Looking to set up a virtual system that runs without you? That runs like clockwork? Listen to today’s episode with Regina Edwards, as we share her 2022 MaxLawCon presentation about the automation you can set up to qualify your leads, create a smooth client journey and to maximize your time wherever you are in the world.
Regina walks through the basics setup and intentionality behind her automation system. And while there is work in the set up, as Regina said, if you don’t execute — it doesn’t matter what your plan was. So get your note taking app out as she dives into her intake and litigation automation processes.
01:50 Virtual lawyering!
02:55 High Level overview of intake
06:10 Streamline your intake with a CRM
10:30 Declining potential clients that are not a good fit an easy way
11:33 After the intake call, what do you do?
13:07 How do you enforce team consistency?
14:27 Litigation workflow
16:19 What can you automate?
19:35 Creating a discovery workflow
🎥 Watch the full video on YouTube here. https://youtu.be/A7tM9Tg1ZvE
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Transcript: Creating a Virtual System That Runs Like Clockwork Without You
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from Max law con 2020. To keep listening to hear Regina Edwards as we share her talk, creating a virtual system that runs like clockwork without you, you can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Now to the episode.
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum layer podcast, podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
Good afternoon, everybody. One thing that I want to say before getting started is I wanted to piggyback off of something that Tyson said earlier, where it’s all in the execution. So how many people have heard of the warship vasa? Anybody? Yeah, no. So it was the most magnificent warship ever built, but you’ve never heard of it. And this is why. So it was built over between 1626 to 1628. So over two years, the King of Sweden had all of these crazy requests, decided to put double the amount of cannons on the front of the ship, and then encase them in bronze. So I’m not an engineer, but I know that you put really heavy stuff on the front of the ship, that usually doesn’t work out. So on the maiden voyage, divided of all his friends from all over the world, which is not easy to do in 1628, by the way, sends it off on this glorious first mission. And it’s something like 12 minutes later, and unfortunately, killed three people. So it’s in the execution. So you can have the most brilliant idea in the world, you can spend two years planning it, you don’t execute it, it’s not going to go well for you. So this is me, oh, this is how clients picture me. This is what is actually happening behind the scenes. So my I have a Facebook group called The War on the beach. And I started in 2019. And the point of it was I was virtual lawyering and kind of giving advice about tech tools and everything. And it kind of got really popular when COVID hit and people realized, Oh, crap, now I have to virtual lawyer. So why should you listen to maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t, but this is why I think you should. I’ve always been into tech and building systems is kind of my thing. I’m a little bit of a geek about it, I created my own practice management system, I use monday.com, which is really in the project management space, but I converted it for my own use. I’ve been paperless for a really long time. Before it was commonplace. I did live in Arizona for three years and kept writing my Georgia practice. And this was kind of an accounting I did in 2021, over what I did in 2020, in terms of traveling all over the place and still running my litigation practice. And those are kind of all the things that I managed to get done over COVID. So we’re going to talk about two main things today, one intake and one litigation. And usually each of these things I can do an hour talk on and I’ve got 20 minutes, so we’re just gonna barrel through it and and see what happens. So this is what we’re going to cover. So in the first part, we’ll talk about an intake process that serves your firm, and the clients and how to leverage various software to do that. There’s also a separate tracks, I think tomorrow, that is specific to intake, and they’re going to cover some of the same thing. So I’m really going to do kind of a high level overview, how to use intake forms that help speed up the process of intake, and how to turn your intake form into a powerful tool that deploys your marketing strategies, and how to make the client feel like they’re working from you from the very beginning, from the moment they hit that send button. It’s super important. I do have a full hour video that I’ve already shot until on YouTube. There’s a link to it in the PowerPoint materials, or it’s on my YouTube channel. But it really goes into it in detail. So figure out what your client avatar is. I am super specific at this point, family law, I really only want to do divorces, I really only want to do high asset divorces. And I only want clients who have reasonable expectations, you can find a way to build that into your process. I ask questions like, What are you looking for from this process. And you will be surprised at some of the answers I get. You know, sometimes it’s my wife slept with my cousins. So I don’t want to pay any child support, I want her thrown into the fire of Mount Doom. So I know that is not my ideal client. So I can sort of cut them off at the past. But just think about who your client is. And you can find a way to build that into your intake form. I also need tech savvy clients, I’m flat fee, I’m efficient, it’s only going to work. If they can scan and send me PDF documents. I’m not going to take grocery bags full of paper, just not doing it. So my business model. So that is something I asked for in the intake process. Make sure that you’re documenting your processes you’re delegating, you’ll