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Why Lawyers Push Back On Intake, Conversion Metrics and Accountability

Harlan Schillinger, Legal Marketing Expert

If you feel your business is in a place where you don't need to increase it, please don't read any further. After 40 years in the legal marketing business, I'm not about to mince words anymore.

Lawyers are spending a fortune on advertising, but very few have metrics in place to see what they're missing. Often attorneys push back on intake, conversion, and metrics because they're blinded by what's coming at them - and can't see what's actually falling through the cracks.

You can throw more money at advertising, but unless you can increase your conversion rate, you're operating in the dark. If you're serious about boosting your cases and conversions, the first thing you need to do is start paying attention to what's right in front of your nose and what you do not see. What you don't know, you don't know.

Legal Advertising is All About Accountability

While there are some exceptions, a majority of law offices don't know enough about how their business actually works and how successful it actually is or isn’t.

Astoundingly, only about 350 of 3,000 major law firms that advertise in the U.S. are using a software system - rather than a filing cabinet (case management software) - to account for cases. Attorneys are still behind the times, and still buying their way out of marketing mistakes and bad decisions.

So why are lawyers so hesitant about being accountable for intake, conversion, and metrics? If you're prosperous, why not be even more successful? If you're motivated by money, why not look deeper to find out how to make even more profit - more efficiently - while still providing great service to injured victims?

The problem, as I've discovered over many years of interacting with major law firms, is that the legal breed is so good at arguing the case - pushing back- that it has lost the point of marketing and advertising altogether. Why would anyone fight against the very tactics that could create more value for their investment and help their business flourish financially?

That's the conflict I want to resolve right here, right now. I would argue that law firms are actually being negligent when they're too stubborn, afraid or behind the times to look at:

  • How their intake process is really working (typically the biggest hole in the law-firm bucket).
  • Whether or not paid leads are really converting to cases.
  • What metrics are saying about the health of the business.

Remember, what you don't know, you don't know. It's not the time to argue. Now is an opportune  time to redefine your law firm with a few smart moves:

Ask More Questions

To be competitive, you as the owner of your law firm have to stop procrastinating and pushing back - and start paying attention to intake, conversion, and metrics. The best way to do that is to employ an approach that every great lawyer is already trained to do: Ask more questions.

  • What is my true conversion rate?
  • Where are my leads coming from?
  • What's my true ROI on all my advertising?
  • What is coming to· the firm and where is it coming from?

Invest In Software Now!

If you don't have a system in place to track all your metrics, you're kidding yourself. There's no way to gauge your firm's level of success with a case management system. That's just a file cabinet that you put things in and cannot get things out of. If you do, it is difficult. Reports? How is that working for you?

To keep up, lawyers must invest in intake and conversion tracking software. An automated dashboard will allow you to see exactly all the threads of business generation in one location. You won't believe how this investment alone will pay off over time.

Learn How to Read Metrics

Once you have software in place to track everything that comes into your office, you must put someone in charge of drilling down on data. You need to know:

  • Where did this lead originate?
  • How much did this lead cost the firm?
  • Where can we do better in converting each lead to a case?

There's no point in having a software platform if you don't commit to using rich and important metrics to boost efficiency, productivity and profitability. Ask yourself, when was the last time, if anytime, you looked at and understood your Google Analytics? Start there!

Be Accountable and Open

If you're willing to take the leap into 21st-century legal marketing (progressive firms are already thinking about the 22nd century), then you've got to be willing to be open to harsh realities and accountable for your actions. That means learning:

  • How good or bad you're really doing?
  • How much you really spend and where you really spend it?
  • And, most importantly, what's your return on investment?
  • Then put your new knowledge to work for your firm.

I promise, if you take a moment to stop pushing back and start being accountable for your advertising, profits will flow - right back to your pocket.

Oh, by the way, 95% of all lawyers that I have met over my 40 years in legal marketing tell me that they have it under control. They get 94% of everything they want. What does that mean? Are you telling me that your conversion rate is 94% of everything coming at you? Does it mean you get 94% of just the cases you want? I think what they are saying is, they get 94% conversion if they are sitting face to face with a new prospect. Maybe. I don't think so.

Record every new call that comes into your office and you will clearly see what you do not see now.


Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paridise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at  and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake and conversion.

Harlan has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,400 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

He recently retired from Network Affiliates of Lakewood, Colorado, the nation’s first and largest Legal advertising agency, where he was the leader of their attorney marketing efforts for 33 years. Prior to joining Network Affiliates in 1985, Harlan was Vice President and one of the founding partners of Madison, Muyskens & Jones advertising agency in Lakeville, Connecticut. Along with his partners, Harlan founded the first syndication TV production firm for retailers and Lawyers, creating television commercials that aired throughout the United States and Canada.

When asked about his approach to legal marketing and client relationships, Harlan says, "Creating opportunities and increasing market share for advertising law firms is my #1 priority. The value of the case is everything in such a crowded market.”
To that end, Harlan is committed to understanding each client’s business and discovering new opportunities for their growth.

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