When Sally Consumer wants to find a lawyer to help with her dog-bite case, she is most likely to hop on the Internet to find lawyers who provide that service, are accepting new clients, and are close to her geographically. And, because she is accustomed to scheduling services online, she expects to be able to schedule an in-person or telephone appointment with the attorney using online scheduling.
What is Online Scheduling?
Online scheduling is a FREE tool now available on your SBM Member Directory. It allows clients to request an in-person or phone appointment with you over the Internet in just a few clicks. Appointments can be set for the next four hours, tomorrow, or selected future dates.
How do you opt-in for the free online scheduler?
Sign in to the directory using your SBM member username and password. Click on your profile. Once you get there:
- Click on Actions
- The box for appointments will appear, click on it
- Complete the form that appears
The form allows you to enable appointments, select either or both in-person or telephone appointments, the length of appointment, and if there is a fee. You can also set the hours and days you will be available.
What information about the matter do you receive?
The form Sally completes asks her the type of legal issue, the name of the opposing party, and her phone number. The information she shares is limited, thereby minimizing the risk of receiving confidential information that might create ethics obligations under MRPC 1.6 or conflicts with existing or former clients.
Sally is also warned to avoid divulging confidential information. The following statement is on the form: "Please do not send confidential or sensitive information. Zeekbeek reminds you that no website, including this one, can guarantee that the information you submit will be privileged or stay confidential. Also, know that no attorney-client relationship is created by your e-mail. The lawyer you are e-mailing is not your lawyer until he or she formally agrees to be your lawyer and can refuse to represent you for any reason."
How do you know if someone has requested an appointment?
Once an appointment time has been selected, an e-mail message is sent to you. You can choose to accept, reject, or reschedule the appointment.
How does Sally use the appointment scheduler?
Sally fills out the search form seeking a personal injury attorney. Six hundred names pop up, however, when she clicks the boxes for those both accepting clients and accepting appointments, only three names appear. She clicks on the one closest to her, completes the form, and clicks send, confident the lawyer will respond.
What are the advantages of appointment scheduling for Sally?
One, the appointment scheduler is available on her phone, tablet, laptop, or desk top, and two, it is available to use 24/7.
What are the advantages for you?
Essentially, the same as Sally. Your office is open 24/7 and can be accessed on all devices. The service also drives consumers to your website.
Please note that of the 600 plus lawyers Sally found that satisfied her criteria, only 3 indicated that they were both accepting clients and had enabled online scheduling. For you to be one of the lawyers contacted by Sally, simply take a little time and add the accepting consumer clients and online scheduled appointments features to your profile.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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