All clients deserve quality client-centered representation and attorney Stephen P. Shepard has built an entire criminal defense career around that principal. After serving as a public defender, Stephen opened The Law Office of Stephen P. Shepard, LLC in 2013 to offer affordable and quality legal services to anyone facing criminal charges. Everything he does focuses on providing client-centered legal services that are aligned with the core values of his law firm.
"What I sought to do when I started my ﬁrm was to basically privatize what the public defender does,” Stephen said. “So the mission of my ﬁrm is to provide superior representation based on four core values: client centered representation, aﬀordable representation, resourceful advocacy, and comprehensive service.” Stephen accomplishes those goals by using powerful
tools designed for lawyers and by assessing client ﬁnances and the costs of the case so that he can provide a price that is both aﬀordable and fair to him as an attorney.
“The prospective client tells me about their ﬁnancial situation—their debts, assets, necessary expenses,” Stephen said. “Then I subtract the necessary expenses from their income to ﬁnd out where they are ﬁnancially. I also think about how much work is involved in this case. Once I come up with an aﬀordable price, I give them a number that’s not set in stone but that I think is fair to both of us.”
When Stephen ﬁrst launched his law ﬁrm and his ﬁrm’s client-centered and aﬀordable business model, there were many naysayers who told him it simply couldn’t work. But he didn’t let that stop him.
“So many people told me, ‘Oh that’s not going to work, you’re not going to make any money’ but I decided to do it anyway,” Stephen said. “I know that if people can get an attorney to represent them at an aﬀordable cost and the attorney can aﬀord to run a practice at that cost, it’s a winwin for everyone.”
Stephen’s reputation for excellence and compassionate service means that his schedule is busy. When he’s in the courtroom or in a meeting, he needs a real human being to qualify leads and ask the type of questions that will help him understand the issues facing the potential client.
“Answer 1 helps me tremendously because they get me the information I need and they get it to me immediately,” Stephen said. “They know how to take calls from jail so they help me out a great deal when someone is calling and they need help right away.”
This is especially important to Stephen as a criminal defense attorney because getting the right information to him quickly is critical when a potential client is sitting
in jail and the clock is ticking. Since Answer 1 provides their virtual receptionists a four-week training that’s speciﬁc to law ﬁrms, the people answering the phone are
equipped to ask the right questions and handle clients in a way that is appropriate and professional.
“I was with a diﬀerent virtual reception service before and they were inexpensive but I learned that you get what you pay for,” Stephen said. “I had multiple complaints
about them. They would often get me the wrong information. It got to a point where I was seriously concerned about how my calls were being handled.”
As a criminal defense attorney, Stephen knows that anyone facing a criminal charge needs help in a timely manner. The last thing they want to do is talk to a voicemail machine. Because a machine can’t ask questions or answer them, many potential clients will simply hang up.
“From all the research I’ve read, when a real human voice answers the phone you’re more likely to get a positive response,” Stephen said. “If it’s a potential client, you’re
more likely to get their information. If it’s a client with an emergency, you’re more likely to get their information too. But with voicemail, people hang up on it. It’s just not as eﬀective as getting information for the attorney as a virtual receptionist.”
Making sure that clients and potential clients can contact a real person is paramount to Stephen’s core value of customer-centered representation. He makes sure that each client has the number that will redirect to Answer1 when he’s unavailable and his shares his mobile phone just in case a client has an emergency.
“Since I have a team of 24/7 law ﬁrm receptionists, that means that the person who gets a DUI at three in the morning is going to get a real human being on the phone,”
Stephen said. “For me, using a law ﬁrm virtual receptionist is a no-brainer. Any law ﬁrm that is not doing it is kind of living in the past. I think it’s what clients expect today. If you’re not doing it, you need to rethink that decision.”
Using a law ﬁrm virtual receptionist has not only made it easier for potential clients and existing clients to get the right information to Stephen so that he can help them, but it has also increased the number of people eager to do business with him.
“I’ve gotten more clients,” Stephen said. “I would also say that more people are looking to hire me when I tell them that if I’m not in the oﬃce I have a 24/7 team of receptionists who can help them.”
And while Stephen said that the cost of using Answer 1 is more than the previous service he had, he ﬁnds that the value delivered is far superior to any service he’s worked with in the past.
“When I look at cost per minute, I’ve compared that to so-called industry leaders and I’ve found that Answer1 is competitive in terms of the value you get,” Stephen said.
By using Answer 1, attorney Stephen Shepard has been able to provide quality, client-centered service that is in line with his core values. He also has increased the number of clients he gets and the services has ensured that he can get the information he needs when new clients call to inquire about his legal services.