Questions you will be able to answer at the end of this chapter:

  • How should I follow up with leads?
  • How do I handle an angry lead?
  • What should I do if a lead is unreachable?

If you have ever run a marketing campaign for your law firm, you probably realized that some degree of lead processing, that is, contacting the lead and deciding whether the lead has a desirable case, is required. However, the paradigm for following up with web leads is distinct from that of most other advertising mediums.

At some point during your career, you may have rolled the dice with a short television or radio spot. With this model, a potential claimant observes or hears an ad, and then calls the listed number. For the attorney, it suffices to hire a few paralegals or case screeners, depending on the size of the campaign, to handle the inbound interest.

Contrastingly, with web leads, especially Social Security Disability leads, you may have to work more than you have been accustomed to sign the cases. First, you will have to contact the lead. This paradigm shift derives from the fact that, in most cases, web leads result from claimants completing online forms containing their contact information. Once the information is submitted successfully, the onus rests with the attorney to institute adequate contact measures.

Time Is of the Essence

The implementation of prompt, persistent follow-up procedures will play a major role in the return on your internet leads. Most people seeking assistance with their disability claims are in dire need of financial and emotional aid. If they resort to the web for support, you should expect them to complete contact forms on multiple websites. Since you will then likely be forced to compete with other firms to sign some claimants, prudence would dictate contacting the leads as quickly as possible. To offer some perspective, many national firms will call a lead within minutes of its receipt to establish communication before a competitor is able.

You may not reach a lead after the first phone call, but this should not dishearten you. Many attorneys recommend contacting a lead 3-4 times daily, and only after weeks of unsuccessful attempts would the lead finally be deemed “unreachable.” Countless claimants experience harsh economic realities, which may cause intermittent cell phone service that could impede your contact efforts. When phone communication seems unachievable, consider e-mail or standard mail to urge claimants to call you.

Depending on the size of your firm, building the infrastructure to accomplish these follow-up goals may be arduous or even infeasible. Nevertheless, the more time you devote to enhancing the speed and constancy of your follow-up effort, the more likely you will witness a higher ROI on your web campaigns.

The Art of the Follow-Up

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the follow-up process involves claimant education and the occasional deployment of a strategic soft sell. With many areas of law, claimants do not always understand the various nuances and intricacies of the legal process. In terms of Social Security Disability, many believe that the SSA automatically pays out benefits upon receipt of an application. Thus, these people often fail to recognize why third-party representation is beneficial for acquiring benefits that they feel are already owed. However, when they learn that the majority of initial claims are denied and then acquainted with the advantages of third-party representation, these same claimants will often welcome assistance.

Accordingly, you must be willing to employ some degree of “selling” and education to guarantee the highest degree of success with internet leads. Why do I need an attorney? How much experience do you have with Social Security law? What separates you from other firms? These represent just a few of the questions to which you should have convincing responses if you wish to increase your signed rate.


Once you make contact with a claimant, assuming the right tone constitutes a pivotal aspect of the follow-up effort. A case evaluation may have been requested, but the claimant has not necessarily decided to work with your firm. Thus, conveying patience and compassion in your tone will help ease a claimant’s concerns about the disability claim process and enhance the overall quality of the dialogue.

Your frenetic law firm environment may afford you some liberties when addressing your staff, but placing these demeanor on the sidelines will make your services more inviting to the claimant on the other end of the line.

Consider the following scenario:

  • Phone rings.
  • Lead: Hello?
  • Lawyer: Yeah, this is Attorney John. You contacted me regarding your disability case.
  • Lead: [confusingly] I don’t know what you mean. Do I need an attorney to get benefits?
  • Lawyer: [exacerbated] Do you need help with your disability case or not?
  • Lead: [hangs up]

In this situation, the lawyer is not intentionally being rude, but one can easily construe terseness as discourtesy. With minimal adjustment to tone and diction, the previous conversation could have transpired very differently. While a resolute demeanor may reflect your zeal for assisting a claimant, you certainly do not want to steamroll a lead off the phone. Casually dictate the course of the conversation, and you will ensure that your time is utilized efficiently while not seeming too abrasive in the process.

Consider another example:

  • Phone rings.
  • Lead: Hello?
  • Lawyer: Hello, is this David?
  • Lead: Who is this?
  • Lawyer: I was just calling about the form David completed online regarding his disability case.
  • Lead: This is David.
  • Lawyer: Hi David. Is now a good time to discuss your case?
  • Lead: Yes it is.

As this example exhibits, by simply adjusting your delivery, the direction of the conversation changes entirely. Something as trivial as asking whether it is a convenient time to speak demonstrates your willingness to accommodate the claimant’s schedule. Even if the claimant says that it would be ideal to call back later, do your best to obtain as many details about the case as possible. Connecting with a lead represents one of the most challenging obstacles to succeeding with internet campaigns. Thus, when you do finally make contact, make every effort to resolve it, as your ability to reconnect is uncertain.

Let’s look at another dialogue:

  • Lawyer: Hi David. This is Attorney John. I am calling about the form you completed online to request a free evaluation of your disability case. Is now a good time?
  • Lead: No. Can you call back tomorrow?
  • Lawyer: No problem, but before I hang up, can I ask you just a few very quick questions to see if you have a good case? It says here that you have COPD and back problems. Are you seeing a doctor on a regular basis for this?
  • Lead: Yeah, every two weeks for the back and once a month for the COPD.
  • Lawyer: And you aren’t currently working, correct?
  • Lead: Yeah, I stopped working about six months ago. I just can’t do it anymore with my condition.
  • Lawyer: What do your doctors say?
  • Lead: They say that I shouldn’t be working anymore with my condition.
  • Lawyer: Have you applied for SSD benefits before?
  • Lead: Yeah, a couple months ago and I was denied.
  • Lawyer: Okay, well it seems that you may have a case that we can help you with. If you want, I can ask you a few more quick questions and we can take it from there, or I can follow up with you later. Since you were denied, you have to appeal before a certain deadline, so we should go through these questions as soon as possible. Let me know how you want to proceed.

In this conversation, the attorney has made a quick judgment based on the information the claimant listed on the web form that this individual may have a strong case. Surely, the strategy was a gamble, since the claimant, clearly possessing little desire to speak at the outset of the dialogue, could very well have hung up instead of responding to the attorney’s follow-up questions. However, with patience and a little finesse, the attorney managed to identify that the case was worth pursuing and to keep the claimant talking.

The dialogue underscores the importance of passive persistence. Signing leads is hard work, and you must be willing to ask questions even in the face of modest resistance. More importantly, the attorney has imparted a sense of urgency to the claimant, in the hope that a looming deadline may prompt further discussion.

If the claimant is willing to speak, you will want to drive home a few points. First, you should explain the benefits of your services, namely, accurate document preparation, handling all communication with the SSA, representation at the hearing stage (if necessary), and more. Next, underscore the fact that you never receive compensation unless you succeed in obtaining benefits for the claimant. Further, mention that the SSA limits your fee to 25% of the first back pay check, or $6,000, whichever amount is less. Since many applicants find themselves in difficult economic circumstances, if they then believe that upfront money will be required to secure representation, it is no surprise that the prospect of hiring an attorney would be disconcerting. By anticipating a claimant’s concerns and accentuating your expertise in Social Security law, the follow-up process should transpire in a much smoother fashion.

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