Do's & Don'ts of Legal Client Intake

Published on April 22, 2021
8 minute read
<a href=''>Erica Berghan</a>
Written by Erica Berghan

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that attorneys are busy people.

Yet, believe it or not, a vast majority of their tasks are administrative, sometimes even making it a challenge for them to prioritize practicing law over monotonous office work like getting back to potential clients.

You heard that right — sometimes lawyers have so much going on that they hardly have time to be lawyers.

Sounds pretty backward, right?

Yet, for a law firm to succeed, it has to prioritize the tedious administrative tasks — like the client intake process. The client intake process is unquestionably the most important part of a law firm’s opportunity to uphold its reputation. First impressions count, so if a lawyer blows their intake process, they’ve already lost half the battle.

Far too many law firms neglect their client intake process and, as a result, have a poor conversion rate. A poorly-developed client intake process doesn’t just result in friction and disorganization; it results in lost money. And let’s face it, the goal is to make revenue, not lose it.

When you don't have a good intake strategy in place, then you're losing time that you could be spending practicing law. So, before you lose any more valuable time on a poorly constructed client intake process — it’s time to start prioritizing, streamlining, and optimizing your client intake process.

A great place to start is knowing the do's and don'ts of client intake.



Do: pre-screen your clients

Pre-screen your clients

As an attorney, your schedule is already spread thin. Why waste time trying to onboard clients who aren't a good fit for your practice? Unfortunately, not everyone who comes into your office will be the right match for you and your team, and that's just the way things are. Believe it or not, you don't have to say yes to everyone who comes into your office. In some cases, it benefits both you and the potential client to send them elsewhere for legal services.

Rather than carving out a consultation in your schedule only to realize during the appointment that you're not a good fit for each other, you should conduct a thoughtful prescreen. Prescreening is a great way to assess things like what the person is looking for services for and whether they've ever sought out legal services in the past.

Bigger firms have the luxury of a receptionist who can conduct phone pre-screening prior to consultations. However, if you're a solo practitioner, then you probably don't have a lot of time to spend on prescreening clients. One of the best ways to speed up your intake process without forgetting to collect important information is by using custom templates. Quickly get the answers you need from your clients upfront, so everyone is on the same page before your consultation.

With Lawmatics drag and drop custom form builder, you can easily grab whatever information you need, making the prescreening process that much faster and easier.

Do: capture contact information

Capture contact information

Using the same custom form builder, create a legal client intake form that requests your potential client to fill out their contact information. Customizing your field inputs ensures that you'll capture only the information that you need in a way that makes sense for your practice. Once it's filled out, the form will automatically go into your CRM for lawyers.

No more searching through your inbox or digging through spreadsheets — grab your clients' information right away with the right attorney intake software. Once the contact information is collected, you can start meticulously tracking your client's journey and never losing track of a lead again.

Do: automate email replies

Automate email replies

One of the biggest missed opportunities that lawyers make is failing to follow up after grabbing the initial contact information. With so much on your plate as an attorney, slipups are expected. That's why automation makes it easy to stay on top of getting back to clients.

From the initial lead capture, law firm client intake software automates the client experience so that your clients stay happy from the very beginning. Custom automation makes it possible to follow up with clients without you having to do a thing. From sending an automatic thank you message with a bit of information about your firm to confirming your consultation, automation keeps everyone on the same page, so nothing slips through the cracks.

Do: be friendly

Be friendly

It seems so simple when you see it in writing, yet being friendly is something that many lawyers forget. Don't forget that even though your job is to practice law, you're still a salesperson. As your grandma always said, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and if you hope to get the sale, you’ll need to be friendly.

Delighting your clients is one of the best ways to boost your conversion rates, and nothing delights like friendly customer service. It's really that simple. From sending out an automatic thank you message to smiling during your consultation, a bit of friendliness makes your clients feel valued and results in more referrals.

Do: track your data

Track your data

Data is an essential part of better understanding how well your firm is achieving its goals; otherwise, you’re just guessing — particularly when it comes to your intake process. Goal tracking for law firms is as easy as using the right legal client intake software. For example, Lawmatics can help you determine key analytics like where most of your leads are coming from, how many of them are successfully converting into clients, and which of them have turned into the most profitable for your firm.

Thanks to easy-to-read dashboards, you don't have to be a computer scientist to understand law firm data analytics. Law firm reporting software will present you with a report that is incredibly easy to use and understand so you clearly see what's working and what's not in your client intake process.

Do: offer e-signature

Offer e-signature

So often, lawyers assume that they’re the only busy ones in a client-attorney relationship. The truth is that your clients don’t love lengthy back and forths any more than lawyers do.

Why spend hours and even possibly days sending back contracts and agreements that require printers and scanners? Offer a client e-signature tool instead. An E-signature feature doesn't just allow you to create, send, and sign important documents, but it also stores them safely in one single, convenient place. Legal file request automation saves time sending the right attachments for your clients to sign quickly.

