Law Firm Management

Ep 45 – Law Firm Intake – Optimize Your Intake Department

On the show today we talk about law firm intake and the phone mistakes lawyers make with an article by Jeena Cho, and we speak to advertising legend Harlan Schillinger of LeadDocket, about correcting the leaks in law firms intake processes.
law firm intake







Mistakes To Avoid At Client Intake

Today’s Hot Take comes from an article on titled “5 Mistakes To Avoid At Client Intake” by our favorite writer Jeena Cho. She says that “Just like first dates, the initial client consultation or the first meeting holds a great deal of importance.” While this article is directed a little more towards the first client meeting / initial consultation,  these 5 points illustrate everything that can be difficult about law firm intake:

  1. Emotional Insensitivity
  2. Interrogating Clients
  3. Interruption and Distraction
  4. Not Knowing How To Handle Questions You Don’t Know The Answers To
  5. Not Trusting Your Gut/Rejecting Bad Clients

She elaborates on each touchpoint here, and gives examples as well as provides some insight in to how they can be avoided. Overall a great article with great advice, check it out here:

Better Intake For Law Firms

Our guest on the show is Harlan Schillinger. Halrlan has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake and conversion. He has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Along with his work with Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys, Harlan’s latest project is an intake management software company he started to help lawyers improve the process, and turn more leads into cases – LeadDocket –

Law Firm Intake – Identifying Common Mistakes & Misconceptions

In this segment of the podcast interview, Jake and Paul talk about how answering the phone – and who answers the phone – can make a big difference, and Harlan lays down some real talk about what law firms need to do to turn more phone calls in to cases:

Interviewer: So, when you’re talking about accountability, I think two LeadDocket features jumped out at us was the automation and the analytics. Because those are difficult to integrate and understand from a systems point of view for lawyers or people who are helping run law firms. So, what can you do to kind of break apart automation and analytics like as LeadDocket handles it, and how do they bring accountability to that intake process?

Harlan: To answer your first question, it’s a systematic approach with a defined process. There’s a system in place, there’s a defined process. So, the military has a defined process, you have a defined process on how to do homework if you ever really struggled with having to do homework. It’s a workflow. And that’s answering your very first question. The second part of the question and we can come back to the first is keeping track and keeping being accountable. You know, the old joke about having a checkbook, there must be money in it to have checks. And you keep writing checks. The system of accountability is really very easy. Again, I go back to and I always use the expression or the analogy of eating a big steak in a great steak house. You can’t eat a 16-ounce steak, but you sure will enjoy ordering it and you don’t care what leftover because just you’re so full from eating the first half and you can’t wait to come back and pay your bill. You can’t wait to get out there so you can come back. You know, that’s the analogy and intake and running a law firm is somewhat similar. You pay so much and you put so much energy to make the phone ring. And you take a portion of that business.

The majority of the calls that come in are unresolved. They are unresolved for many reasons. Putting aside the crazy people that call a law firm, putting aside the fact that it just simply is not a case and there’s no insurance and, you know, all the particulars. But let’s not put aside, you know, the victim that has to talk to their spouse. Let’s not put aside the victim that’s shopping or that says, “I’m not ready to make a decision.” There’s a myriad of reasons people don’t buy on the first phone call. How do you track all that? Do you track it by paper? Do you track it by an Excel spreadsheet? There’s many ways to track it. I think having a very systematic and defined process of tracking is the most useful way of doing it. It’s not a sophisticated way of doing it, it’s just an accurate way of doing it.

You know, coming from an agency background, it’s really, really important to understand analytics. It’s very important to understand where calls are coming from, where cases are coming from. What’s the value of the case that you’re making the phone ring for? And from an advertising point of view, and I don’t know any advertising agencies that embrace metrics because they too are busy trying to make the phone ring. But I recognized early on that if I can take a good look at where the calls are coming from, where I can point the advertising to getting more calls. So, understanding the analytics, understanding those two factors are the heartbeat of intake and conversion, systematic approach through a defined process. And keeping track, accountability.