get your team to kind of weigh in on those steps as well. And also develop your script and your workflows and make sure you test it every single level. So this is just an example a funnel to get from unqualified leads all the way to retain clients. cold leads usually you’re not going to have that good of a close rate on qualified leads. You should have a better close rate on but they should still go into the same funnel which is your your intake system so they get the automatic workflows and steps that you’ve set up. So this is a slide I’m not gonna go into too detail on it. But it essentially explains that people have lost the ability to be patient, they expect an answer right away, they expect you to pick up the phone right away. And there are ways for you to see more responsive than you actually are 95% of the time I am at home and my SpongeBob pajamas, just paying out watching Netflix. However, if someone’s calling my office, they’re getting emails from me, they’re getting texts from me, and they’re getting homework of what to do, and the next step of the intake process, so they feel like we’re working with them from the beginning. And we are, it’s just that me physically, you know, answering the phone and banging out text messages, this is a slide that you really can spend some time on going on over later. But really, the point of it is, if you’re spending money on marketing, you don’t have a decent system in place to capture those leads and respond to them right away, you’re just throwing the money in the toilet. So if you are spending money on marketing, and you don’t have the systems in place, just give me the money, because you might as well, because it’s not the best use of your funds. So in terms of intake, you can use your software to streamline these things. So this is a list of what I have used and what some people are using a lot of people use Cleo, Cleo grow, I’m using lot Maddix. All of these systems have CRM, and CRM is just customer relations management. So really can do anything that you want to from the beginning, in terms of receiving the calls, you can screen them out fairly easily. You can send contracts right away, all of it can be done very quickly with automations, that you set up that you’re not really actively doing. Shareable forms are really important, because they’re accessed by a web link, I personally give mine to my answering service. And the answering service fills it out as if they are the client. So that’s the main key, the information gets in the CRM right away. Because as soon as it gets in the CRM, it can be deployed in a million different ways. And we’ll talk about that coming up. So these are ideas for a script. My script is also it’s in the link. It’s also on my my page. And on my channels, there’s a million ways to find it. But it’s very long, sort of shows you the specificity that I use, to my intake people to kind of code things down for me, for example, I don’t accept cases with when defects is involved in defects is the Department of Family and Children’s Services in Georgia. Some states they call it CPS, I just don’t do it. So those people are kind of cut off at the past. So we’re not using my firm’s resources to kind of try to as gently as we can decline this people. So you can sort of built into your script and really kind of hone in on the client that you want and educate your answering service to save you time. So this just kind of goes through my entire script, my practice areas, all of that. So my answering service is educated on what it is that I do. It helps me because I’m then I’m not getting 50 calls a day versus the 30 that I’m actually getting that I have to triage just makes it easier for me. So this is my web forms. I’ve got two, the one on the left is the shorter, the one on the right is the longer. So you can see that I’ve put in here things that are important to me. For example, how do you plan to pay? I felt like this is a really important question that people don’t ask at the beginning. Obviously, if your PII or some contingency for a mess, not gonna apply to you, and family law and 100% applies to me, I need to know how you plan to pay me my face. And it’s a question that I think that should be asked in the beginning. So you’re not setting yourself up for a disappointing conversation later on. Then I also put in order to provide fair flat fees, where PayPal is firm, you have to be comfortable with email, you have to be comfortable with scanning in order to become a client. And there are some people that say, Yeah, I’m not really feeling that. And that’s fine. There’s attorneys that can service them, I fortunately, that’s just not me. So this intake form really helps me because I probably estimate about 20% of the people that call really don’t make it past this form, because there’s some things in there they may not agree with, or they may not want to pay consultation fee, but it helps save me some time later on. So this is an example of a very basic intake process, they fill in form, it creates a contact record, I’m gonna create a case file for certain practice areas, criminal law and PII, you need to shorten the process, because those people will hang up on you and call someone else. If you make it too onerous. I intentionally stretch out my intake process, because I don’t want or need people that are impatient, you’ve been miserable in your marriage for 20 years, I’m not going to fix it in 20 minutes. And if you have that expectation, we’re just not gonna work well together. So this is an example of an immediate intake, you can see they’re going through a lot more steps in order to become a client. And then here’s yet another one that’s even longer. So I intentionally build friction into my intake process because I find that really helps me get my ideal client. So this is my intake process. And I won’t go through the whole thing, but there’s also a link to that as well and you can actually save it and edit it if you want to, but people call in It