To run a successful law firm– whether it’s a solo practice or a large firm– you’ll need to not only excel in the areas of law you’re practicing in, but also in all matters of running the practice itself. Running a legal practice comes with its own, unique set of challenges that even the most prepared lawyer setting out to start a new practice may find themselves overwhelmed with. I’m here to help make the job of running your law office just a little easier. Welcome back to Mike’s Office Management Tips.
— Mike Campbell
For law firms, the intake process is often the first point of contact between clients and attorneys. It’s where you make your first impression and start building trust. If your client intake process is faulty, you could be hindering your practice’s success and potentially damaging your career. To avoid that, let’s take a look at how to tackle client intake issues before you lose cases.
Stages of the Intake Process
When a potential client faces a legal matter and chooses to seek legal representation from your law firm, it’s essential to make the intake process as easy as possible. They’re likely already overwhelmed with just the thought of having to pursue litigation, so running into problems early can lose you cases.
If you haven’t already, it’s crucial to build a well-structured intake process. You won’t lose track of potential clients, and they’ll have a solid idea of what is expected of them and you. To ensure you are accurately keeping tabs on potential clients, consider using a case management system to define different stages of the intake process. You might want to consider the following classifications:
- Not yet contacted
- Needs to follow up
- Intake form pending
- Retainer pending
- Awaiting payment
Once you have a clearer picture of your potential clients’ needs, you’ll know what’s next at the top of your to-do list.
Streamline the Client Intake Process with Technology
Even if you have an organized list of potential clients, you won’t retain them if you don’t make the intake process as easy as possible. To do that, you’ll want to consider implementing the latest in legal technology to reduce errors and stress.
Use Online Forms
A lot of data is collected during client intake. If you’re not currently using online forms, you and your staff are likely wasting a significant amount of time on manual data entry. Not only is data entry repetitive and time-consuming, but it’s also prone to errors. You can eliminate this problem by using online intake forms. The forms can be linked directly to a database via API integration. This way, clients can fill out their information online, and you can move the data into your case management system.
Offer E-Signature Options
Along with online forms, you’ll want to consider offering an e-signature option. With the traditional method, a potential client opens an email, downloads a PDF, prints it out, signs it, scans it, and emails it back. With that many steps, it’s possible something could go wrong. With new clients, you want to keep any barrier to a minimum. When you use a program that allows you to automate a document, insert it into an email, and send it out for an electronic signature, your client can digitally sign the form and get it back to you as soon as possible.
Track Potential Clients Efficiently
One of the keys to growing your law practice is finding the right marketing channels. It would be best if you decided where you can consistently advertise to acquire customers. You also need to consider the cost of this process and where you can do this for less money than each customer pays you. This may take some trial and error, so it’s critical you track the source of every potential client you encounter. It would help if you also got in the habit of asking new clients where they learned about your firm. When you can analyze all of that data, you’ll have a better idea of which marketing efforts yield the best results.
Send Appointment Reminders
As a lawyer, you have a tight schedule. Schedules must stay as accurate as possible, as missed appointments can cause frustration and take up valuable time. You’re more likely to have a prospective client with who you don’t have a strong relationship with miss an appointment, which is why it’s so important to send appointment reminders. A reminder via text, email, or phone call will improve the person’s chances of showing up. If you’re looking to make the process even easier, you can implement an appointment scheduling software and use it to generate those reminders automatically.
If you have strong systems in place to maximize your law firm’s client intake process, you’ll be able to increase your caseload steadily. You won’t have to worry about losing potential clients, wasting time, and negatively affecting your conversation rate. The time you spend investing in improve your client intake process will ultimately contribute to your success as an attorney.