Interviewer: We get that a lot too. I’ve heard that, and I think part of it is maybe avoidance like people want to think they’re doing better than they really are. You know, sometimes people “secret shop” a law firm,  there’s companies that will do that and call them up and pretend to have a case or whatever. And I think a lot of times what the firm’s opinion of their intake is and what an unflinching look at it is are kind of two different things. So…

Harlan: One is reality and one is a fantasy and I’ve been right into this, and I’ll be perfectly frank with you, gentlemen, and the audience, there is only one real way to know exactly what’s going on on your phone. It’s to record your telephone calls. I don’t believe in making or I’ve outgrown making ghost calls, making phony calls, the effect is kind of hit-miss. You know, you may, you know, hit somebody on a good day or a bad day. There’s no consistency in that. But what the reality of it is – and almost every phone system can do this, certainly LeadDocket can do this and it’s a built-in feature is – if you record telephone calls you know exactly what’s going on. If you want to get the attention of an arrogant lawyer that says, “I get 94% of everything that I want,” record their phone calls and play it back to them. They will go, “Oh, my God. I didn’t realize that. Oh, really, I didn’t know that.” That is a very polite “I am in such denial that you had to really beat me over the head, didn’t you?” And at that point, keep in mind, only a few people really do something about it, they think they’re doing something about it, but understand the process. I mean, look, you have a problem with a credit card, you have a problem with anything in this day and age. You get somebody on the telephone and they say this phone call is being recorded. It’s being recorded so that you can retrain, know what you have, know what’s going on and eliminate all the bull. That is the only pure profit that that exists.

Interviewer: Man, this is so wonderful and this last question, I think you’ve answered it 50 different ways, but I just wanted you to kind of envision that you’re on your motorcycle and you’re pulling up and you see that there’s a lawyer next to you and it’s obvious that they’re struggling with their intake department. And you can just tell, but you only have the red light to give them a piece of advice. What, like quick pit stop advice, would you give this lawyer about their intake department?

Harlan: I’d say, “Lawyer, record every telephone call. Have metrics in place, stop being in denial. Sit down with me and I’ll show you what you’re missing, not what you’re getting.”

Get More Information About Law Firm Intake Optimizing

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights about optimizing your firm’s intake processes. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—

Ep 36 – Reclaiming Civility in Law

We hit the hot takes buffet with an article from and discuss ethics in the legal profession, and we talk about civility, fake news, and Venn diagrams with the Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, Jayne Reardon.



Ep 33 – Building A Better Law Practice

On the show today we talk about misconceptions about starting a law firm with an article from, we interview attorney, blogger, and author Jeremy Richter and discuss his new book, Building a Better Law Firm.









Ep 31 – SOLO – Freelancing and the Future of Law

We talk about the changing landscape of legal services with an article from – we interview lawyer, podcaster and nerd impresario Mike Whelan about what being SOLO means for lawyers, now and in the future, and why lawyers have to start focusing on disrupting their own industry.








Ep 29- Leadership and Law / Life Balance

We discuss Leader/Life balance with an article from Harvard Business Review, and interview entrepreneur, speaker, and leader of leaders Chris LoCurto about what balance looks like for leaders in the law firm of the future.










Ep27 – Buying Legal; Procurement and the Changing Legal Market

Today we break into big law and legal procurement with an article from – we interview legal procurement guru Silvia Silverstein and learn how big companies are changing the way they approach legal services, and we also discuss the differences between marketing and advertising.









Ep23 – The Write Stuff: Legal Writing and Law/Life Balance

In this episode we talk about legal writing fundamentals, learn why every lawyer is a professional writer, and discover the single biggest barrier to effective written advocacy. We also discuss Life/Law balance and learn about the clash between “working” and “living” in both Canada and the US.



Ep19 – Outsourcing Legal Work

In this episode we touch on the processes involved in legal work and how law firms are defining their workflows and getting the help they need – or not. We also talk with and Virtual Bar Association founder Andrea Cannavina and learn how she helps lawyers and law firms outsource legal work, her system for managing the constant flood of email, insights on delegation, font types and more.

What About Legal Outsourcing?

Today’s Hot Take is an article from The Balance Small Business called “Learn About Legal Outsourcing” by William Pfeifer. In it, he writes:

“Legal outsourcing may be a great way for a busy attorney or law firm to handle complex or time-consuming projects on a more affordable budget. Solo practitioners, small firms, and boutique law practices can take on cases that would otherwise be too large for them to handle. Midsize and large law firms can make their billing rates more competitive by obtaining subcontracted legal services at a dramatically reduced rate. Firms that use legal outsourcing find that it provides all the benefits of having associates and paralegals who perform research and document review but at a fraction of the cost and without full-time employees.”

