Maximum Intake Pt. 3 w/ Jim Hacking and Gary Falkowtiz 260
Categories: Podcast

Today we’re sharing part three of a six part series on Intake. This isn’t your regular podcast. In this series you’ll get to listen in on actual strategy sessions between Gary Falkowitz and Jim Hacking as they dive into Jim’s intake processes.

Gary Falkowitz advises law firms, attorneys and legal organizations on the importance of creating, utilizing, managing and maximizing the intake process. He has worked with managing partners, associates, paralegals and all other support staff to assist law firms in improving their intake process and, importantly, increasing their conversion percentages.

Through his years of experience, Gary has realized that accountability, implementing strong internal procedures and responsiveness are three of the most important factors to ensure a successful and efficient intake process. It doesn’t hurt that his passion for the subject matter is unrivaled. In short, Gary believes that the key to maximizing a law firm’s revenue is strongly dependent upon the ability to appropriately prioritize and adequately scrutinize the intake process.

Gary is also the author of the book,  “The Complete Guide to Law Firm Intake: Powerful Strategies To Maximize Retention and Increase Revenue”.

12:00 qualifiers and disqualifiers
13:30 this is too much
15:00 passing the client off
16:45 cost structure
17:23 not needing a lawyer
23:00 this is a race
25:45 who talks about the cost
30:12 temporary signup
35:05 outsourcing 80% of the work the lawyer does

Want to hear more from Gary?

Tune in to his MaxLawCon 2019 presentation here or watch the video here.

Or, listen in to episode 93 with Gary as a guest on the Maximum Lawyer podcast here. 




Transcript: Maximum Intake Pt. 3 w/ Jim Hacking and Gary Falkowtiz 

Jim: So, we’re back with Gary Falkowitz. This is our third meeting. We’ve gotten into sort of an every other week. And I think, Gary, that might be a good rhythm for us instead of trying to schedule it every week.

Gary: Sure.

Jim: It sort of gives me enough time to sort of dig back into what we’ve been working on. You know, I’m the kind of guy– I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of guy who loves shiny objects. And I’m always bouncing around from one thing. And I sort of like chaos, too. So, you know, we switched last year from Clio to Filevine. And, right now, while you and I are working on all this, we’re also switching out of Lead Docket into a sales funnel software called Pipedrive. So, you know, I have like chaos all around. So, we’re working with this new phone software. And then, you and I are talking about, you know, fundamentally changing the way we even do consults. So, it’s all sort of up in the air, and chaotic, and that can be distracting. I think my team’s getting a little bit frustrated.

But I think the work that you and I’ve done, I shared it with my team here. And then, they watched both the videos. I think we’re all on the same page as far as moving forward with this different mindset.

And so, I spent some time sort of fleshing out that script that we were talking about. And then, we can go through it. But, I guess, just as a preview, the one thing that we’re sort of wondering about is something that you and I were wondering about is where [crosstalk].

Gary: Jim, I’m going to put you on hold for one second. I’m going to stop you there for one moment. Sorry.

Jim: All right. Yep.

Gary: Good morning. Gary Falkowitz.

Male: Yeah. Hi, Gary. This is–

Gary: I’m sorry about that, Jim. 

Jim: That’s no problem at all. Give me a chance to pull up– let me share my screen, sort of what we’re working on and I can–

Gary: Okay. 

Jim: — I can walk you through where I think the big team question is. So, let me do this.

Can you see that script again? It looks sort of it got– it has the Christmas-y colors going down. Can you see that?

Gary: Yep, I see it. Yep.

Jim: All right. Cool.

So, let me zoom in a little bit so that it’s easier for everybody to see. I’m going to move you over here.

Okay, so, we’re talking about, you know, “Hello. Thanks for calling Hacking Law Practice. Are you calling about an immigration issue?” So that was our first qualifying thing. You wanted us to sort of have a yes – no there so that we’re not wasting time with people who aren’t calling you about immigration. And then, we’re going to set a funnel up for how to refer people out because we work with people all over the country.

“That’s great. You made the right decision to call us. We handle immigration cases like that every single day. My name is Jim. May I ask your name?” They give us their name. We repeat and spell it back so that we get it correct because you reminded us that so often people get that wrong.

“This number that you’re calling from, is that the best number to reach you at?” Read the number back to the caller. Confirm and add to Pipedrive.

