Just as the medical answering service has caught on for physicians, so, too, has the legal answering service for attorneys. These services can handle after-hours calls, take and forward messages, and more. But as with outsourcing any work, attorneys must screen answering services carefully before signing a contract to ensure high-quality service—a must when dealing with legal-related calls that are often sensitive in nature. Getting a referral is one way to find a good service, but word of mouth must be augmented by the attorney’s own research. Ask about the services available and whether the provider has any experience with legal calls.

Discuss how call performance will be monitored and measured. And, of course, clarify with any phone answering service the details of the service contract. Be clear about expectations and remain involved with the service. Having someone else field calls can be extremely useful to an attorney, but only if it is done so in a professional, knowledgeable, and courteous manner.