Episode 43

Published on:

15th Feb 2024

Master Law Firm Growth with Community Support, Speedy Lead Response, and Intake Automation

In this value-packed episode of Your Practice Mastered Podcast, Richard and I chat with Joe Ruotolo of Intaker about how community support, speedy lead response, and intake automation can boost law firm growth. Joe shares how he helps firms leverage tools like chatbots and text messaging to connect with prospects faster. We discuss the huge impact of quick follow-up, with an example of how our texting strategy increased connection rates from 3% to 67%! Joe also gives a sneak peek at forthcoming AI advancements that will further streamline client intake. 

If you’re looking for actionable ways to drive more conversions, you’ll find this episode full of specific tips and takeaways. Tune in to pick up key insights on nurturing leads, automating workflows, and creating raving fans.

Richard James: [:

Joe Ruotolo: I think it is, and listening to that question, it reminds me it's probably not too different from when you have a community around your chosen faith, right? Is when you go and you're able to have those shared experiences, learn from other people and just get to learn from that community and become plugged in, become part of it that's gonna fill you on a spiritual level.

ing to manage a team, grow a [:

There's just so many things that you learn just because you've all been doing it before, some are early in the process, others have, have been doing it for decades, and it's their turn to give back, and that's what keeps them, that's their drive at that point. But if you think about it, I've been in places in my life where, you know, I was in a community of faith and then other times where I didn't have that.

And I can just tell you, for me, that is such a big part of showing up feeling ready to take on whatever the challenges are and both in faith and in business and in my personal life as well. Having that community I think is kind of the secret sauce.​

Introduction and Welcoming the Guest


MPS: Hey, law firm owners. Welcome to the Your Practice Master Podcast. We're your hosts. I'm MPS.

ichael, because Joe has been [:

So Joe Ruotolo, did I say that right? Ruotolo, correct? From Intaker is here with us and he is gonna share with us some insights. So, Joe, welcome to the show today.

Joe Ruotolo: Ah, thank you very much, Rich and Michael for having me.

MPS: Absolutely. No, we appreciate it. And Joe, I've been lucky enough to obviously through our events, get to know you a lot more and call you a friend, which has been exciting. So, I'm looking forward to today's conversation and have no doubt you're gonna be able to provide a ton of value.

Getting to Know the Guest: Joe Ruotolo


MPS: One one of the things we like to do to kick things off, warm the audience up a little bit is what's something that maybe not everyone knows about you?

as been in my blood for many [:

And that was my, feels like a lifetime ago, but playing drums and getting into, whether that's rock or jazz, either way, music has just been in my blood and being able to collaborate, connect, and, you know, so much of what, I did for years, in different bands and situations like that.

e picture, the vision, where [:

It just reminds me of the same kind of creative energy that was driving me for years in music and it's cool. No one really asked me that question before, Michael, so I hope that wasn't too much of a you know, out there response. But yeah, it used to be music now is business, so let's go.

Richard James: we have a musician.

MPS: An out there response.

Yes, I, your, your other son, Rich. I remember at one of the Partners Club events, who live in Arizona, we had a chance to meet and connect and talk a little bit, you know, talk shop about music and production. And it is, hey, we all have something that gets us inspired, that drives us and whether that is something purely creative for entertainment like music or whether that is like impacting lives through creating a business, whether that's a law firm or whatever it is, just like what you and Michael are doing, creating the impact, it fills the spirit with something that I don't know what to call it, but keeps me juiced the juice of life.

reciate you sharing that and [:

But for you, I love that music was that path for you. Now, you were in music for a while and then obviously you started this journey with Intaker.

The Journey of Working with Entrepreneurial Attorneys


MPS: So, why don't you walk us through your high level marks of the journey working with entrepreneurial attorneys.

Joe Ruotolo: Good question. Throughout my time here, I've been working with attorneys about four years, and in that time , I've gotten to know a few of my clients quite well and kinda like you might see them at events, get to know them, call them friends, and they're relationships that matter to me.

ple that are more focused on [:

And that could be something that is important and something that is urgent. But that problem and there's always gonna be that next problem, that never goes away. There's always gonna be something else that is on their heels and that they're having to be whatever that's staying up late trying to solve problems or trying to help their team close the gap and whatever those problems are in their business, those attorneys and those business owners you know who stay there, that's like their emotional home, I see them struggle. I see them struggle a lot.

keep their eye on the prize, [:

is transformation of energy, [:

And I think part of it is, what you teach about thinking in systems. For some of these business owners that may be different than what they've experienced or learned before. But the other huge part of that is a community, having a community of people that have been there, done, gone through those problems.