“What’s the best email address for you so that we can send you some follow-up information?” Repeat the email address back. Confirm and add to Pipedrive.

“Okay, great. And what city and state are you calling from?” City and state, we record all that.

And then, we say, “Are you currently represented by an immigration lawyer, yes or no?” And then, that’s sort of, if yes, “What’s the reason you’re looking for a new lawyer?” Purpose of this question is to see if they’re difficult or if they say something like– I said, last time, “I call my lawyer seven times a day and he only calls me once a week, or I never get any answer.” So, that’s sort of a red flag for us. Okay?

And then, “Would you say that you’re looking to hire a lawyer to help you through the immigration process?” Yes, maybe, or no. So, if no, then, we’re sending people off on their own little free adventure down the YouTube path or the website path. And then, we’re capturing their– we have their email already. So then, they go into sort of the regular funnel for people who contact the firm that don’t hire right away. Right?

Gary: Yeah. That’s right. Stop there for a moment. So, do you want to change your question from “Would you say that you are” to “Are you looking to hire a lawyer to help you through the immigration process?” A little more direct.

Jim: Okay.

That was me being my lawyer wishy washy place, so that’s good. Because I think this is– I think, “Are you looking?” is what you said the first time, so that’s good. Okay. 

Gary: Okay.

Jim: If they say no. “Hey, Mrs. Caller. Have you been to our website and YouTube channel? We have a thousand pages of free content and 500 immigration videos. I can send you the links. I can also take out a little bit about your case and share it with someone on our team who will reach out to you if we think we can help you.” Now, I think I understand that last sentence but maybe it might be helpful for the people watching this. Why do you think that last sentence is important?

Gary: “I can also take down a little bit about your case and share with someone our team who will reach out to you who, we think, can help you.” Yes. So, there’s a couple things going on right here, right now. You have claimants who don’t think they need a lawyer, so they say no to that, when they actually do need a lawyer. So, what happens, what I see, sometimes, in listening to a lot of phone calls is the call comes in or the lead comes in on one path and, if you just have a little bit of a conversation, you realize the path they came in on is not something you can help them out on but there’s another path that they need to realize that you can help them out on.

Unless you’re doing a tremendous high-volume campaign where it’s got to be in this box to qualify and everything else doesn’t qualify. It’s never smart to just disqualify in 10 seconds. You always want to get a little bit of information to make sure they’re not making a mistake about the reason that they’re calling. So, you definitely want to say, “Hey, I understand you don’t need a lawyer but just so you know, and I can make note of it, and I can share with our legal team, what was the reason you’re calling for today?” And then, they tell you something and your team has to be prepared to be like, “Well, wait a second. Mrs. Jones, you actually may need a lawyer for that. Did you know that ABC?” And they might go, “No. I didn’t realize that.” And, boom, you just created a case. That’s the first reason.

The second reason is it’s about creating a relationship with the claimant. So, if you’re going to be what can come across as disrespectful without even asking why they’re calling. Then, you just may have lost not only that potential claimant for the future, but all people that that person knows and speaks with, if they ever need a lawyer. So, you always want to make sure that they understand that you’re still listening. And then, you want to be honest. After you hear their– and don’t let them go off on this, you know, long tangent about why they’re calling. Try to keep it to a minute or two. But, if you can’t help, do not keep them on. You know, don’t tell them, “Hey, it’s something maybe we can help you out.” If you can’t help, you can tell them, “You know, unfortunately, it’s not something we think we can assist you with at this moment. We think, if you want, you can go to our website, or we think you should go call this company or whatever it is,” but it’s really important that you don’t just turn them off because they might never recommend someone to call you in the future.

Jim: Well, and I think, too, that it also reflects sort of the shift. I remember the biggest takeaway I had from your book on intake was, we want to empower the intake team to do a lot of the qualifying for us instead of having the lawyers do it in the consults. And this is sort of like a safety net so that, if they make a mistake or if they think of case isn’t a case and it actually is, we still have that freedom to go back to them.

Gary: And you know what? When you bring it– and I think– yes, that’s exactly right. But something you didn’t say that you were getting really close to saying is, it also gives your intake team a little bit of comfort in that, even if they make a mistake, they can still share the information that they just gather with one of their superiors or a lawyer to ensure that they did do the right thing in pushing that claimant off. So yes, it does get covered in there from multiple lines.