goes to me first, after an automatic conflict check has been run, I use law medics and they just, I believe that feature just became live a couple of weeks ago, which is absolutely fantastic if they’re qualified, and that takes about 10 seconds for me to qualify each lead as they come in, and then goes, the second column or my intake person calls them back. If not, I can just hit one button for whatever it is, if I’m declining them, if I’m referring them to different people, it’s just one button, and then I’m done. If they’re qualified, then my intake person calls back. And at that point, we get more information. For example, if we get someone that you could just tell by the conversation, it might be something that I practice, but their values, or their expectations probably don’t align with what I would take as a client. It’s the same process, we decline them by using the canned emails, which actually don’t really sound canned and the canned texts as well, and includes a whole bunch of information in there that’s relevant to their case, plus referral links. And I found that really helps because there were times I would decline clients and they would just go to Google and give me a one star review saying I didn’t take their case. It was really frustrating. When I found a way to fix that is you give them as much information as possible on the way out out of the door, and then given several referral names so they will go bug someone else other than you is that Python is back if you’re new around here, the ZAP Athan is the OG automation workshop at this next exclusive guild event. We’re partnering up with maximum lawyers good friend Kelsey Bratcher to bring you a day and a half automation workshop. The idea of automation is simple, right? Identify a repeatable pattern of tasks and then use technology. So that business process can happen without you. But setting up that technology can be daunting, time consuming, and even have a steep learning curve. Join us in person and you’ll create automations on site that will start working for you before you even leave Austin, join the guild today and grab your ticket at
max law events.com.
So what do you do after the intake call? So I send three follow up emails, a thank you client reviews and YouTube and then I’m done. So then this is an example of my initial email. Now, some salespeople will tell you that you’ve got to follow up like eight to 10 times. That’s fine. I think for different practice areas that works for family law, honestly, I feel weird about it. Because it’s divorce, you don’t have to get divorced. It’s not like estate planning, you’re gonna die. So you need an estate. And especially since I just found out today, I’m going to die in 2043. But I need an estate plan. Need a mistake player, you don’t need a divorce. So I feel weird sometimes saying, hey, remember, the woman you told me you hated because she slept with your cousin, you still want that divorce. So I just don’t really like to follow up a lot. But that’s just kind of a personal choice that you kind of have to make by yourself. This is an example of a canned email, which is an invitation to call. And you can see there’s a bunch of blue in there. Because those are links, they can send us documents, they can watch videos, they can watch videos specific to their practice area. So it’s just kind of giving them more information to help them feel more integrated with my firm before we even take the case. And this is another example of another email that I send out with more information. So how do you enforce the consistency, hopefully, you have an answering service where you can record the calls, I’m in a one party state. So it’s kind of a non issue. If you’re a two party state, you may want to research that and figure out how that works. But all of our calls are recorded. So I’m able to review them and kind of course correct as it goes along. And make sure that every member of your team delivers the same message every time, and that it’s consistent. So this is a particular intake form that is ugly for landlord tenant. But really the point of this is whatever your intake form is, you can customize the output as soon as the information goes in, you can design your workflow so that they are getting information that’s relevant to their case, because they honestly don’t care about anybody else, but themselves. They care about their case and how you can help them with their specific case. And you can create workflows that really do that, that target the people that are contacting you, and you’re giving them information that they actually need from the very beginning. So this is what my initial email looks like. There’s a lovely picture of me. And that is what I looked like before COVID. Give me six months, I’ll look like that again. But this is what the clients get. It’s an email saying, Here I am, I’m doing flat fees, because that is unusual and family law. So it, it just kind of hooks them in from the beginning. In terms of all my informations there, it’s super easy to find me, it’s super easy to kind of input that information into their phone. So it just made my intake process. Super simple. So now Part Two litigation workflows. So you may want to take some time to review this later. But essentially, a workflow is a process with automation applied on top of it. So process is just basically how you do something. Automation is making sure that you do it. You’re basically applying technology to it. So if you’re finding yourself doing something manually more than once or repetitive tasks, there probably is going to be a way to automate it. And you just have to figure out what software you can apply to make that work. If you’re already using a software probably can do what you want it to do you You’re not using anything, then there’s a whole host of options. And someone’s doing a talk about tomorrow how to pick the best software. But essentially, you’re just applying technology to the workflow. So what is it workflow, it’s