And that you can learn from, because oftentimes if there's people in these communities, they're 'cause they wanna serve, they wanna help. They know that the secret to living is giving and so they wanna share some of their wisdom, and I said before, I'm not sure what is the shift for people to get from a survival to something where they're really moving towards that, their destiny, that they're proud of.

where someone can shift from [:

The Power of Community in Overcoming Challenges


Richard James: So if that's the case, and I agree with you. I, What you just articulated I think is very accurate. Let's juxtapose that, so you've, worked with people who have been in communities, not just our community, other communities as well, and you've, I'm assuming, worked with law firms that are not in community.

Is it fair to say that law firm owners who are in community tend to be more in touch with that secret, something that requires them to go from chaos to freedom or surviving to thriving, then those who are not in community. Is that a fair statement?

en faith, right? Is when you [:

That few other things can really give you that gift. And I would say it, it's probably similar, not exactly the same, but I think it's similar enough in business when you're part of that community, you know, for, business owners where there's that shared understanding of what this is all about in terms of trying to manage a team, grow a company, deliver for your clients, right?

community of faith and then [:

And I can just tell you, for me, that is such a big part of showing up feeling ready to take on whatever the challenges are and both in faith and in business and in my personal life as well. Having that community I think is kind of the secret sauce.

And like you said, Rich, it doesn't, there's not just one type of community. I think it's kind of the responsibility of everyone to learn what lights them up, what gets them motivated, what gives them passion and then find a community of other people in alignment with that ideal. That's why I love Partners Club. It was my first, it was my entry point to the world of this idea of a mastermind.

Really didn't know what a mastermind was before I learned, before I met you and blame and the rest of the team. But it is something that I've been modeling in my own life since then. So, yeah, community is where it's at. I think I'll stop there.

aid by adding a little quick [:

And so I didn't expect you to answer it this way and so I love that you have without divulging any details, I had a family member that reached out to the family and had, was struggling with some personal stuff. And really was looking for a, not an intervention, but they were looking to connect with the family because everybody's remote these days, we all live across the country.

through so much, thought in [:

And they, instead of the fact that there is this community of people who all of a sudden came around them and said, oh no, no, no. I suffer with that same thing. Like I have that happen to me too and another one goes, yeah, that happened to me yesterday and another one was like, oh my gosh, I had the worst day today because of that thing.

And all of a sudden this light bulb moment happened for this individual, like, oh, like I'm not alone anymore. I'm with some people who absolutely are going through what I'm going through, and so my experience has been regardless of the community, and I have been in communities, as you said, for faith.

which I call Butcher, Baker, [:

I obviously lead a community with MPS, and I will tell you that there's no necessarily wrong answer. The wrong answer is feeling like community is supposed to be for rah-rah, or motivation. Sure, sometimes that happens, but really what community is about is that shared mind, it's about the shared emotion of not feeling alone anymore.

Like feeling like there's somebody else who gets you, who you can safely tell about your crap and they're not gonna judge you 'cause they have the same crap. And so you have this freedom that comes with it that allows you to get rid of all the other stuff we have in our life that with the masks that we wear for the rest of the world, and consequently the masks that we wear for each other ourselves as we look in the mirror and we're aligned to ourselves about the truth.

realize they took off their [:

And all of a sudden that creates a place of growth and that's where the growth and the magic happens. And so that's my personal experience and I literally just witnessed this recently in a non-business setting, a non-faith setting, just family having stuff go on and getting around in community to have that taken.

MPS I don't know if you have a different take on this.

No, I think you're right. And I think it's when you suffer in silence and you can only suffer in silence for so long and then it's not until I think you actually take the leap of faith to put yourself in front of community, that you can have that aha moment. But once you get there there's just something about the energy that changes.

om with people that are like [:

Most of the time when I'm getting on a call with a new potential client, a lot of their problems can be solved with just having other people around them that can help support them and talk through their journey and work through the low points and the high points, and just success leaves clues, so just give them that path forward. So yeah, I think community is essential for anybody in anything that you're doing is to be able to plug in.

The Role of Technology in Law Firm Intake Process


MPS: Now, Joe, I'm curious because obviously, you're with Intaker, or so, you guys solve a very specific problem for attorneys. For you, what do you find is that one thing when they get to you, that they seem to be doing incorrectly or led them to you in the first place?

question. So for people who [:

Joe Ruotolo: It comes down to one of two. So the first would be in, they all relate to their intake, but the first relates to, using products like web chat, to get essentially more leads in the door, which we know is a trend that's just exploding. I mean, especially, Live Chat, then moving into chat bots and now into a lot of the you know, AI, generative, AI tools like ChatGPT.

ealize what they can achieve [:

When chat leads come in, I can give you two examples, right? And I can use some other products out there. I won't name names, but there's a few live chat products that are very popular on the market that have been industry standard for more than a decade now for one of them which is great. It's given people another chance, another avenue to reach out because not everyone likes to have a phone call on the consumer side.

could be sensitive. However,[:

You know, When you put that responsibility onto your intake team, just for that initial qualification, not even a full intake, I'm talking about deciding are they even ready to do a full intake or is this someone who's does not have an issue you can help with. You know, that could be based on a state, that could be based on like a different practice area, issue or it could be based on something like, you know, if it's a personal injury lead, when did the accident happen, right?

irm is, it sounds small, but [:

And the other part of that is on the intake side, being able to use, you know, I mentioned chat as something that increases, it's just more accessible for certain communities, especially younger consumers, Gen Z, millennial. But then the other part of that is are you communicating the way they prefer to communicate, right? So thinking of like, is your law firm serving clients and the way clients wanna be served?

And I can point to texting as one way that law firms often if they come to us, they're looking at technology that they can use and maybe they come for chat, but turns out that they're not necessarily using things, like text messaging in their leads and maybe they're doing it with their clients, which is great because clients like it too.

t? They have to like, get in [:

So for law firms that are looking to just create an easier intake experience or client experience, new client experience using things like not just chat, but texting, SMS and being able to Automate it where it makes sense, but then allow your team to give that personal touch and go in there on a one-to-one human level as well.

e's often some gaps that are [:

But something that we've done is try to create a solution that is essentially all-in-one for Intake technology and automation.

Richard James: Joe, you, really hit on a bunch of very important points. I'm going to draw out of them one that I think is important. MPS I'm gonna ask you a question. I'm gonna put you on the spot. We're gonna do some public math here, but do you remember what our increase in conversion or connection was and maybe overall conversion was when we started adding chat into our new lead communication?

% [:

Richard James: So

MPS: Averaged it out, I would say,

Richard James: You were saying chat, we mean text or just, I wanna make sure we're getting it right.

MPS: Yeah. Text. Sorry. Text, yes.

Richard James: Okay, got it.

MPS: Yes. So when we started implementing text, we saw 67% connection rate. I mean, put the two on a scale and pick one. You're gonna pick the 67% every single time, right? So that's the public math for you.

Richard James: Yeah. Okay. So, Joe, my point is, and my question is, when you run into new potential clients or maybe existing clients. If they haven't been in a community like ours where they heard it before and they've come out from the cold per se, and they're just a law firm that has never really invested a lot of time in business development or mindset development or masterminding or community or anything.

The Impact of Speed in Client Conversion


overall effectiveness? That [:

Joe Ruotolo: It's a good question. If I had to generalize, I would say no. I would say that there's certain level of attorneys out there who they may have built a practice that is crushing it because they've been crushing it for decades. They might be leaders in their market and they might be working with different marketing agencies, consultants and folks like that who may help steer them in some of these directions.

With or without a community they're a part of, but for so many other business owners and law firm owners who might not have access to kind of the best world-class resources in terms of some of those things. You know, a community is, I've experienced it myself.

who have tried these things [:

And I mean, Rich, you I know you're part of the community is different business communities and you're able to bring lessons that you learn about what's coming next and automation and AI and the things that you're doing with your practice master, you know, and help deliver that to your community of law firm owners. And so it's not like when you're just in a community, there's different levels of experience that come through.

You know, one is that peer-to-peer, but the other is, you know, communities often bring experts. You know, when you have a community that allows you to invite in others from outside of your industry or outside of your bubble to help get you up to speed on what's happening in other areas of the industry or of just the business landscape in general.

And it's pretty cool. I think Mike McCallewitz was a gentleman that was part of one of the Partners Club events a year or two ago and getting to hear him speak and his like, take on it, which he is not in legal, I mean, he, I think wrote correct me if I'm wrong, but like the profit first, accounting, etc.

ferent world, but now he you [:

heir hand and say, maybe you [:

Maybe hundreds in your market depending on where you live, who might not be using those tools that are meant to deliver that empathy. Create that connection and ultimately drive people to because hey, if you're listening to this podcast, you probably care about your business and your community a lot more than the average person in your market.

And so I would say if you can use that to your advantage, you already have the tools inside of you. And if you're plugged into community like Richard's or something else, it's just gonna help the magic happen even faster. All we do at Intaker is offer technology to help bring more of you to the surface so that your folks who need help that you can deliver can find you and, say yes.

good friend of the community [:

And so, just real quick follow up on what you said. Scale of 1-10, one being not very important at all, 10 being like oxygen, how important it is in your experience to make sure the speed at which you get in touch with your prospect who has reached out to you as fast as possible.

How important is that on a scale from 1-10?

Joe Ruotolo: Rather than give you a number, let me give you, let me say it like this.

