For the past six months I have handled all of our client intake over the phone. Depending on the client, and the situation, I might get lots of information, or not enough. Some conversations are quick, others last way too long. Initially, I probably spend more time on the phone trying to pin down all the details of the client’s situation.
Now, I try and get a more general sense of what is going on, and schedule a free consultation to meet them in person. There are many other variables to consider, but there is no doubt in my mind that having more face to face meetings has resulted in more clients.
Establishing a rapport
Much like cross-examining witnesses in person, meeting clients in person lets you judge their credibility. Are there holes in their stories? Does everything fit together? How do they react when you ask penetrating questions about their case? Evaluating the credibility of your client and their case is much easier to do in person.
Rapport is a two-way street. As much as lawyers need to trust their clients, clients need to trust their lawyers. When they meet you in person, they can decide if you are the right person to handle their case. Maybe they want a lawyer with a really nice office, or maybe they want a lawyer who wears jeans.
Dollars and sense
I hate talking about money with clients, especially over the phone. If a client asks, I will absolutely try and give them a ballpark figure. At that point, they do not know me, and all I am throwing out is a number, not a person.
When you meet a client a person, your rate is attached to you, for better or for worse. It is still uncomfortable, but not nearly as much.