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Attorney Answering Service: Everything You Need to Know About Lawyer Virtual Receptionists

updated
October 4, 2022
17 min
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Regardless of technological advancements, some things in the legal profession will never change. Take receptionists, for instance. No matter how futuristic the world gets, most attorneys will still need at least one receptionist to handle incoming communications.

Yes, an attorney can answer calls. But if they are busy, they are likely to miss a few calls. This oversight reflects badly on their operation.

Many small law firms cannot afford to have a receptionist on staff in the office. Fortunately, there is a way for them to get the same benefits of having an in-house receptionist without having to hire a warm body. How? With a legal answering service.

For less money than hiring a receptionist, your firm gets peace of mind that every call coming into the office will be fielded professionally and in the manner that you decide.

When Is It Really Time to Look for a Lawyer Virtual Receptionist?

Lawyer virtual receptionist

The legal answering service is by no means a new concept. However, with technology becoming cheaper and better, more law firms of all sizes are considering going virtual with their receptionist services, particularly when they are looking to:

  • Become more flexible
  • Reduce costs
  • Expand their services

If your firm has any of these goals, it is likely you will benefit from contracting the services of an attorney call answering service.

You Want More Flexibility

Flexibility is important for any business but especially for law firms. Being able to operate outside normal business hours without notice will give you an edge and will lead to better service for your clients.

Flexibility can be costly or even impossible if you have a receptionist who can work only during standard business hours. If you need your staff and receptionist to come in on weekends or to stay longer on a certain day, you might run into problems — unless you have a lawyer virtual receptionist service handling your calls.

You Want to Reduce Your Expenses

Sometimes, expansion requires reduction. In other words, growing your law firm may require you to reduce certain aspects of it, such as payroll costs.

The cost to hire a receptionist begins with the time it takes to advertise and interview for the position. After that, there's the receptionist's salary, along with the resources needed to train and settle them in the office. And don't forget about insurance, taxes, and other required expenditures for staff members.

Now consider the costs of contracting the services of a virtual receptionist for lawyers. You'll bypass many of the expenses required for bringing on a staff receptionist and have more financial resources to plug into other aspects of your business.

You Want to Expand Your Services

Although it is not always possible to predict the future in the legal industry, what is known is that growth is essential for any business regardless of the industry. Expansion should always be on your mind as a law firm, even when business is going well and clients are happy.

As you know, the world does not always respect the standard operating hours that most law firms follow. Expanding your hours of operation can be profitable as you are able to address more clients. However, doing so with a staff receptionist will be costly. For smaller operations looking for low-cost alternatives, a reputable attorney answering service is a fine solution.

Top 11 Answering Services for Attorneys

There are many companies that provide phone answering and website services for law firms needing a low-cost yet highly functioning receptionist.

With that being said, not all answering services for attorneys are created equal. Some have features that others do not. Additionally, you may find that one particular attorney phone answering service jives better with your operation than all the others.

For help deciding which is the best virtual receptionist service for you, read these reviews of 11 of the best companies around.

Abby Connect

Abby connect image

Abby Connect works to connect clients and businesses, leading to business expansion and increased revenue. Law firms that work with Abby Connect get highly-trained receptionists offering services in English and Spanish. Firms can take advantage of an array of services in either the live-receptionist category or the live-chat category.

These services include:

  • Custom answering hours
  • Call announcement and call routing
  • Message management
  • Chat-to-call services
  • 24/7 support
  • Converting calls to clients

Pricing for Abby Connect is reasonable and cheaper the more minutes of service you purchase.

Alert Communications

Alert communications image

Alert Communications has been working in the legal field since 1965. It has helped thousands of law firms and lawyers over the years by providing them with quality service in the area of firm administration.

Because Alert Communications has been around for a long time, it understands how to address the needs of law firms and attorneys who need solutions to various secretarial and clerical issues. Its virtual receptionist services are top-notch and available in both English and Spanish, giving your firm access to a much larger pool of potential clients.

Additionally, the virtual receptionists at Alert Communications are highly trained in legal vocabulary and subjects, so they can interact with attorneys and clients in a language they understand. They also offer various business services that small and large law firms find helpful, such as document delivery, retainer processing, and consultation scheduling.

And of course, these virtual receptionists offer the following standard services:

  • Call answering and routing
  • Message management
  • Appointment scheduling
  • 24/7 availability
  • Spanish and English reception services

Exact pricing information can be learned by calling Alert Communications directly. Month-to-month contracts are available.   

