I have implemented and sell a system where attorneys can automatically create retainer agreements and invoices with one simple step. The benefits of this system are pretty obvious, but I had a recent experience that highlights the importance of an autoretainer. I was recently contacted by a potential client for a drunk driving case. The parent was calling for their son who was a student at a university in Michigan. The lead was generated using a dynamic contact form on one of my many criminal defense websites.
Every time a potential client fills out a form it gets immediately sent to my iPhone and to a contact management database called Highrise. It also sends them an autoresponder telling them that no attorney-client relationship has been established and that they can call my 800 number for immediate assistance. This particular client called my 800 number and I was able to return his call within a matter of minutes…this immediately establishes trust!
After speaking to the client’s father for 10 minutes, on a Saturday, I was able to establish enough of a rapport that he wanted to hire me on the spot. I told him that I will send a written fee agreement and invoice that he can pay online immediately. Most clients would expect to receive these documents on Monday or Tuesday. Not from my office. I tried logging in to my computer from home and it was frozen for some unknown reason…have to love Windows 7!
Because we have an autoretainer system built and integrated into an online form generator, I was able to take my iPhone and follow these simple steps:
1. I have the URL for a pre-built general form stored in the notes on my iPhone. I simply copy and paste the URL into my safari browser on my phone;
2. The URL takes me to a form where I fill in the client name, address, email, court where the offense occurred, and the amount of the retainer quoted;
3. I hit the submit button….and it is done! That is it.
This simple step created a customized retainer agreement sent as an autoresponder. The form also integrated with my online invoicing system and created a custom invoice that is sent to the client’s email. This can be paid with PayPal or credit/debit card immediately.
It sends me a notification to my email that both were sent and the client called to acknowledge receipt of both. The client indicated he would be paying immediately and I had the money in my bank account from a non-refundable retainer agreement in less than 15 minutes…on a Saturday! I can also check on my iPhone whether or not the client viewed the invoice and track payments since my program has an iPhone app.
If you would like to create your own Autoretainer system, contact us today at 1-866-522-8529.Read More
Virtual law practices are under attack. Traditional attorneys and large firms with a heavy presence on ethics boards and Supreme Court Administrators are attacking the concept of virtual law firms. Why? money. They are seeing virtual law firms popping up at the courthouse and at pretrial conferences and they sit there and wonder quietly…”how did this guy get all these cases, and where is his office?”
Specifically, states like New Jersey are stabbing at the heart of the virtual law practice’s heart…the “bona fide office rule”. This is a blatant attack on virtual practices as it requires a lawyer to maintain a bona fide office, or brick and mortar physical office where clients can find their lawyer and drop off papers. Hello? These boards and ethics attorneys are not in the real world of today and the advances in technology.
My virtual law practice is a hybrid. I maintain an office in a professional office building where I get a physical address with mail service, a receptionist that answers my phone “McNeil Law Office”, and a nice office or conference room to meet clients in. They can stop by any time between 8 and 5 and someone is always there. In addition, they have my personal cell phone number and I check my email every 5 minutes on my iPhone. How is THIS not a bona fide office?
Lawyers are fond of putting signs up on their offices, “By Appointment Only”. That is my office…how is that any different. In addition, I am a happier lawyer and pass that on to my clients. Does a client really care if their legal work and mindless paperwork gets done in a stuffy office or out in the sun at a coffee shop? I would say NO.
The economy in many states for attorneys is dismal. It will become almost a necessity to operate a virtual law practice rather than harboring ridiculous overhead that comes due every month. Female attorneys in New Jersey have begun to attack back, saying that they do not want their home addresses published to their clients, especially if they have young children they are caring for on a part time basis.
These virtual hybrid offices are perfect for the part time lawyer/supermom. Even a state like Florida tries to implement a bona fide office rule through their advertising rules. However, a call to the ethics hotline will reveal that as long as you say some magic words…available for consultations at_______, then you are covered. How are magic phrases protecting the best interest of the client versus promoting better overall client service. I choose client service over abra cadabra any day.
Visit www.vlawyerconsulting.com for more tips on how to operate a virtual law practice ethically.Read More
I get this questions a lot…especially from lawyers who simply cannot fathom operating a law firm from the Internet. I believe that an attorney operating a virtual law practice can deliver HIGHER quality legal services than one who sits behind a desk and plays solitaire all day. In my virtual practice, I maintain a physical office location to meet with clients, provide my personal cell phone number, and am accessible at all times through email on my iPhone. I know many law firms where you will get a receptionist, paralegal or legal assistant who delivers a message and then maybe you get a call back. All of my clients can reach me directly on my personal cell phone or ask me questions through text message or email. I utilize electronic fax programs that notify me on my iPhone of every fax that comes in…that way I never miss a fax from a client that is urgent. I am also able to pass along my overhead savings to my clients. I charge fixed fees and am able to accept payments through my website by credit card or paypal. All of this means quality client service and higher client satisfaction…shouldn’t that be the goal of every attorney?
If you would like to find out how you can operate a virtual law practice or have questions concerning law firm marketing , check out www.vlawyerconsulting.comRead More