With client meetings, court appearances, and travel, lawyers can’t always return every call. With the growth of always-on technology and remote work, virtual answering services have grown in popularity.

A virtual answering service offers advantages like round-the-clock accessibility, positive first impressions, no missed calls, and fast answers for your potential client’s phone calls. These live answering services are typically more cost-effective than having an internal employee, while still allowing your callers to speak to a real person. 

Not answering new client phone calls leaves clients with the impression that their call isn’t important to your firm and often leads them to call another lawyer.

This is such a problem that the American Bar Association estimates 42% of leads have to wait 3 or more days to get a response to their voicemail from law firms. That statistic implies that you have the opportunity to get an edge over competitor firms just by answering the phone, and getting them into your CRM software.

Selecting the best provider for your law practice can be difficult because there are so many options. To keep you from being overwhelmed, or making a bad decision, Here is a list of some of the most well-regarded legal answering services, along with a quick summary of each one’s top features.

Smith.ai 

Smith.ai goes beyond answering phone calls from potential clients and taking their messages. Their live receptionists also monitor incoming text, Facebook, and website chat messages. These virtual receptionists can screen your calls, set up new appointments, place outbound follow-up calls, and collect payment for services rendered. 

Pricing for Smith.ai is on a per-call basis rather than per-minute, and the service does not charge for spam or wrong-number calls. The service also has integrations with common tools like Zapier, HubSpot, SalesForce, and more, so you can quickly move lead data from one tool to another.

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • 24/7 Website chat
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Payment collection
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording

Pricing: 

  • Smith.ai charges per client call, which is more budget-friendly than other virtual reception services that charge per minute
  • Standard plans range from $210 per month to $750 per month (30 calls and 150 calls, respectively). For call volumes over 150 calls per month, custom plans are available
  • Fourteen-day money-back guarantee, no cancellation fees

Lex Reception

LEX Reception is a 24-hour phone answering service built specifically for lawyers and firms. LEX Receptionists are experts in legal intake, making them a perfect tool for practices trying to secure every incoming lead. 

Every LEX package includes all the technology your firm needs. You can monitor your minutes used and billing, see and change custom scripts, play call recordings, and watch real-time analytics from a web access dashboard.

For updates while on the go, there is also the LEX mobile app. You can quickly check your messages, update your availability, and make calls from your business line while you’re away from the office.

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • 24/7 Website chat
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording
  • Mobile app

Pricing:

  • Plans are per minute and start at $325/month for 150 minutes and go up from there
  • Extra minutes cost between $1.75 and $1.95 a minute, depending on the plan
  • There is a $75 setup fee on the lowest plan

AnswerConnect

AnswerConnect is very similar to Lex Reception, with the notable difference being that AnswerConnect is not purpose-built for law firms. That said, they do provide trained legal receptionists.

Don’t let the fact that they are built for all types of businesses scare you away before considering them. They are very highly reviewed, scoring particularly well for customer service, both for buyers and their clients.

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • 24/7 Website chat
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Payment collection
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording

Pricing:

  • AnswerConnect offers monthly plans based on how many minutes you think you’ll use
  • Plans can be added to or reduced based on usage
  • A product demo is required to get your exact pricing

Abby Connect

Abby Connect is another very well-reviewed virtual reception service. Noted for their professionalism when answering calls and detailed call notes, they are considered a trustworthy partner. The team is very enthusiastic, collaborative, flexible, and communicative, and they continuously keep you in the loop.

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • 24/7 Website chat is extra
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording
  • Mobile App

Pricing:

  • Plans are per minute and start at $299/month for 100 minutes and go up from there
  • No contracts, cancel anytime

Ruby

Ruby provides outstanding customer service over the phone and online via website chat to small businesses. They focus on customer service combined with a cutting-edge IT firm. Their live receptionists use specialized tools to customize a caller’s or website visitor’s experience, respond to frequently asked questions, transfer calls, take messages, and gather data that makes it simple for the law firms they represent to follow up.

Some reviews mention more of a learning curve with Ruby than other services on this list, but it is almost a universally well-liked and trusted virtual receptionist option.  

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • 24/7 Website chat for an additional fee
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording
  • Mobile app

Pricing:

  • Plans are per minute and start at $219/month for 50 minutes, $349 for 100 minutes, and go up from there
  • No contracts, cancel anytime

Alert Communications 

Another legal industry-only entrant to the list, Alert Communications has been around since the 1960s. They have evolved their technology over that time, and they have worked with thousands of law firms, so they have plenty of experience. 

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording

Pricing:

  • Plans start at $150 per month plus setup fees
  • No contracts, cancel anytime

AnsweringLegal

Another virtual receptionist exclusive to law firms is Answering Legal. This allows them to employ highly trained legal personnel available to answer your calls. 

Answering Legal is a bit of a combination of other services on this list in that they can function as a high-volume call center like Alert, but their focus is on diligently handling and returning your calls, similar to Ruby. 

Features:

  • Incoming calls answered 24 hours a day
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording

Pricing:

  • Free trial. Plans for firms of all sizes
  • No long-term commitments
  • No upcharge for premium features
  • Demo required for pricing

Back Office Betties

Another popular legal-only virtual receptionist service, Back Office Betties gets high marks for their expertise and friendly service. They offer some premium features, but they are also missing a few key features found in other popular virtual receptionists.

The premium features they offer include scheduling appointments/managing your calendar, processing payments, creating work orders, and even making outbound calls to follow up with clients.

That said, they are not available 24/7, only during standard business hours, and they do not have a mobile app.  

Features:

  • Payment processing
  • CRM Integration
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Bilingual receptionists (English & Spanish)
  • Overflow call answering
  • Call recording
  • Website chat is extra

Pricing:

  • Plans are per minute and start at $349/month for 100 minutes, $349 for 100 minutes, and go up from there

Selecting the Best Virtual Answering Service For Your Law Firm

It’s key to do your research and determine which virtual answering service best matches your needs and budget. 

A great place to start is our article on the legal intake process. Without a system to track and answer calls when you are not available, you have no idea how many cases you are leaving on the table due to missed calls.