Jim: All right, cool.

And then, so, if they had said, “Yes.” We say, “That’s terrific. Are you calling about an immigration issue for you or someone else?” And I had a different path for someone else, but we just sort of cut it out to– you and I sort of cut it out to, then, we get to the immigration issue.

So, the first big question is, “What is their current status?” So, we would have like a drop down or a list for the people. And we’re going to have training on what all these things mean, right? Because we need to know what’s the immigration status that they have and what immigration status do they want. Those are sort of the two main ways that we can tell if we’re going to be able to help them, so. And I’ve tried to put it in the [crosstalk].

Gary: So, now, let me ask you something, Jim.

Jim: Yeah. 

Gary: Sorry. Sorry for interrupting.

Do you believe that that list of 12 or so– or 10 or so options takes up 90+% of the statuses?

Jim: I think it’s really close to 100. There’s very few people that could be in the United States, other than US citizens, and not be on that list.

Gary: Great. Okay–

Jim: I’ve tried to use language that the caller’s use. I’ve tried to use language that we– like, I tried not to use the lawyer terms. I tried to use the phrases that people say. Most people know how to characterize their own immigration status. They know how to articulate that either with the name of the visa that they have or the type of [inaudible 00:10:10], you know, so like, they might say, “I’m on an H-1B, or they might say I have an employment visa, or they might say, um, I’m on visit visa, or I have V1-V2.” So, I tried to put it right there. And we’ll probably do a little bit of training for the intake people of each of those things so that they understand what to listen for.

Gary: Yeah. They’re going to need– that’s exactly right. I was going to say that it’s going to be very important that they will know that there might be other words being used that fall into one of those categories.

Jim: Cool. And then– and then– then, there’s the– 

So, basically, with immigration, Gary, I’m sure you know this. It’s sort of like a ladder, like you move up the ladder, like you can be on a student visa and then you get a work visa. Then, you get a green card. And then, you get an H-1B.

So, this next list is sort of all the kinds of cases that we handle. And it covers most of the next steps for the people that were in the prior list. You know, from going from that, to that. From that, to that.

You know, now that I think about it, maybe a nice thing to do would be sort of, if I could do a visual chart for the intake people, “If you have this, that’s probably what you need. If you have this, that’s probably where you’re headed.” And that might be a nice visual so that they can see it and make it because I assume you want to have it sort of right there in front of them when they’re on the call so they can look and say, “Okay. Well, you’re on an H-1B, you probably need a green card.”

Gary: So, (a) your right. And a piggyback (a) is the more educated your intake staff comes across, I think we’re both talking at the same time. I don’t know. Are you talking, Jim?

Jim: No, I’m not talking, brother.

Gary: Oh, the video must be. Sorry, the video’s off timing-wise.

But I think, just to repeat what I said. Yeah, the more educated that your team comes across, the more that the claimant is going to trust your team. So, any visual mapping, graphing, illustration is going to be tremendously valuable for your team.

Jim: Okay.

All right. For these first three categories, these are kind of cases that we handle. So, one thing that I– I have a lot of times where I sued Immigration and Federal court to get immigration cases moving. So, that that can be for people in all different kinds of those categories. But, other than that, it’s all moving up that ladder plus deportation. So, I tried to put them in order of how frequently people call about these things so that, you know, it’s sort of in that sort of workflow. But, again, I guess we’ll have to train everybody on these are the kind of cases. The blue ones are the kinds we can handle. And the black ones are the kinds that we don’t handle.

Gary: Do you have anything after that question because I’m going to call that a disqualifier, right. For every script that any law firm use, you’re going to block qualifiers, disqualifiers, and you ‘ve got to have information gathering, right? Because there are viewers right now, that may not be immigration lawyers, and just want to get one tidbit that is universal throughout our industry. It’s the following. And it’s a big hole that every law firm and every lawyer is falling into. And it’s this, do not take advantage of the time that you have with the claimant on the first call and think that you can now ask 15- or 20-information-gathering/investigative questions. The more questions you ask, while you might think it’s beneficial to your law firm in moving that case forward, it’s actually doing the quite opposite for the claimant, which is, in their mind, they’re thinking, “You know what, this is too much for me right now. I don’t have time to answer all these questions. I don’t have the answers to all these questions. I think I’m going to go back to that other law firm who told me that I qualify after answering three questions.”