Richard James: Okay.

Joe Ruotolo: There's two real personas you can imagine here. One is a warm referral. Someone gave this person your card, your phone number said, Hey, you know, call Richard. He is, I trust him. He is gonna take care of you, for referral-based business.

erral business at this point [:

For a consumer looking to hire an attorney, it's four. Between three and four law firms that they contact for any given legal issue. And so, you can just imagine that if this person contacted you, they may have contacted three other firms before they even reached out to your firm. And if you delay, if you don't take action right away, and if you're not using technology to help, because we're also busy, even your team.

have to have compassion. We [:

So using technology to help reduce that connection time is one of the most important things between generating leads and then actually turning that into results into business, into clients that you're serving that are, that's like the, one of the most important things. So to answer your question, it would have to be a 10, especially if they are someone who doesn't know you personally if they find you online.

The reason is, if it's not you, who's gonna get back to them first is gonna be someone else and we know that most often, especially for something like contingency-based practice, like personal injury, 70% of the time these people hire the first attorney that they speak to.

son to call them about their [:

So, there's a few different reasons, but yeah, the connection rate and how we can use automation technology to just fast track that process, close the gap, and make sure we're not missing because sure we've all experienced something where there is a human error, we love the person, but it was an expensive mistake and we never forgot it in our business.

So, I mean, I don't know if you can relate, but that's something I've heard talking to so many business owners is like the one that got away that was, you know, great case, just walked in the door. And it could be an issue with like the chat, the website, the person on the phone that they spoke to.

But they chose, they wound up going somewhere else and I know the pain. When you spend so much time, energy, and resources to get people like that to reach out to you, and if it goes the wrong way, it can be very upsetting.

s: Yeah, perfect answer Joe. [:

MPS: Yeah. Hey Joe.

Exciting Developments at Intaker


MPS: What's got you guys excited and fired up today? Could be personal, could be business, which got you excited.

is on the product because the:

ng AI to basically make some [:

Who's good lead, who's not a good lead, what bucket do they fall into, which needs more review, which is already like pretty amazing. But what we're excited for next is connecting that to the rest of the automation engine that we've built at Intaker. And so, for example, things like when certain qualified leads come in the door.

Immediately calling the attorney responsible for intake or calling the intake desk when it's someone that you know it's a case that you're interested in, you know, and I'm talking about as soon as someone enters the information on the website and gets qualified. One second later, the attorney is getting a call.

Then they're bridged on a call with the potential client on the other side. That level of technology, that's just one use case. Imagine being able to send like a retainer agreement if you're someone who wants to be able to send automatic retainer agreements through using automation, when people just get qualified.

like, none of this would be [:

Cause I've talked to law firm owners that for years have asked us, oh you know, you do AI, you do automation, can you do this? Can you do that? And it's like, well, we're working on it, but now we're actually so much further along. And I'm excited because we're doing a product lab day and I don't know when this is coming up, but it's gonna be in late February.

We're gonna do a product lab day all about, Intaker education for people to learn the ins and outs on a much deeper level. And so, you know, for your community, Rich and anyone listening, it'd be a great opportunity to learn a little bit more about what's under the hood and where we're going on the tech side.

So it's gonna be fun.

great conversation. Joe, how [:

Joe Ruotolo: I would just recommend, fewer Law Firm Owner you're looking to see, you know, what can automation, AI, and website chat kind of do for your business? Just go to our website at Intaker.com. You'll get a chance to learn more there and if you want to reach out to us, the only way to do it is through chat.

So you can actually get a chance to get a little live demo, see what the tool is, like, play around with it, and then, yeah, you know, we're always happy to talk with business owners, law firm owners who wanna learn how to take their firm to the next level with automation technology, and streamline their intake.

So it has been just a pleasure and a joy.

Conclusion and Contact Information


Joe Ruotolo: Mike and Rich, you know, I have both of you to thank for many lessons that I've learned being in this industry, learning from the community, watching it Grow Partners Club, even from, you know, after Covid. It was what, I guess it was in '20, '21 that we first connected.

d how you know, watching MPS [:

MPS: Love it. Joe, well, we're extremely appreciative of you and your time, and thank you for being part of the community. We appreciate that, our clients appreciate that, and so we're thankful and for the law firm owners listening to this, a lot of valuable information today. A lot of important tidbits on community and connection rate and speed to lead.

And so we appreciate you listening. If you're not new here or if you are new here, it's not your first time listening, excuse me, we got the gentleman's agreement. So we just ask that you make sure you hit that subscribe button or follow button depending on where you're listening or watching.

oe, thank you again for your [:

Joe Ruotolo: Thank you gentlemen.

Richard James: That's the pod.

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About the Podcast

Your Practice Mastered
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