys right down the street that charge half of what you do and suck and just plead people out or do the minimum.

You can overcome that, so I’m going to talk about price strategy now. What if you get those callers that say, “How much do you charge for whatever it is you do”. What do you? If you answer that question or if you even get defensive about it, you’ve lost, so you got to turn it around on them. What you need to do is either you or the person answering the phone has to say “Obviously, it depends on the case”, but let me ask you a question. Is price the most important aspect of your decision or is it getting a good result in your case?” Pause and let the person answer. Some people will say price. You can also follow up with another question. “Do you think that the cheapest lawyer is going to get you the best result?”

Let the person answer. By doing this, you’re turning it around on them and you’re putting them on the “justify myself defense mode” and that’s what you want because if you start answering this price question and all that, you’re just dead, you’re going down a dark alley. You charge 3,500? John Smith down the street only charges 1,500. That’s crazy. You have to justify yourself, your position is weak and you know that. You never want to get to there, you want to have ways to evade this and ways that aren’t insulting and ways that don’t get into a nasty conversation but ways that turn it around on the person. The best way is to ask a question.

If you get to the point where you ask about what’s the most important aspect of your case, this is a great time if price comes up later to alley people’s fears. Here’s another strategy. I’m going to give you one more about price. There are many more besides this. You do your consult, you get to a certain point where the person says, “All right. How much do you charge?” You tell them your price and they say, “Oh man, that’s a lot of money”, or, “I can’t afford that”, what do you do? To preempt that, here’s what I would do. You got to set the stage before they ever get to that question with you; or if they do ask you the question, “Say all right, let me give you a multipart answer. So for what I do, if you pay me $10,000 and go real high with this first number, I could get experts in on the case, I could show up in court as many a 10 times.

I could depose everyone in the world, I could do all these things if you pay me $10,000. I’m not asking you to pay me that. If you pay me the minimum rate that I’m sure some guys out there charge of $1,000 or $1,500, I could only do the following. I can show up to court once, I wouldn’t have time to get extra witnesses, I wouldn’t be able to do this, I wouldn’t be able to do that, I’d be able to engage with your case a little bit but really not do much and it’s unlikely I’d be able to get you a good result. That’s why I charge $3,000”. Now, you framed it. You frame the high, you frame the low, you took away and you made your reasons why you charge what you charge. “For $3,000, here’s what I can do. I can do this, I can do that.

That’s why I charge that amount. Let me compare that for you for a second. If you didn’t have an attorney handle this case for you and you pled guilty or if you try represent yourself and you got a bad result, what would be the downside to you? The downside in your particular circumstance is you either wouldn’t collect a settlement of $200,000 or you’d end up in jail for a year, or a permanent criminal record, or your father would pass away and you miss out on the house in the estate plan, or you wouldn’t be able to get your wife here on a provisional waiver, so you’ll be stuck for another 3 or 5 years, so that’s the negative consequence of not getting help.

In my mind, that far outweighs the price I charge and that’s why I charge what I charge and that’s what I can do. So tell me what do you think the best option for you is?” That’s a really powerful way to present price instead of just “I charge X” because you’re giving reasons why you’re framing the high and the low and it all makes total sense to the prospect and they’re much more likely to respond positively for you if you do that. That’s the last part about answering the phone that I wanted to cover for now.

There is obviously a lot more. If you want help and you need help in your practice to get more juice out of this orange that you’re squeezing and paying a lot of money for, meaning your marketing dollars, and to get more clients retained that you’re already looking at, that are already not showing up, that are already saying “Let me think about it”, call 888-225-8594, or email me Richard.Jacobs@speakeasymarketinginc.com and let me help you, we can do it.

This concludes the three part series of how to become the most prestigious, pre-eminent and respected law firm in your metro, in your practice areas. Remember, part 1 is available to you, part 2 and part 3; part 1 was what to do on the web to set the stage so that people will be attracted to your website and come to it and take a personal look at what you have to offer. We talked about reviews, we talked about credentials, media attention and everything.

That’s in podcast 1 of 3. 2 of 3 is once they get to your site, how they make that fear-filled decision to actually call you. We went through a bunch of website elements on what you can do to tweak and change and make your website a lot more effective, a vehicle to get people to call you. 3, we just talked about scripts, answering the phone, follow up, how to handle price objections, so you’ve gotten the complete treatment, soup to nuts, and start to finish on how to become a prestigious law firm, the most respected one in your practice areas in your metro.

Again, if you need help with any aspects of this process, questions, implementation and that kind of thing, that’s what we do at Speakeasy Authority Marketing. Email me at Richard.Jacobs@speakeasymarketinginc.com, or call 888-225-8594 and we’ll be glad to talk to you and help you out.


Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)