So, it’s really important that we don’t get greedy with the time that we have with the claimant and think, “You know what, while I have ‘em, let me get the doctor’s address. Let me get the city that they were born in. Let me get their kids’ middle names.” Don’t do that. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s going to hurt you. Plus, once they become a retain client, then they’re more patient and they’re more interested and comfortable in giving you whatever you need.

Jim: So, you don’t think knowing which benefit they want to get is important?

Gary: I totally do. I was more– it’s for the viewers out there, right now. I want them to be aware of, generally, what to be careful of. What you’re doing right now. I see no issue with at all.

Jim: Yeah, because– again, like I said before, most people know what immigration status they have. Most people know what benefit they want. So, I’m thinking it’s– like, I certainly don’t think the caller– the intake person’s going to need to read off the list and ask them which of these do you want? I think that they’re going to get it.

Gary: Yeah. And that’s fine. You know what they have to? That might be okay. That’s not a waste of your time. So, I’m totally okay with all this. I see what you’re doing. That’s [inaudible 00:15:19] fire, what’s in black over there. Plus, it’s early enough in the conversation to add, that I don’t think I’d ask you to move it up even more. So, I’m okay with this so far. This is great. 

Jim: Okay. And then, “Are there any pending deadlines?” That’s just a yes or no. So, that’s how far I’ve gotten, right.

So, this is about the time where I think we would do the pass off to the lawyer under you– but just so the listeners know and so you know, the way that we’ve always done it is we’ve had intake people pushing people towards a consult and either they take a consult or they don’t. And if they do take a consult, it’s usually a couple of days later. They pay $100 for it and they get 25 minutes with the lawyer.

And so, you know, I had a consult this morning with someone from New York. And I was just answering questions about a form that they’re going to file on their own. So, it was a total waste of my time, right, from an academic standpoint.

Gary: Yep.

Jim: They were very grateful, right. They were getting a lot of good advice for 100 bucks but, as far as moving the ball forward and signing up cases, it wasn’t very good. So, I see new potential clients on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, part of Friday and Saturday afternoon. And then, Andrew and Amani, the other attorneys in the office, they do them at different times. So, my thought is that what we’ll do is we’ll just change those times and that’ll be when a lawyer is there to back up intake. So, intake would then, instead of scheduling the consult, they would then just be forward– we would pick time slots, you know, where we’re either on-call or doing things that allow us to stop what we’re doing and answer the phone. Like, I could be working on a brief and I can be the one on-call, then I can stop and answer the questions, you know, if they’ve been qualified. So, I think this is about that time where we would pass them off. Is that what you were thinking?

Gary: Well, let’s go back. And, again, for those who are watching, it’s been a couple weeks, so I sometimes repeat the questions to refresh my recollection, a little lawyerly language there we’ve done. Yeah. So, my–

Jim: I think that’s good.

Gary: Going back, you had brought up how there’s a cost. Tell me about your cost structure again. It cost X amount of dollars to sign the retainer.

Jim: You mean, like what does it cost me to get a new lead and all that stuff?

Gary: No. Like, how much does a claimant have to pay to hire you as a lawyer.

Jim: Oh, yeah, right. Right. Right. So, our typical case is $3500. But a deportation is $10,000. So, it’s either going to be $3500, $5000 or $10,000.

Gary: Okay. And the reason you’re getting a lawyer on the phone is, in your opinion, why?

Jim: To answer their questions and sign them up.

Gary: Okay. In an ideal world, if the intake specialist is prepared to– and I’m just thinking out loud with you right now. If the intake specialist is prepared to explain the cost to sign up with the law firm, and the claimant is interested in moving forward, would you need a lawyer to speak with them before they sign?

Jim: I mean, I just– I think I have the general attorney belief that, ”Oh, yes, you have to have me. I’m the attorney. I’m so important.“ I’m open to suggestions, otherwise. But, in my egotistical mind, I like to think I’m magic and I convince all these people to sign up.

Gary: Yeah, and you are. So, I’ll take your magic away from you.

