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The Important Role of Empathy Training in Legal Intake

empathy in legal intake

Many law firms serve clients who are dealing with tough, emotionally-charged situations. This is especially true in the areas of family law and personal injury law. These clients usually have to recount traumatic experiences to explain their situation, which causes their emotions to run high. For this reason, it is essential for lawyers and other staff members to be able to show compassion and patience when speaking to new prospects. That’s where empathy training comes in. Empathy training is a process which allows a law firm staff to develop the skills needed to speak with potential clients who may be emotional, traumatized, and/or challenging.

Distinguishing Empathy from Sympathy

Although empathy and sympathy may be similar concepts, there is an important distinction. Both are intended to provide comfort to another person. While sympathy involves expressing compassion for the other person, empathy involves actually sharing in the other person's emotions. For example, a legal intake professional may express sympathy by saying, "I'm sorry to hear that." To show empathy, on the other hand, the intake professional might say, "I understand what you are going through and you are not alone." Showing empathy is meant to provide the caller with support and reassurance so that he or she feels safe discussing these important issues with the law firm staff.

The Importance of Empathy in Legal Intake

When a caller reaches out to your law firm, the person answering the phone has a chance to make an emotional connection. Displaying genuine empathy will make the caller feel at ease and encourage him or her to become a client. On the other hand, showing any insincerity or saying something apathetic and offensive will often lead the caller to continue his or her search for a legal representative.

How to Show Empathy

In-depth empathy training is the best way to make sure your staff knows how to display empathy when taking calls. However, some basic tips for showing empathy are listed below.

  • Listen to the caller. Before saying anything, your legal intake staff should give the caller a chance to express feelings and explain the situation.

  • Look for common ground. Legal intake professionals can connect emotionally with the caller by looking for shared experiences or feelings and identifying them.

  • Address the client's concerns. The best legal intake professionals will be able to accurately repeat the client's needs or concerns back to him or her and address them effectively.

If you want to maximize conversion rates, empathy in legal intake is essential. Expressing empathy ensures a strong emotional connection with the prospect, thus encouraging him or her to trust your firm to handle the case. Alert's intake specialists undergo an ongoing, intensive training process, which includes empathy training. It also includes instruction in legal terminology, as well as developing the ability to direct calls properly for maximum efficiency. Partnering with Alert Communications can help to provide a more personal experience for potential clients, and it can improve the overall quality of your legal intake process.

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Tags: Call Answering Best Practices

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On the Alert Communications Blog we're publishing articles dedicated to helping your law firm improve client intake and increase marketing ROI. Our team of experts regularly research, report on, and write about topics that help us super serve the legal industry, and specifically the personal injury and mass tort sectors.    

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