Does Your Law Firm Need a CRM System?


Special Guest: Michael Chasin


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How do you guide your prospective clients through your sales funnel, taking every opportunity to ensure that they’re satisfied with their experience and making it as easy as possible for them to hire you?

Ok, better question to start with: do you have a sales funnel? Do you know what a “sales funnel” is?

To be honest, if you’re already familiar with the concepts of your law firm’s sales funnel, you’re probably not in the market for a CRM system. You, more likely than not, already have one. You have a functioning system in place for guiding your prospective clients and managing your network of referral sources. You’re also, most likely, in a very small minority in the legal profession. Because most lawyers don’t.

That’s what CRM systems are designed for – to help businesses who may not have the clearest idea how best to turn “prospective clients” into “actual clients.” That’s what Lexicata CRM is for law firms – a tool to guide client intake and for managing your relationships with your existing network. Is Lexicata – or even some other CRM platform – right for your law firm? Well let’s start from the beginning.

What is a CRM System?

CRM stands for Contact (or Client) Relationship Management.

A CRM system generally has two different purposes, and it can be deciphered somewhat from its own title – Contact Management & Relationship Management. Depending on the contact, your goals may require entirely different actions, even though the end goal is to drum up business.

The first purpose is for tracking a prospective client. It’s about nurturing that client, to track them from initial contact through retention. The second purpose is about network management – you want to be able to maintain and further develop professional or existing relationships.

What are CRMs traditionally built for?

A lot of practice management solutions will claim to be CRMs, but all they really are is a contact database. A CRM isn’t a list of contacts, that can be done in Excel. A CRM is a way to track your relationship and interact with your clients.

CRMs have been traditionally built for the enterprise system – for companies that need to sell. Those companies are going to get a list of 1000 hot leads, pump their names into a system, and find the best way to direct contact them. This system relies on cold calls and direct solicitation, so the goal is to use available information to familiarize the salesperson with the target prior to that contact, in order to maximize the chances of a sale.

In law, you need a way to keep track of them, maintain the relationship. The major reasons that lawyers seem to have ignored CRM is that 1) they don’t actually convert clients (that’s why Lexicata combines a CRM with a client intake software) and 2) the traditional sales cycle for a law firm is completely different from an enterprise sales company – which is what SalesForce, Insightly and all the other CRMs were designed for.

While there are some areas of law that the traditional enterprise sales system makes sense, particularly when you’re going after clients such as a corporation’s in-house counsel. However, the solo and small firms need a unique approach to CRM. The traditional CRM is overkill for most solo and small firms, and is WAY too technologically complicated. Aside from being totally too expensive, it’s also impossible to make sure that your staff is competent in the program – a legal assistant or a paralegal is not going to be effectively trained on using a CRM because it’s both cost-prohibitive, and not a sufficient part of their regular job for them to be invested in doing it right (as opposed to, say, a commissioned sales person maintaining their own sales leads).

How does Lexicata make their CRM the right fit for law firms?

In my interview with Lexicata CEO Michael Chasin, we discuss at length what makes a great CRM system for law firms. Lexicata stumbled onto the reality that law firms need a different type of CRM the way most great discoveries occur – by accident. While developing their customer intake system, Chasin realized that these law firms really didn’t have a way to ensure that people using their forms received the necessary level of attention to ensure they’d become clients.

There are different purposes and needs depending on the type of contacts. As such, the existing marketplace had CRM systems that purported to address the needs of businesses in dealing with these contacts. But none of the models fit with law firms. However, Lexicata found the elements that worked from non-legal industries and use bits and pieces that work and incorporate them into legal.

What is a CRM truly good for?

The most important and significant concept is “touch points,” or the number of times a prospective client has contact with you having an impact on their interest in retaining your services.

Harvard Business Review discussed the Law of Seven (it takes 7 interactions with a prospective client in order to become truly trusted by that client). The number one reason why a client decides to hire (or not hire) a lawyer is based on trust – regardless how that person was referred to your law firm.

Lexicata’s system for managing prospective clients is based on a number of different touch points. If your client comes through their system, they will have exactly 7 touch points for every one, including reminders, scheduling consultations, emails, and other touch points. Integrations with tools like MailChimp for making frequency and catered content (based on the recipient) is critically important in the client-retention or development process.

Elements of an effective CRM:

Elements are the ability to have consistent interaction based on segmented and catered contact, it’s actually segmenting your contacts (bankruptcy vs business formation vs PI), and quality content to the right people.

There are two distinct types of clients for Lexicata – there are the client intake people and the CRM people. While there may be significant overlap, they do have distinct interests and need to be catered to differently. For example, you’re not going to send the same article to both groups about why a particular CRM process is useful, you’re going to send each group the information that best addresses their specific needs.

The goal is to have the most effective interactions possible. An email saying “hey, just checking in,” isn’t going to be as effective as an email that says “just checking in on your new company, how did the negotiation with your supplier go?” (Assuming it’s accurately targeted, of course.)

It also allows you to provide considerable added value to your clients. For example, you’re a law firm, and it’s unlikely that your clients are going to come to you looking for a quality sign company, or the best roofer, or (at least in your professional capacity) the best brewery in town. But if you have a good measure of all of your clients, when you sign up a new brewery to your client list, you’ll be able to refer them to another one of your clients or contacts who is involved in distribution once your new brewery client wants to grow. Having a full understanding of your client base actually makes you a more valuable contact for your clients, beyond simply your own legal advice, which means it’s that much more likely that they’ll 1) use your services more, and 2) recommend your services to others.

Your network is power – having a 360 view of your contacts can provide an easy way to improve your relationship. Knowledge is power, and harnessing the power of data can help you build

So what does Lexicata do?

Consider them a pre-practice management system.

1) Consultation scheduling, automation, confirmation, task management

2) Online intake forms that automatically add information into your contact system.

3) Get them in the office – document generation (engagement letter, e-sign options, etc.)

So how do you know if Lexicata CRM is right for you?

The real answer can’t be totally confirmed until you try it, but there’s a lot to be said for trusting your peers. Check out what other lawyers that share your practice area, other lawyers you trust, or other firms in your area use and how they like it.