It's as easy as creating, signing, and sharing within minutes. You'll wow your leads and clients by eliminating bottlenecks and simplifying a large portion of your client intake process.



Don't: waste time on repetitive data entry

Waste time on repetitive data entry

A recent report revealed that the average lawyer spends nearly 50% of their workweek on administrative tasks. Unfortunately, that's a serious hit on lawyers' productivity. Many practices still rely on repetitive data entry to keep up with all of their client's information. Unfortunately, if you hope to grow as a law firm, you'll need to upgrade to a superior process.

There's no way you can possibly keep up with the demands of all your clients with a manual system in place. Workflow automation for law firms is the best way to get the same amount of work done in a fraction of your time, giving you more time to spend on practicing law.

Don't: use paper and pen

Use paper and pen

Let's put it this way — if your client intake process involves paper and a pen, then you're likely not converting that many leads. Not only do you risk leads falling through the cracks, but you're probably making all sorts of errors during your manual pen and paper process. Forget about post-its stuck all over your desk, and join us in the 21st century.!

A huge part of your firm's reputation rides on the client journey. If you hope to deliver a positive client journey and delight every step of the way, you have software to ensure no one gets lost in the mix.

Automation makes it so that you never have to worry about a task being taken care of or whether a lead's details have correctly collected.

Using software instead of a pen and paper means no more digging through stacks of documents. No more worrying about who's been followed up with or what the last thing you discussed with them was. Intake software makes it easy to track your client every step of the way and easily store important information in one central location so that anyone in your law firm can see where the client stands.

Don't: take too long to respond

Take too long to respond

One of the biggest complaints that people have about lawyers is their lack of communication skills. Recent studies have shown that as little as 64% of lawyers get back to their leads clients and phone calls. While this may seem like a shocking figure to some, it's no big surprise for firms that are still relying on pen and paper or their email inbox to run their law firm. Software is the only way to ensure that leads are followed up with right away. Email automation for law firms makes it possible to give your clients the attention they need every step of the way without you having to lift a finger. Whether it's to confirm an appointment or thank someone for signing up for your newsletter, following up has never been easier than it is with automated email workflows for law firms.

Don't: spend time on long email back and forths

Spend time on long email back and forths

Is all too common of a scenario: A lead requests a consultation from a lawyer, the lawyer gets back to them with a list of possible appointment time, and unfortunately, none of those times work — resulting in a lengthy back and forth. Instead of wasting your time with unnecessary back and forths, it's time to start incorporating automation into your process.

With the help of client intake software, your leads can self-schedule without you having to do a thing. It's as simple as syncing your calendar with only the dates and times you want your clients to see. Show them only the available appointments that you'd like them to be able to choose from. After choosing from your available time slots, everyone will be notified with a consultation confirmation by email.

Not only does automated appointment scheduling save time by allowing your clients to self-schedule and keep you on track with your appointments, but clients will significantly appreciate the direct access to your schedule.

Don't: skip talking about fees upfront

Skip talking about fees upfront

Failing to talk about your fees beforehand can lead to misunderstandings later down the road. It's best to get the conversation of money out of the way as early on as possible so that it's clear what you're both asking of each other. During your consultation, take time to discuss how your billing works and what kind of methods you accept. If you offer payment plans through a legal billing software, make sure that you explain how they work. Ensure that everything billing-related is gone over and put in writing, so there's no question about it later on. Failing to get this critical information on the table can lead to frustrations for everyone.

Don't: assume all leads are the same

Assume all leads are the same

Lumping everyone together into an all-in-one marketing approach is a huge blunder. Don't make the mistake of assuming that all of your leads are the same. The only way to grow your law firm is to get to know your prospects in and out, and strong connections are the key to generating new and repeat clients. With audience segmentation software, you can deliver targeted and personalized marketing campaigns that will make meaningful impressions. Thanks to client list segmentation, targeting distinct groups of your clients makes it easy to deliver personalized content through drip campaigns for law firms.

Create tailored ads, and engage with leads individually by marketing your law practice through audience segmentation software.

Optimize your client intake process with Lawmatics

At the end of the day, time equals money. The more time you spend on unnecessary tasks like monotonous data entry, redundant back and forths, and inefficient processes, the more revenue is lost. However, by automating whenever you can, you'll lighten your workload and improve your clients' experience throughout the intake process.

First impressions are critical, so your intake process should be optimized every step of the way — and Lawmatics can help you do that.

Are you ready to see how to optimize the legal client intake process with Lawmatics? Sign up for a free product demo today!

Erica Berghan

Erica is a writer by day and mom by afternoon, evening, way too early in the morning, and middle of the night. When not writing or “momming,” you can find her enjoying the outdoors, shamelessly watching reality television, or publishing Instagram stories of her cat and dog.
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