But what I’m concerned about more is– I don’t want– the warm transfer to an attorney. If anyone has ever heard me speak or if anyone has ever talked to me about this, I’ve always been tremendous proponent of having attorneys involved in the– as long as it does not delay or cut the process to get to create an attorney-client relationship. In other words, as long as there’s not a callback associated with it, as long as we’re not delaying decision-making authority, like I’m still going to want your intake team, even before any warm transfer to say, “Hey, Mrs. Jones. So, here’s the great news. You qualify for representation. You meet our criteria to become a client. The next step is to have you sign a document, an agreement, giving us permission to represent you and also making sure you understand that there’s a cost to hire us as your lawyers.” I want your intake team to say that because, otherwise, they hang up that call, or they’re waiting for the lawyer to get on the phone and, at that moment, they still don’t know during that delay period, “Hey, does the law firm want me or not?” 

Now, you have to understand something. For everyone that’s watching this, you have to pay– even for immigration, personal injury, Workers’ Comp, SSD, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. The people that are calling you unlikely ever needed to call you in the past. They were unlikely needing the same service in the past. This is the first time they’re going through something like this. Even when they’re calling or reaching out via the web, there’s still this significant portion of their brain – even if they have a great case, guys, that wonders, “I wonder if the law firm can help. I wonder if I meet their criteria.” So, the sooner we can tell them that they do and we can, the sooner they become comfortable talking about how they can become a client and answering your questions.

So, now, let circle back for a moment. What I don’t want is a delay from your intake team, with a qualified claimant. And when we say the term qualified, meaning we just went through that whole intake with you. We know that’s somebody we want as a client. We’re pretty certain we want this person as a client.

Now, we have to convey interest, right? We’ve got to tell them they qualified. We’ve got to explain the next steps. “This is how you become a client. This is the cost.” And we have to do all of that and, obviously, we’re going to convey compassion, and convey the fact that we’ve had a lot of experience doing what they’re looking for and what they need. And then, we have to convey urgency, right? We’ve got to be able to get this done because, at the end of the day, this is still a business and we don’t want to lose these potential clients to our competitors.

So, how do we do that last step? Without delay. And I’m going to throw it back to you, Jim.

Jim: Do you think that we can sign people up with the fact that they’re going to be paying us money, without people talking to a lawyer? I know, that’s sort of a basic question, but it’s sort of a fundamental question for me. I [crosstalk].

Gary: Okay. So–

Jim: Go ahead.

Gary: I was going to say, barring any state or rules that you need to abide by, that require the claimant to speak with a lawyer prior to becoming a client, which some states do have, by the way. Putting all those aside because I don’t have those memorized. From a possibility standpoint. From a process standpoint. The answer is, undoubtedly, in my mind, yes, you can do it but there’s a value in the lawyer and we have to ensure we’re using that lawyer appropriately. If we’re calling claimants back that qualify, we’re hurting ourselves. We’re hurting ourselves. If we’re pushing off to a lawyer without first telling them they qualify, we’re hurting ourselves. If we are not realizing– if we’re not trying to get a case signed up while on the phone, we’re hurting ourselves.

That’s just the reality of where we are in the industry right now. A race– this is part– all of our– whoever’s in this world, this industry that you and I are currently in, if you don’t appreciate the fact that this is a race, you are missing a tremendous amount of cases.

Jim: Okay. 

Gary: So, now, let’s go back to your question. Do I think it’s necessary to get a lawyer on the phone? I don’t think it’s necessary. If you have the resources to do it and it’s not going to cause any undue delay or unnecessary delay, then you do it, and you make sure that the lawyer has the resources in front of him/her to get that case signed.

Jim: And you don’t think there’s any difference, but the fact that they’re giving us money versus signing things on a contingency? Like, as far as their expectation of, “Boy, it’s going to be hard for me to commit to spending $3500 if I don’t get to talk to an attorney first.”

Gary: I think the answer is how educated and how convincing is your team going to be in explaining the value of what you’re providing them, your resource, right. So, if you tell somebody how much experience you have. This is how much it costs. At the end of the day, it’s just a product that you’re selling. I understand there’s magic, Jim, and I understand that, you know, the magician that you are. But, at the end of the day, you’re just selling a legal product and they are likely, because no one’s doing immigration, I assume, on a contingency fee, and they’re realizing that by going online and looking at other lawyers, they’re not going to be completely surprised.