Answering Legal

Answering legal image

Answering Legal works exclusively within the legal field, so you can rely on their knowledge of important considerations when working with law firms. Staff members receive essential training that allows them to provide quality client care for the law firms they serve.

Answering Legal handles the communications of many busy firms with high-client volumes. With that being said, it still manages to give great individualized legal answering and business services to each of the firms it works with.

One great feature offered by Answering Legal gives its clients the ability to receive phone calls before they reach the answering service. If a client does not answer after a specified number of rings, the call will then be routed to the appropriate virtual receptionist. This feature gives you a refreshing degree of flexibility while ensuring that you miss no calls and only take those you want.

Answering Legal offers the following services:

  • Call answering and call routing
  • Message management
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Upgraded call forwarding
  • Outbound calling

Pricing for Answering Legal is easy on the budget. The company even offers a free trial program for new clients. Additionally, firms with high volumes of clients have access to custom pricing.

Back Office Betties

Back office betties image

Back Office Betties is a reputable virtual receptionist service for law firms. It is known for having warm receptionists and quality services. Although it is not as large as its competitor Ruby, its services are similar, with a few features that aren't offered by Ruby.

On top of call answering services, Back Office Betties can also handle some of the day-to-day business duties law firms must engage in, such as processing payments from clients, setting up and managing appointments, and scheduling and managing calls with clients and other law firms.

Back Office Betties also has Spanish-English bilingual virtual receptionists so you can expand your firm's client base. And when you need to make calls but can't at the moment, Back Office Bettie offers outbound calling on your behalf to develop client leads.

Back Office Betties does not offer 24/7 answering services. Instead, its receptionists are available Monday through Friday from 5 am to 5 pm. This is a limiting factor that may not work for some.

Services offered by Back Office Betties include:

  • Call answering and routing services
  • Spanish-English bilingual virtual receptionists
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Message management
  • Outbound call management
  • Payment processing

Pricing for the company's services runs a range, with higher-priced plans at the top of the range for the industry.

Gabbyville

Gabbyville image

Law firms enjoy working with Gabbyville because of the robust services the company offers and its dedication to its clients. Although Gabbyville works with businesses other than law firms, its website makes it clear that it is quite experienced and adept at working with small- to medium-sized law firms.

Various services that this virtual receptionist company offers (and that other competitors like Ruby and Alert Communications don't provide) include outbound calling at a reasonable rate, managing conference calls by setting up bridge lines and coordinating times and dates of calls, and scheduling appointments.

Another interesting feature offered by Gabbyville is direct texting between your firm and the receptionists who handle your communications. This option allows you to reach your receptionist immediately and communicate important information without having to worry about delays.

Gabbyville does not have a mobile app, nor does it use software integrations. It also is not a true 24/7 answering service. Virtual receptionists are available only from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST.

Gabbyville services include:

  • Call answering and routing
  • Message management
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Outbound calling services

Pricing for Gabbyville's services begins well under $500. As you go up in pricing, the costs of its services go down.

Nexa

Nexa image

Nexa is a widely used service that can effectively serve law firms of any size. One of the things that Nexa claims sets it apart from its competitors is its proprietary software and software infrastructure. According to the company, their system is online 99.98% of the time.

Nexa's virtual reception services are not limited to phone calls. The company also fields communications from clients who contact your firm by way of text messages, emails, Facebook messages, and any other digital means of communication. In the modern world, having a service that can communicate using more than the phone is essential to growth.

Nexa also helps law firms handle all of their secretarial and clerical duties, from setting up appointments with clients to scheduling conference calls. Additionally, Nexa helps you filter out the clients who are not a good fit for your firm through lead qualification. Simply inform Nexa of the types of cases and clients you are trying to attract and give your virtual receptionists criteria to evaluate cases.

Services that Nexa offers its clients include:

  • 24/7 call answering and routing
  • Message management
  • Bilingual Spanish-English virtual receptionists
  • Lead qualification
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Responsive tech help
  • Round-the-clock availability

Nexa's services are reasonably priced, with its upper range coming in under the prices of many of its competitors.

