For anyone who has attended any of our personal injury law firm conferences you have probably heard Chad Dudley say that consistent client contact is the “secret sauce” to increasing a firm’s average fee. I like to take that one step further and say that MEANINGFUL consistent client contact is what will truly set your law firm apart from all of the settlement mills of the world and ultimately increase your average fee. The most common complaint we hear from clients looking to obtain new counsel is that they never heard from their previous legal team. Often these individuals sign a retainer agreement and never hear from their attorney or case manager/paralegal unless they initiate contact with their legal team. When you have paralegals, case manages, and attorneys speaking with clients on a consistent basis you not only build a relationship with clients that will lead to referrals, Google reviews, & repeat business; you are also allowing yourself to be clued in on issues and injuries the client might not be aware of.
The First 24 Hours
All new clients should be contacted by the Case Manager/Paralegal within 24 hours of signing up with your personal injury law firm. During this time your case managers/paralegals should be collecting information from the client that will allow the legal team to explore treatment for injuries and any additional insurance policies that client might have access to. More importantly you are setting the precedent with the client that your law firm cares about their injury and they are more than just a case number. During this call, it’s important that your firm sets the expectation for the frequency of communication the client might expect in the coming weeks and months.
Typically we expect personal injury law firms to reach out to their clients once every 15 days for the first 90 days and then once every 30 days until the case is closed. Does contacting a client twice a month for three months sound insane? Maybe, but it’s not. The first 90 days of treatment after an accident are crucial and often times are when gaps in treatment are going to arise. By maintaining this level of contact with your clients you are not only reinforcing the idea that you genuinely care about the client, you are also assisting them in receiving quality medical treatment they may not have otherwise received.
After the first 90 days you should have been able to identify any serious injuries and hopefully helped the client to obtain treatment with specialist providers allowing the legal team to step back and check in with the client every 30 days instead of every 15. During these 30 day check-ins it is absolutely crucial that your case managers/paralegals are having meaningful conversations with the clients and notating the files to properly reflect these conversations. Make sure they are notating injury treatment and improvements.
So, why is notating a file on a regular basis important? If you have been in the personal injury industry long enough, you likely have heard heartbreaking stories of missed injuries that the law firm did not know about or symptoms that were overlooked, causing a missed diagnosis and were only discovered after the firm had settled the case for far less than it was really worth. Or on the other side, you have heard fabulous stories of a personal injury law firm that was not happy with the client’s treatment progression and pushed for more testing or better medical care resulting in the discovery of undiagnosed injuries and maximizing their client’s case value. Making properly detailed notes is the key to recognizing possible treatment issues; especially if the case manager/paralegal and attorneys’ case loads are over 80 files. It is difficult to remember all the details when speaking to 80 clients on a regular basis. Let’s be honest, I do well to remember when to take my kid to the doctor, let alone treatment plans and injury progressions for more than 80 clients.These notations should also include all attempted contacts including the type of attempted contact (phone call, e-mail, text message, letter, etc.) with a time/date, and the legal team member making the attempted contact. These notations can act as a diary or log in the event a client were to make false accusations about the law firm not contacting them. As we all know, the number one bar complaint is failure to communicate.
Need More Information?
You may be asking yourself how does my firm implement client contact processes and procedures? The great news is, regardless of the size of your personal injury law firm or the type of case management software you currently use, this is something that is easily implemented and executed. At Xcelerator we have developed a series of questions outlined in a template that allows even the most inexperienced case manager/paralegal to provide your clients with top rate service. From the initial call to our 30-day client contact procedure we have you covered. We are happy to talk through implementing this process, contact email@example.com