But, here’s the best part– here’s the best part. Go one step at a time here. Have your intake team get comfortable with qualifying and explaining the next steps. Let them get a sense and feel of what the reaction is from the claimants. And then, warm transfer that call over to a lawyer. And then, after a week or two, ask your intake team. “Hey, so, I see we qualified a hundred people that we warm transferred. What’s your sense on when you told them the cost and you told them the next steps? Were they eager to get started or were they hesitant and needed to speak to a lawyer?” And maybe for each call that they take, they should start creating a little check box for themselves. This one was eager This one was hesitant. This one didn’t want to do anything at all and you get a better sense because, if you can get to a point where you can sign these cases up – certain cases up without needing to find a lawyer, that’s only a plus, plus for you.

Jim: Well, so that brings up the question of where I got stuck, when I was finishing up the script, and that is you and I were sort of bouncing back and forth. “Do we have the intake people talk about the cost or do we have the lawyer talk about the cost?” That’s where we ended up last show. So–

Gary: Yep. Now, what are you thinking? What are you thinking since our last call?

Jim: Well, I was still doggedly holding on to that idea that attorneys need to close the deal. So, now, you’ve got to be open to the possibility, at least– and maybe it’s not an all or nothing thing. Maybe, certain cases go to lawyers and certain cases stay with– and even that’s a win, right? Even that’s a win. And I also like the idea of what you just said as far as, you know, doing it in phases, getting everybody comfortable with the idea of pitching it. And then, warm transfer. And then, after that, just see what we can start pushing back to the salespeople.

Gary: I think that’s exactly right. We go one step at a time. And I also think that another step you can take right now, which is consistent with what we just talked about, is don’t leave– so let’s– right now, Jim, your intake team speaks to a claimant. They don’t talk about the cost. And there’s a bunch of them that you’re scheduling a consult with, correct? 

Jim: That’s right.

Gary: Okay. So, now the claimant hangs up. And they go talk to their spouse. And their spouse asks two very important questions. One is, can they help you? And two is, what’s the cost? And that woman or man says, “Huh, I think they can help me. We set up for another call. And I don’t know the cost.”

Now, we did and went through this whole– we waste– waste a strong word. We spent time, and so did they, talking to each other, and they only left knowing a little bit more than what they came in with. So, I would think that they want to hang up the telephone and tell their spouse, “Okay. They told me they can help. They told me I qualified. They told me they have a lot of experience. They told me what the next steps were. I have to sign a retainer. They told me the cost. And they got a lawyer on the phone for me. And the lawyer explained to me the value of the service.”

If we can get there, that’s a big step. You’re not asking them to sign yet, although you should if the lawyer speaks with them and the lawyer likes the case, too. But, if you can get them there, that’s a huge step than what you’re doing right now. They go back. They talk to their spouse. “I know how much it costs. I’m really impressed by what they do. They told me I meet their criteria. They’re competent. They can help me.”

Jim: Yeah.

Gary: Right? So, we go from– and I’m not– and I might be taking a giant leap in assuming something, but I want to adjust or transition the current operator like intake responsibility, we’re currently showing, to a level of, “Do you qualify? I will tell you yes or no and tell you how you can become a client.” So that the claimant now has gotten a lot more value, as opposed to just giving information, as opposed to saying “Here are the answers to your questions. I can’t wait to speak to somebody to find out if I qualify.”

Like I don’t think we– just come from a position that has seen this from hundreds of law firms and dealing with tens of thousands of intakes, if not more. Right? Come from a position knowing that we are in such a competitive environment that time is not on our side. It’s just not on our side.

Now, the more lawyers that realize that, regardless of how good they are as lawyers, the more clients are going to sign up.

Right now, Jim’s quiet, thinking about when the baseball season’s going to start. Jim, I don’t have good news for you.

Jim: I’m sorry [inaudible 00:30:29]. 

Gary: I don’t know when it’s going to start.

Jim: I’m still bummed about that. I was watching this great interview last night on YouTube. Stephen King and John Grisham were interviewing each other and they’re both huge baseball fans. So, Stephen King’s a Red Sox fan and John Grisham grew up listening to the Cardinals on the radio, down in Mississippi. And they were both bemoaning the fact that baseball hasn’t started and it’s a bummer, for sure. It’s a big part of life.