Smith.ai

Smith.ai image

This round-the-clock virtual receptionist company is fairly new and offers a full suite of services — including legal answering services — for its legal clients. Not only does Smith.ai answer your phone calls but it also works with the many other methods clients use to contact your firm, including Facebook, text messages, and other digital means of communication.

Smith.ai fields these incoming calls, texts, and messages and helps you convert them into actual clients.

While Smith.ai virtual receptionists help you to increase your client load, they also help you filter out the potential clients who are not right for your business. Not every call to your office is from a client you will end up representing, but much time is spent coming to this realization. Smith.ai will screen clients based on the criteria you put in place.

Smith.ai can also handle many of your secretarial needs, from scheduling appointments and receiving payments for services to making outbound calls.

Smith.ai is not simply a high-functioning virtual receptionist service that offers business growth services; it is a company that extensively uses smart technology to serve its clients. With Smith.ai technology, you can set call priorities, manage your availability, and perform many other actions, all from your smartphone.

Smith.ai services include:

  • Round-the-clock answering services
  • English-Spanish bilingual receptionist services
  • Appointment and call scheduling
  • Outbound call service
  • Payment collection and management
  • Client filtering
  • Service customization

Pricing for Smith.ai's standard plans is competitive. They also have custom plans if you don't find what you need among their available options. However, custom plans may be pricier.

Ruby

Ruby image

Ruby is a great option for growing law firms that need to conserve resources while they expand into the future. The company provides clients with all of the services you would expect from a high-functioning virtual receptionist service, including legal answering services 24/7 as well as on weekends and holidays.

With Ruby, you decide how your virtual receptionist handles calls, from what they say to which actions they should take for specific calls (e.g., take a message or transfer a call). You also get your own personal business number with a local area code and the ability to use this number on various lines whenever you desire.

Ruby also offers high-quality chat services for clients. It has virtual receptionists who are fluent in Spanish and can fully attend to your Spanish-speaking clients. In a world where the number of Spanish-speaking clients is growing, it pays to have a service that can help you translate Spanish-speaking callers into clients.

Another selling point for Ruby is its mobile app. It gives you the power to manage practically all aspects of your virtual receptionist service from your smartphone without having to contact the company directly to make on-the-spot changes to your service.

Ruby has demonstrated a commitment to maximizing its capabilities by taking advantage of various resources from solutions-based groups like Clio, which have programs like Clio Grow and Clio manage. By constantly improving its business operations, Ruby's legal industry clients benefit directly.

When you choose Ruby, you get the following services:

  • Call answering and routing
  • Message management
  • Outbound calls
  • Access to its mobile app
  • Bilingual Spanish-English services

Ruby has various pricing plans available. How much you ultimately end up paying depends on your law firm's needs.

LEX Reception

LEX reception

LEX Reception is a fine choice for your phone-answering needs. It exclusively serves the legal industry, which means its receptionists can provide specialized care for law-firm clients. LEX takes great care in making sure its staff has the know-how necessary to deal with the array of needs legal clients have when reaching out to an attorney for help.

In addition to virtual receptionist services, which they also provide in Spanish, LEX Reception also offers secretarial and commercial services for law firms when desired. Some of these services include legal scheduling and appointment setting, lead generation and vetting, and legal intake 24 hours a day.

For the small, growing law firm, working with a virtual receptionist service that can also help you grow your business can work out to be an optimal situation for your expansion. It can save you time and money. It also helps with efficiency to have much of your business handled by the same company.

Choosing LEX Reception gives you access to the following services:

  • Call answering service and call routing
  • Message management
  • Client intake
  • Bilingual virtual receptionists
  • Lead qualifying
  • Appointment scheduling
  • 24/7 technical help

As far as pricing is concerned, you can't really beat LEX Reception for all of the services they offer.

Posh Virtual Receptionists

Posh virtual receptionist

Posh Virtual Receptionists puts you in charge and lets you determine how much or how little you want its virtual receptionists handling your calls. The company offers more than just telephone answering services. Clients have the ability to choose from various features that will help them expand their law firm's reach, including:

  • Scheduling appointments and conference calls
  • Managing messages
  • After-hours call handling and routing
  • Bilingual virtual receptionist services

Pricing starts under $100 for monthly service plans, with the highest value plans coming in at under $1,000.

LawyerLine

Lawyerline image

As you would imagine, LawyerLine works primarily with lawyers and thus understands their needs as well as how to interact with potential and actual clients. This puts LawyerLine in an excellent position to help law firms and attorneys acquire new clients and retain the ones they currently have.

