Instant real-time call scheduling with UpCounsel
Language & Framework: Ruby on Rails
Product: Availability API
In a nutshell
UpCounsel is an innovative virtual marketplace connecting business leaders and in-house counsel with qualified outside lawyers and attorneys.
In a fast-moving company such as a startup, there’s no predicting what kind of legal issues could arise. From reviewing business agreements to filing a patent or getting advice on visas, sometimes businesses need to call on qualified external legal counsel.
Traditionally, it can take days – or even weeks – just to get an initial appointment with a lawyer. UpCounsel was created to solve this problem and allow lawyers and attorneys to be reached quickly and easily.
One of UpCounsel’s main value propositions is connecting customers with highly qualified attorneys quickly and effortlessly. With Cronofy, our users can schedule calls with lawyers within minutes. Our lawyers also love it because they spend less time coordinating calls and instead can focus on helping their clients.
Jaya Pareek, Product Manager | UpCounsel
UpCounsel is a straightforward online platform, and works like other online marketplaces in different industries. Lawyers create their profiles on the platform, specifying their areas of expertise, qualifications, and location.
Businesses and professionals with a legal challenge can then post a job on UpCounsel and interested lawyers can send them proposals. The user can then choose their preferred proposal. The decision can be based on a variety of factors such as cost, user reviews, and expertise in a specific legal area.
For example, a Brooklyn-based startup busy finalizing a product could be looking for lawyers in New York who specialize in patents.
The benefits for lawyers are multiple: they receive more job requests, grow their clientele, and increase their visibility.
UpCounsel makes obtaining legal advice faster. However, posting a job and sifting through proposals can still take time and is reliant on the availability of the legal professionals answering the job postings.
Sometimes a company needs a legal answer quickly or they risk losing business. Receiving a bid is great but they also need to talk to the lawyer as soon as possible. That’s not always straight forward, it depends on the availability of the lawyers and it can take several emails to find a time that works everyone.
That’s still a lot simpler and more cost-effective than having to book a meeting with a law firm, but what if this process could be even more streamlined?
The UpCounsel team felt that was possible and set out to find a way to allow users to schedule calls with lawyers and attorneys based on their real-time availability right after they received a bid.
The UpCounsel team wanted to enable users to schedule calls with lawyers who bid on their job postings. They quickly identified that to achieve this they needed to allow lawyers to sync their calendars with their UpCounsel profile. That’s when they contacted Cronofy.
With the Cronofy Calendar API online calendars can be synced to software and enterprise applications no matter what calendar service they use.
The UpCounsel development team tested the API and started building a new feature that would allow users to book calls with available lawyers in a matter of minutes, not hours or days. This brand-new feature, ‘Instant Call Scheduling’, has been a success since its launch. Clients can now click a scheduling button on the lawyer’s profile page, pick the time slot they want, and schedule a call.
It has dramatically boosted the visibility of lawyers who choose to display their availability, as well as their chances of putting the winning proposal on a job posting.
However, lawyers host plenty of confidential and sensitive information on their calendars from the names of other clients to specific cases details. That’s why it was paramount to UpCounsel that their users’ data was protected.
They decide to use Cronofy’s free/busy feature to only access availability information – no sensitive data needs to be hosted or protected because it is not accessible via the calendar integration.
The ‘Instant Call Scheduling’ feature has changed the way that both lawyers and clients used the website. They no longer need to spend time messaging each other to organize a phone call – everything can be scheduled instantly.
Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
When a lawyer joins UpCounsel and creates their profile, they’re offered the option to sync their calendar to UpCounsel using Cronofy.
Because Cronofy works with all the major calendar services, they simply have to pick which one they use.
Once they’ve authorized Cronofy to connect to their calendar, they must choose which of their calendars they wish to connect to UpCounsel.
Currently, each user can connect a single calendar but UpCounsel is planning on allowing multiple calendars to be connected in the future. Lawyers will then have the possibility to connect both their personal and professional calendars, even if they use different calendar services. That will be handy if they want to ensure that professional commitments don’t clash with their personal lives.
All the event information that Cronofy returns is kept private: UpCounsel only accesses attorneys’ free/busy information to ensure that only available time slots are proposed to users looking to schedule a call.
After syncing their calendars, lawyers are offered the additional option to block out times when they don’t want to appear available for calls, even if their calendar is free.
This is really useful. Most legal professionals only want to dedicate a couple of days each week to take calls. The rest of their time will be spent on other tasks, such as client meetings, working their cases or going to court for example.
As their schedules and priorities change with unexpected events, attorneys can edit their availability to reflect when they are actually free.
As soon as a client schedules a phone call with them, it’s automatically added the attorney’s calendar, and that times slot is blocked, preventing any double-bookings.
Should any changes be made, their calendar will be instantly updated. If the client cancels the phone call, it’s automatically deleted from the lawyers’ schedule.
It’s just as simple from the potential client’s side, too.
When a client receives a proposal from a calendar connected lawyer, they are offered the option to ‘Schedule Instant Free Phone Consult’.
Clicking this option displays the attorney’s free/busy information for the next week.
Calls must be scheduled at least four hours in advance, giving attorneys plenty of time to see the event in their calendar and prepare for the conversation.
When the client selects a time slot then clicks ‘Schedule the Call’, it’s automatically added to the attorney’s calendar.
Leveraging the Cronofy API, UpCounsel created an easy-to-use feature that enables lawyers to grow their business and allow users and businesses to obtain legal advice faster. This feature has become a key to UpCounsel’s rapid growth and is a reason why it is the fastest-growing legal marketplace.
Integrating with Cronofy was really straightforward. Their documentation and support are first-class. We were able to quickly and easily integrate calendar availability into our call scheduling feature without having to worry about setting up several disparate calendar service integrations.
Chris Yancey, Full Stack Engineer | UpCounsel
If your business model relies on putting people in touch seamlessly, calendar sync can help you grow.
If you want to see Cronofy in action, don’t hesitate to book your demo.
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