Gary: Let’s go back because I feel like I got a lot going on in your head. The goal of these calls is not for you to make some tremendous change. We’ve got to go one step at a time. Although I do– when we talk about it, I do certainly discuss it from a standard of where I hope you will be as you start to take steps to improve where I want the finish line to look like.

Jim: So, what role do you see–?

Gary: So, for me–

Jim: Yeah, go ahead.

Gary: Wait. Tell me, Jim. What’s your question?

Jim: What role do you see the lawyers even have? I mean, you think an ideal–

Oh, I know what I wanted to say. We had talked about a temporary signup or a signup that doesn’t involve us getting into bed together, right? It’s just like a first date signup. Is there a way we could work that into this? So that they’re done calling around and then there’s still some give and take on whether we actually take them on as a client.

Gary: Listen, I love that. I’m glad you brought that up. That means you’re considering it. So, the whole point of that is to get them off– They’re a free agent. Get them off the market. Bring them in and give you an opportunity to review this without the fear of them, potentially, going somewhere else.

The way I look about it. If we went down that road, I think, we need lawyers less immediately because what I would envision that– that’s almost like a contingency fee agreement, right? “There’s no cost, Mrs. Jones.” And this comes from your intake team. “This qualifies for an initial investigation. And in order for us to begin that initial investigation, we just need you to sign this document giving us permission to begin this investigation, as your lawyers. And then, we’ll investigate this case. If we can help you there’s going to be a cost associated with that. And we’ll make sure you speak to the legal team. You’re comfortable with that. And, if we can’t, we’re going to let you know that as well.”

So, if you went down that road, I would argue with you and find out an argument. We’d both be on the same page saying, “Hey, we don’t need the lawyer right now for every one of these. We can train our intake team to get them to sign these, electronically, while on the phone with them. 

Jim: Yep. Yeah, I have the technology for that. I could have intake sending those simple agreements very quickly. And that might be– certainly, it might be a nicer segue, temporarily, as we move from the model of lawyer-heavy to intake-heavy. But also, it might be a nice segue just in that we’re slicing down the process into smaller steps so that it’s not a huge leap, either for us or for them. And then, we can get a lot of the data– I mean, because that’s going to be a screener as well, right? So, if we have– maybe–

The intake people have two jobs. One is the initial phone calls. And then, they also might have time where they’re the ones doing the fact investigation that a lawyer would do during the consult. And then, they send it on to the lawyer. And the lawyer says yes or no, that’s a case where that’s not a case. That’s– 

Gary: So, there’s a lot that goes on there [inaudible 00:34:09].

So, let’s talk about each of things. I mean, just looking up thinking. So, here’s how that would work.

Let’s call it the gold standard. The gold standard, in that situation, is your intake staff now has the authority, and the education, and know-how to determine whether a case qualifies for that basic no-fee retainer. If they do, their goal, gold standard-wise, is to stay on the phone. Wait for the claimant to sign electronically. Confirm for the claimant that you received it. And then, even schedule an appointment, which is totally fine, or warm transfer. It doesn’t matter because I’m going to treat this as a retain client so there’s less of that urgency now to move this on because it’s already a client of ours. That’s your gold standard.

The other level is you speak to that claimant. They’re qualifying it. They’re sending out the electronic retainer. The claimant says, you know, “Let me think about this. Let me talk to my spouse.” Now the intake’s position is to make sure they follow up appropriately, consistently, frequently and that, while they’re doing that, they’re sharing the information with your attorneys or your legal team so they can get reassurance. “Yeah, yeah. That is the case we want. You know what? Let me call, too.” Right? Get a little voicemail from a lawyer which should be very valuable, or a phone call from lawyer, very valuable. Or, the lawyer says, “Nah, we don’t want that case for the following reasons. You could just tell them we’re not interested.” And that’s something you do while the retainers out.

The third one is the claimant says, you know– first of all, you have a disqualifier. You have the intake specialist saying, “Unfortunately, you know, based on everything you said, I don’t think this is a case we can assist you with, but I’m going to do it anyway’s. I’m going to share this with the legal team. If anything changes, we’re going to give you a call back.”

