Benefits of a Client Intake Process
The client intake process is not only a critical step towards creating a successful attorney-client relationship, but it is also extremely useful for spotting any potential red flags or quickly fleshing out matters you would prefer not to handle.
Having a standardized client intake process eliminates friction when you’re onboarding new clients and saves massive amounts of upfront time in your process so you can get clients into and through your sales funnel much quicker, ultimately increasing your cash flow.
A well-designed intake process makes a strong first impression for your brand and is the first step in creating a positive client experience, establishing trust early in the process.
Creating an Effective Legal Services Intake Process
Ideally, a productive intake process includes four essential elements: ease, efficiency, thoroughness, and accuracy. An effective intake process can then be handled quickly, with no confusion, and consistently captures ALL of the information you need with few or no errors.
A complete client intake process includes:
Collecting all of the necessary information you need from a new client
Quickly scheduling consultations and any necessary follow-up meetings
Sending letters of engagement to document the specific services to be provided and the fees to be paid
Using a Client Intake Form
One of the easiest ways to standardize and automate your intake process is to start with a client intake form. Since you’ll only have to prepare these intake questions once, you’ll save tons of time when it comes to onboarding new clients and ultimately will increase your firm’s productivity going forward.
Using a client intake form also ensures that you don’t miss any critical information. Missing something important could impede your ability to properly evaluate the attorney-client fit and reduce your prospective client’s confidence in you and your firm.
Finally, asking guided questions helps clients think about their goals and whether they’re truly ready for your help. You ‘ll be able to weed out people who may be wasting your time and you’ll do it sooner rather than later.
Creating an Intake Form That Gets Results
The goal of the client intake form is to be efficient and effective in capturing the basic details you need before you start working on a matter. Your intake form should ask for a mix of personal and matter-specific information.
How much information you need on a client intake form is a bit of delicate balance. You want to get as much information as possible to best assess and manage your client’s expectations but also don’t want to overwhelm your client at the same time. Additionally, you’ll need adequate information with which you can conduct a proper conflict of interest search if it’s needed.
It’s a good idea to develop customized intake forms for the various types of clients and types of matters you’ll be handling. The information you need from a corporate client is not likely to be the same information you need from an individual. Likewise, a bankruptcy matter will require different information than a probate matter.
A client intake form is really a simple tool that performs some very important jobs, all of which have a substantially positive impact on your bottom line. A good intake form:
Provides the foundation for an efficient intake process
Improves client satisfaction so you can expect more referrals and repeat business
Increases productivity and reduces operational friction
Shortens your sales cycle resulting in a positive effect on your cash flow
Done well, a great client intake form not only enhances the client experience, but elevates the experience of practicing law as well.