There is a little good/bad happening here. Among the benefits are reduced costs and quicker project turnaround. BUT – legal work and the jobs associated with it in Big Law are flying overseas, and some companies are beginning to cut out the middleman (the U.S. firm) in favor of dealing directly with the legal outsourcing firms.

Ultimately, our take is this –  lawyers are business owners, and at the end of the day, you want to look for opportunities to grow your practice, and outsourcing is an option. However, in order to do that, you need to find out where in your processes you need help, and to have an understanding of the way things run and the processes involved. Once you can look at things systematically, if outsourcing is your goal then it will be much easier to find places where things repeat or bottleneck and see if you can find a way to outsource it or automate it.

That’s the difference – the future doesn’t belong to people that can multi-task – it belongs to people who can multi-ASK – they are able to see what needs to get done, identify how, and then get that help. Great article worth a read, check it out here:

Improving Law Firm Efficiency While Reducing Costs

With 15+ years of legal secretarial and administrative experience, including working as a top-notch legal assistant in and around some the largest firms in New York City, Andrea Cannavina has thoughtfully developed and thoroughly tested the application of specific technology in law firms in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Since 2001 Andrea has been CEO of LegalTypist Inc. she’s also a master Virtual Assistant and Director of the Virtual Bar Association.  All of that keeps her pretty busy, but she was gracious enough to make time in her schedule to join us on the podcast and we are honored to have her on the show today.

Streamline, Automate, Delegate

In this excerpt from the podcast Jake and Paul talk with Andrea about where to start when looking for ways to improve efficiency and get some tasks off  the busy lawyer’s plate, getting things under control and the different jobs small business owners are tasked with regardless of what it is they “do”:

Andrea: So my big three things –  when it comes to helping people, whether they’re attorneys or regular people or anyone who works in a law office, is first you have to streamline. If you’re not decluttering the office, its systems and the way that you do things, then you can’t really automate as well or you can’t know where to automate because that’s the second half. You have to streamline and you have to automate. And what automate does is it pulls the human to be in the process to the actual last possible parts.

So as much as possible is done before you have to put a human in the mix because of course, let’s face it, that’s somebody’s time. And whether it’s your own time or your assistant’s time, it’s all time that actually you have to pay for, so you don’t want to have to do that. So you streamline so that you get everything as short, and small, and tight as possible. Then you automate everything that you possibly can and then you delegate anything as an attorney or an administrator that isn’t your most important and/or money generating of those tasks. Go to somebody that you actually pay to do for you.

Because your rate that you receive from your client is certainly far higher than you’re even going to pay an outside outsourcing [or] in-house person to do any of these tasks that you’ve now decided are only possible to be done by you, or…I want to say everybody in this day and age works three full-time jobs, especially attorneys who are solos, true solos. They’re the attorney, they have all the court work and client work, and you know, the legal stuff they went to law school to do and they have the business owner stuff. Which the business owner stuff is the making sure that the billing is getting done, making sure the bills are being paid, making sure that all of the stuff there. So they have that whole job.

Then they also get the “gofer” job. That’s the gofer that gets to do and fill in for every freaking emergency generally created because things fell through the cracks at the attorney level, but now they have to be at the call and whim of almost anything else that’s going on out there along with making sure there’s supply, making sure the copier gets done, making sure the mail goes out, making sure the gofer work gets done. So it’s three full-time jobs for every person who’s trying to just exist in business today without the help of streamlining, automating, and delegating.

Get More Information About Delegation, Outsourcing & DAFT-ing

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast episode for more insights and thoughts on improving your law firms’ systems and workflows, identifying processes you can delegate and how Andrea created the DAFT system to win the fight over the exploding inbox. If you want more LAWsome subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, and for the latest in legal marketing insights and information be sure to subscribe to the Consultwebs Newsletter here –>SUBSCRIBE<—



Ep18 – Managing the Modern Law Firm

Managing a law firm can be difficult, but with the right tools and infrastructure in place, lawyers can take back control. In this episode we talk about what it takes to manage a legal practice, and interview lawyer, Legal Tech Evangelist and author Nicole Black from



Ep12 – True Worth – Charging for Legal Services

On the show today we hit the Hot Takes Buffet with an article from on how lawyers establish their rates, and we interview the True Worth Expert, Vanessa Ugatti, and find out how lawyers can charge what they’re really worth.