A law firm’s client intake process is as much about collecting information about a case to determine whether to accept them as a client, as it is for your client to determine if your law firm is right for them. Having an organized intake process for your client can set the tone of the ongoing attorney-client relationship, as it shows your professionalism and commitment to their matter.
As simple as it may sound to get to know your clients, there are several stages of the intake process, such as:
- Attracting clients
- Capturing contact information
- Conflict verification
- Scheduling a consultation
- Collecting information
- Signing a fee agreement
Whether you are collecting information via a phone call, email, or in person, it may still take a long time to process and lawyers simply don’t have the bandwidth. Here are five steps for how you can conduct client intake efficiently, so you can get started on cases sooner while reducing manual tasks.
The Importance of a Faster Client Intake Process
Prospective clients often use Google or other search engines to find legal services that fit their needs, and are usually expecting answers quickly. When there’s a simple and quick client intake process that gets them right into the virtual door of your firm, clients will most likely want to pick your firm out of convenience. A faster client intake process makes it easier to convert a prospect into a client.
Step 1: Bring in more qualified potential clients
Like any other business, law firms need to generate qualified leads through strategic and targeted marketing campaigns. To start, leverage the full potential of your existing website by optimizing it. Use website traffic analytics to find out why clients drop off from the website to identify improvement areas. Another way to bring in more qualified potential clients is to identify the target audience for your law firm. For example, immigration law firms and personal injury law don’t target the same audiences. Each practice area has different needs and requirements, therefore, targeting the right audience when developing a law firm marketing strategy will eventually attract more qualified clients.
Step 2: Customize your intake forms depending on the area of law
It is common that law firms to serve several practice areas with multiple in-house lawyers, and due to this, intake forms can vary drastically depending on the case. For example, if your law firms have lawyers who handle divorce cases and personal injury cases, the versions of intake forms will look quite different with practice-specific questions.
By having unique and customized intake forms, you can avoid wasting time in the consultation meeting and allow your intake forms to be a valuable tool to pre-screen your clients.
Law firms can take advantage of PracticePanther, the all-in-one legal practice management platform, to create unlimited customized intake forms. When a client fills out a form, their information is automatically created as a new Contact, or if they already exist in the system, their information will be updated with the new information they submitted.
Step 3: Place intake forms on your website
If you place an intake form where your client can easily access it, like on your law firm’s website or your email signature, then you can accelerate the client intake process without back-and-forth communication.
If your firm practices several areas of law, place your practice area-specific intake forms on pages dedicated to that area type to make it easier for clients to understand which form applies to their case. PracticePanther allows you to place your customized intake forms anywhere you find fit such as email signatures, websites, and more.
Step 4: Stay on top of communication & integrate your calendar
After reviewing your client’s intake form, respond to them within 24-48 hours. According to the American Bar Association, 42% of law firms take more than 3 days to respond to their clients. During this timeframe, your potential client may on to search for another law firm.
The faster you respond, the quicker you can land them as a client. PracticePanther gives you the option to integrate your calendar in your response email, so your client can set a consultation with you instantly by just looking at available times. Don’t let a prospect slip through the cracks because you missed this step.
Step 5: Be Transparent with costs and accept ePayments
Don’t forget to track your billable hours and set expectations during the first consultation meeting. The easiest way to ensure you’re getting paid for your time is to accept ePayments at your law firm.
Immediately send an invoice after the first consultation and provide multiple payment options for your client — credit card, eCheck, or ACH. This way, it shows your client how you’re already on top of their case and are ready to work, while they can enjoy a seamless payment experience without the hassle of mailing you a paper check.
PantherPayments gives you the option to share a custom payment link, OneLink, to quickly and compliantly get paid online by anyone with access to your unique link. Embed it on your website, email signatures, or directly on your intake form for the best payment experience. You can customize OneLinks with a preset payment amount, or a blank invoice amount for your client to input the amount they owe. There’s no limit to the number of OneLink templates you create and share!
Your staff can also create invoice templates with customized information, such as setting hourly rates, flat fees, or work on contingency. Lawyers can simply set the rules in PracticePanther, then it will automatically generate an invoice based on the entered information. In addition, law firms can also white label invoices to ensure it looks professional and fit into the law firm’s branding.
How can PracticePanther help with client intake?
With all the right resources available in PracticePanther, and the strategies you can implement with our built-in features, your law firm can save time and money on administrative tasks and improve your client intake process. If you’re interested in learning more about how PracticePanther can help streamline your practice, schedule a customized demo with our team to see how your law firm can benefit from the legal practice management software.
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