really just a checklist with automations. So there’s several ways for them to work. For me, I prefer task lists, where it’s just kind of I just tick off the tasks that I have to do as I go along. Some people prefer it to be much more complex in terms of you got a mediation coming up, you hit mediation coming up, and then all of these states deploy five days before mediation, maybe someone’s filling out a financial affidavit, three days, an email reminders going out to the client, it’s really, there’s just no limit to the amount of tasks that you can assign to a workflow. But you do have to make sure that someone is delegated to take care of those tasks. Otherwise, they’re gonna sit out there and just not get done. So if you want more information on those, these are videos that you can look at. Most of the major practice management systems have videos online already, I cannot find one for smoke ball, but I know they have workflows because I’ve used smoke ball. So it’ll help you deep dive and specifically for your system, figure out how to set up those workflows. So this answers the question, what can you automate? And really, the answer is almost anything, Tasks, Emails, appointments, forms, documents, almost anything that you find yourself doing repetitively, you can apply a workflow to it, and you can automate it. So you start by mapping the process, figuring out who’s going to do each step, who’s responsible for each step, detailing each step, and searching for bottlenecks and other slowdowns, analyzing your data, and creating a plan for improvement. And then making sure you’re getting input from your team as well, super helpful, because if you set up a workflow that is so honest, and obnoxious that your people don’t want to do it, they’re not going to do it. So make sure you get input from your team, since they are the ones that are going to have to deploy it. So this is an example of how I do my workflows. This is a checklist for temporary hearing, these are all the tests that I have to get done before temporary hearing. And usually about seven days before I just go through and make sure all of these are done. So my staff is responsible for making sure these are done. So by the time I get the task list, it’s usually just me reviewing the documents that they’ve already drafted. But, you know, attorneys, we just love to think that we’re super smart, we’re reinventing the wheel every single time. And most times, we’re not in most times, we’re applying the same process to different facts. And yes, there is going to be some kind of tributaries and offshoots, but in general, you’re going to be following the same process every single time. And if you have this process in place, your clients are gonna get consistently good results. So this is an example of my trial prep. As you can see, it’s pretty extensive, and honestly doesn’t even really matter what it says this is just my process and my tasks that I have to get done for trial. And because I use Monday, it’s super customizable. So I can put in each in that blank column who is responsible for what. So at a glance, it’s super easy for me to determine the next step in the process, who’s responsible for it, and what the next one is coming up. This is behind the hood of what my automations are. So for example, if a date has come, and something a deadline is coming up, it’s automatically going to notify the person responsible. And that’s one benefit to monday.com is that it’s super customizable. All the other practice managers do do workflows, I just found this program to be a little easier to work with. Here’s another example of what I do. This is my exhibit list. When I’m in trial, I like to have this is my exhibit list. So it shows the type of document it shows the issue to which it’s related. And then I have columns for admitted stipulated, etc. So our trials are streamed or my paralegals with me, so they can update this in the cloud. So I can see in real time, what the update is. So I found this would be a super fast way for me to get my exhibits in and to also share with the other side. This is just an another example of a workflow I have with my payments, I use law pay law pay goes to my email, which goes directly into this form. So I don’t have to do anything other than total up the amount. So this is because it’s money.com. It’s like a kind of souped up Excel spreadsheet. So it can create KPIs like this based on the data that was automatically entered. I don’t do anything to create this. So I can instantly see where the majority of my payments are coming from the category of the cases etc. So the last thing I’ll talk about is my discovery workflow, and I only have a few seconds to do that. So this is a just kind of a chart that shows where I am in the discovery process. So it’s a lot easier, I think, to put all of my cases on one sheet so I can sort of see where the bottleneck is. But it definitely shows me the status when things are due. It automatically updates on my calendar. These are the automations that I have behind it. So it is automated. So when discovery comes in, there’s going to be a reminder sent to the paralegal. There’s it’d be reminders sent to the client, that deadline is going to be set to the client 33 days from the date that it’s received, because that’s our statutory deadline. So all of these things are built in where we really don’t have to think about it. I have a lot more to say about this topic, but I don’t have time today. So I have actual longer videos, and they are on my YouTube channel as well, where I talk about the test and delegation. And then also we’re talking about the workflows as well. So if you have the time, they’re about 15 minutes each, to kind of discuss what I just did. Just a lot slower. That’s my time and thank you guys so much.
Thanks for listening to the maximum lawyer podcast. To stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content content, go to maximum lawyer.com. Have a great week and catch you next time.