LawyerLine's business model centers on customized care for its clients. The company does not follow a one-size-fits-all approach and provides each law firm and attorney it works with individualized care that reflects the needs of each client. In addition to phone answering services, LawyerLine offers:

  • Potential client intake
  • Detailed reporting and analysis
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Payment collections
  • Outbound calls

Pricing information can be learned by contacting the company directly.

Things to Be Aware of When Choosing an Attorney Answering Service

The concept of buyer beware applies in the world of answering services for attorneys just as much as it does in most commercial contexts. As a firm owner, you will want to be an informed buyer when you are searching for an answering service for law firm.

You should know that some answering services for lawyers may not be what they appear to be or may engage in certain activities that could be red flags.

It’s Not Really 24/7 Answering

You may be surprised to learn that many of the answering services for lawyers are not really 24/7 answering operations at all. However, they will give the impression that they are when trying to pull in new clients.

Instead, these businesses offer voicemail-only services after hours. This cannot match the quality of 24/7 answering services. By using only voicemail after the business day is over, your law firm faces serious negative blowback on many different fronts.

For example, your clients will uniformly find voicemail to be irritating when they are reaching out to get solutions to their legal problems. The lack of an actual person fielding phone calls could cause further stress on a client in need of help. It may even lead to them abandoning your firm for one with 24/7 live receptionists attending to callers.

On top of that, you will find that voicemail after hours routinely leads to wasted time and significantly reduced efficiency.

With voicemail, you have to pull up and listen to each message as well as take notes while trying to filter out unnecessary information. Additionally, after-hours voicemail invariably leads to a game of phone tag that breeds nothing but frustration and inefficiency.

Contracting the services of a respected virtual receptionist for lawyers will ensure that all who call your office receive the same high level of attention they deserve no matter when they call.

They Might Be Outsourcing

After some careful investigation, you may find that the attorney phone answering service you use occasionally or often outsources your phone answering services to a third-party company.

Although it's not necessarily a negative, outsourcing does add another layer of potential issues in the event of a problem. As a smaller business, you don't need the hassle of dealing with multiple businesses to address communication problems.

Additionally, you deserve to know from the beginning if the attorney phone answering service you use is engaging in outsourcing. Any company that conceals this fact from you should be viewed as suspicious and potentially avoided.

Reducing the Hours

You'll want to make sure that the service you choose provides complete answering services around the clock. Unfortunately, some companies offering this service routinely reduce your coverage on weekends, third shifts, and holidays to save money. Their savings will result in a loss of business for your firm.

Automated Answering Services for Lawyers vs. a Real Lawyer Virtual Receptionist

The world has gone digital, and technology is powering the legal industry like never before. Thanks to many advances in electronics and communications, you can potentially run your law firm without any sort of receptionist. However, doing so can be quite detrimental, even if the technology allows you to.

You see, technological advances have indeed changed the world, but they have not reduced the value of human interaction. In fact, human connection is more valuable today in our world of cold and impersonal automation.

Clients in need of help want to speak to someone when they reach out with their problems. They don't want to be greeted by an impersonal, cookie-cutter message that seemingly downplays their importance as a client.

When deciding on a non-staff solution to your phone needs, you essentially have two options:

  • A law firm virtual receptionist service
  • An automated telephone answering service or system

An attorney call answering service keeps the human aspect of receptionist services front and center. Actual and potential clients will always encounter a human voice when they call your firm for help. And your firm will never have to worry about losing clients in a mountain of digital communication or turning off a future client with an automated message.

On the other hand, choosing an automated phone answering setup gives your firm the type of impersonal feel that can turn away clients looking for human contact.

The Importance of Client Communication

Client communication is still one of the pillars of a successful law firm. And it begins with that first phone call. However, some firms may not have the luxury of employing a dedicated phone person. Fortunately, there is a way to ensure that every call to your office receives the professional attention it deserves.

With virtual receptionists handling your calls, you can focus your energies on your clients instead of worrying about the phone. And you significantly cut down on your operating costs.

Grow Law Firm is a premier, high-performance attorney digital marketing company that offers an array of business services designed to help attorneys like you grow their firm sustainably and effectively. Contact us today and let's talk about your future.

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Top techniques for busy lawyers to bring in more clients in 2022
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December, 9th
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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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