Reach new clients with chat tools for your law firm’s website
Did you know that bringing in new business is one of the top challenges for lawyers? The good news is that effective marketing is a perfect antidote to this problem. Unfortunately, most lawyers know very little about legal marketing, and with so many online and offline marketing choices available, it can be difficult to determine which ones will work best for a law firm's needs.
Before the internet, legal marketing was a bit simpler, although oftentimes more costly. Yellow Pages, park benches and billboard ads—along with radio and TV spots—were par for the course for some law firms. If you wanted to reach a lot of people, those were your primary channels, and none was cheap.
These days, lawyers have a lot more options, many of which are far more cost-effective than the old-school methods. The problem is that the increased choices complicate matters and can make legal marketing more confusing than ever, especially as we work and engage with one another online with increasing frequency.
There’s no immediate end in sight for the remote work trend, and as a result, legal consumers are becoming more accustomed to obtaining information through websites from both online content and interactive features. Instead of picking up the phone to have questions answered, they often prefer to find answers online. This means that your law firm’s website serves as the firm’s virtual front door.
One way or another, you need to be able to provide the answers they’re seeking, as long as doing so doesn’t violate ethical guidelines and inadvertently result in the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Otherwise, you risk losing business to more responsive competitors. That’s where website-based chat tools come in; they’re one of the best frontline marketing tools for law firms.
Chat tools for lawyers
Chat tools are an affordable and practical way for law firms to provide potential clients with information and can also be used to obtain intake information from them. By taking advantage of live chat tools or AI-powered chatbots, your firm will be more responsive and ultimately, more successful.
There are many chat tools for lawyers, it’s simply a matter of finding the right one for your firm’s needs. I wrote about chatbots a few years ago, and since that time, there are more chat tool options available than ever. What follows are some of the more popular website chat options for lawyers.
Note, however, that this article is not all-inclusive, and no matter which one you choose, you will be entrusting some of your law firm’s confidential client data to a third party. Accordingly, you have an ethical obligation to thoroughly vet your chosen provider, since all data will be housed on servers owned by a third party. This duty includes ensuring you understand how that company will handle the data; where the servers on which the data will be stored are located; who will have access to the data; and how and when it will be backed up—among other things.
Many chat tools to choose from
With that in mind, let’s take a look at chat tools for lawyers.
First, there are the virtual receptionist services, many of which offer chat tools for your firm’s website. Both companies below integrate with many different law practice management software systems.
Ruby and Smith.ai both provide standalone live chat tools. Ruby provides live chat and pricing starts at $129 per month for up to 10 chats. Smith.ai offers both live and AI-powered chat tools. The free AI chatbot provides a “personal assistant” that can be added to your firm’s website. It captures leads, completes client intake and schedules appointments. Smith.ai also offers staffed chat tools with live agents starting at $10 per chat for up to 20 live chats, and beyond that the price per chat is reduced based on the subscription plan you sign up for. Full pricing information is available here.
Next, there’s Gideon, a chatbot developed for lawyers and co-founded by Jared Correia, a well-known law practice consultant and adviser. Along with his co-founder, Elan Fields, Correia created this chatbot service with the goal of streamlining client intake for law firms. Gideon chatbots can qualify leads, route calls, schedule appointments, create new client matters and assemble documents based on chatbot responses. Pricing is not available on the website. Gideon integrates with a number of law practice management systems.
Another option is LawDroid, which is a company that creates customized automation tools for law firms, including chatbots. Some of the tasks that can be accomplished using chatbots include client intake and appointment scheduling. Pricing is not available on the website and will be dependent on the specific task that your firm needs the chatbot to perform.
There are a few other legal-specific chatbot options to consider as well including YoTengoBot, which is designed for use by immigration lawyers and assists with client intake. Pricing starts at $89 per month for up to 100 monthly active contacts.
Another option is KLoBot, which lawyers can use to create custom-built chatbots for their firm. Pricing is not available on the website.
The bottom line: you have plenty of options if you’re in the market for a chat tool for your firm’s website. You’re certainly not limited to the ones listed above and will find that there are many different types of chat tools available that can be tailored to your law firm’s needs at varying price points. No matter what your firm requires, one way or another, you’re sure to find a chat tool that’s a perfect fit!
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York-based attorney, author and journalist, and she is the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, a company that offers legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She also is co-author of Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for ABAJournal.com and Above the Law; has authored hundreds of articles for other publications; and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.