But for all intents and purposes, I was going to say there’s like a fourth one in there, when someone qualifies but we somehow– they don’t have an iPhone, or they don’t have a smartphone, or they’re they don’t want anything sent to them. That’s going to happen less than 5% of the time anyway. But that could be a nice little delay factor. And it could bring in a lot more clients at that first level client, if you will, where you guys get to take your time a little bit and figure out whether you want it or not.

Jim: I mean, really, what we’re [inaudible 00:36:19]. 

Gary: One sec, Jim. I apologize.

Jim: No worries.


Gary: Sorry, Jim, I may have to hop off in a couple of minutes.

Jim: Okay. That’s all right. We’ll just finish up. I think we’ve had a big breakthrough. And I think that’s just fine. So, whenever you need to go, you go, and we’ll just– we’ll reconvene.

Gary: Well, I want to hear your feedback because I want to close the loop on that. Not close the loop but I want to make sure we both get our two cents in. 

Jim: It seems to me that what we’re talking about, really, Gary, is outsourcing the 80% of the work that the lawyer does during the consult which is getting this information which a lawyer doesn’t need to be the one to do. The lawyer needs to be the one that figures out the prescription for help. And the lawyer needs to be the one to say whether it’s a case or not. Those are really the two things that only the lawyer can do during the consult.

So, what we’re talking about is farming out the fact gathering so that the analysis can be done either by the mid-level intake person, or the lawyer, or them in tandem. And then, just leaving only the last little piece to the legal team who decides whether this case– So, I think that by breaking it up between the initial intake, the mid-level intake, and then the final decision making is going to offload 20 minutes out of every half hour for a lawyer.

Gary: Well, there’s something else. Something you said there, I want to hit on here. One is I want your intake team to use the determination as to whether something could be a case or not. That’s the standard. Could this be a case? And then, try to get that signed up on that no-fee agreement, if you decide to go down that path, without even ever needing a lawyer. Could this be a case?

The lawyer, if you’re asked to do a consult before it gets signed, can make a more strict determination as to whether it’s likely going to be a case that you’re going to get a fee on. But to answer your other question, the lawyer’s responsibility, in my mind, is a closer, when necessary. A closer, when necessary. Because you might not need a lawyer for every call. You know, you might be able to have your intake be closers.

So, just to rephrase it a little bit, of what you just said. It’s not that the lawyer is just going to determine whether it’s a case or not because the reality is you want your intake to determine whether it could be a case. Therefore, it could be a case. Let’s get it signed.

And why do I say that, guys? And I guess, I’ll end my two sets of this. I say that because it is better to retain then reject, than never to retain at all because we delayed too much, because we wanted to investigate too much, because we wanted to get a lawyer on the phone, right?

Let’s keep our standard basic to determine whether it could be a case. And, if it could be a case, let’s get it signed. And then, see the lawyer for closing, when necessary.

Jim: I love it. Actually, I think this is exactly the right mix because it frees up the lawyer for lawyer time. It continues the conversation. It’s as speedy as we can get. It gets them off the market which is always your goal. I think that there’s not a lot of downside to this new approach. Do you see much? I mean, I think, to me, we are freeing of a ton of my time and a ton of my lawyers’ time who were doing consults. And like–

Gary: And, you know what, you’re going to learn. You’re going to learn about this, Jim. You’re going to see how many– are you signing too many cases that have no value? Okay, well, let’s change the criteria or change stuff. Are we not signing any cases? Why? You know.

So, you’re going to learn a lot about your practice. And it’s something that I’m very comfortable– of course, it’s not my money or my time. I’m very comfortable guiding you and work with you as you do it. I think it can be very valuable.

Jim: I know you’ve got to go. I’ll just end with this.

To me, what it is, is it’s like you assume everybody’s on the conveyor belt. And then, there’s little places where people can drop off the conveyor belt. So, one place is with the initial qualifying questions. Then, the next one is with the other intake question. And then, otherwise, they’re just moving on this fast assembly line to a case.

Gary: That’s right. That’s exactly– so, basically– right. And they come in with the assumption of “it’s a case”, where do they drop off to not be a case anymore? That’s right.

Jim: Awesome. Well, this was great, Gary. I know you’ve got to go. Let’s talk next week and we’ll get back at it.

Gary: You got it, Jim.

Thank you so much, guys. Thank you. I’ll talk to you soon.

Good luck with everything, Jim.

Jim: Thanks, brother. See ya.

Gary: Bye, buddy.


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