Gatekeepers are on the front line – give them the right tools for the job

June 8, 2020 by Sam Paul

As we have explored in previous blogs, Engage delivers significant benefits to both family lawyers and prospective clients – but there are additional family team stakeholders who stand to gain from adopting a tool like Engage.  ‘Gatekeepers’ have a vital role to play in the new client journey, and yet the role of ‘handling’ prospects from the point of their initial enquiry is rarely as seamless as it might be. An inefficient gatekeeping process will leave the person responsible a frazzled, frustrated mess and – dangerously – leave the prospect doubting whether they have found the right lawyer for them.

In this blog I am going to explore how Engage supports the work of gatekeepers, and how in turn gatekeepers are an integral part of ensuring a firm uses Engage to its utmost potential.

Who is a Gatekeeper?

Firstly, who is a ‘Gatekeeper’? Rarely a formal job title or position in a law firm, it is more useful to identify a ‘Gatekeeper’ based on their role and function. They are the first point of contact for potential clients and in some law firms they assign new cases to fee earners based on factors such as the matter type, existing individual case-loads and other internal criteria. Gatekeepers can be solicitors or support staff, depending on the office work processes and work culture.  Sometimes, the gatekeeper role is performed by one or two specified individuals in a family team.  More commonly, the gatekeeper function is shared between the lawyers (including trainees, paralegals and experienced support staff) according to who is available or per a rota.

At Family Law Lab, and having observed various firms embedding Engage in their workflows, we know it is essential to include gatekeepers (whether formal roles or as a shared function) right from the outset of the process to help embed Engage. This is why we recommend that they be included in the demos and all the set-up communications. This not only helps us to better understand your needs and the nuances of your existing processes but also allows us to clarify any questions you might have so that Engage fits snuggly in your existing workflow and the transition to using it is as smooth as possible.

A ‘Gatekeeper’ role or function

Gatekeepers have an important role to play in embedding Engage in their firm. This is because they are the initial point of contact for potential clients, and it is essential that they understand the benefits of Engage and so can recommend its usage. To ensure gatekeepers have a solid understanding of the application, we have designed a number of  supporting resources to help them frame conversations with potential clients.

Further, it is important that gatekeepers know the kinds of matters that are covered by Engage. Engage covers nearly 95% of all possible matter types arising in Marriages, Civil Partnerships, Cohabitations and Co-Parenting relationships. We provide a digital version of the below table.  As one particular law firm told us, they have laminated the document and use it as a quick reference when recommending Engage to clients.

Benefits for gatekeepers

As we have seen, the gatekeeping role, whether embodied in a particular person or shared across the team, is crucial for handling initial enquiries.  Engage allows for a secondary, valuable gatekeeping function to be exercised when the new enquirer makes an Engage submission.

One of the outputs of an Engage submission is the generation of a ‘heads-up’ display which will contain, among other things, the names of the parties, their other names, third parties potentially connected to the matter, as well as other information that might help to effortlessly assign the case to specialists based on their capacity and expertise. Crucially, this information enables the gatekeeper to do a quick and thorough conflict check, far more effectively than over the phone or with piecemeal information from an email. This is great news from a risk-mitigation point of view.

We have additional ‘heads-up’ displays containing key information that gatekeepers ‘need to know’ which means the enquiry can be passed quickly and seamlessly to an appropriate member of the fee earning team, which in turn means a better chance at converting them.

In short, we’d be missing a trick if we only told you about Engage as a tool for lawyers made by lawyers. Instead, as our existing user base of family teams tell us, it is a tool that delivers benefits for the entire team, made by lawyers who understand the complexity and nuances of running a successful law firm.

Contact us to find out how Engage can support your team.

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