Optimizing Client Intake: 9 Essential Steps for Law Firms

Building strong relationships with clients is paramount for lawyers. It’s crucial, then, to build a solid foundation from the outset. The client intake process serves as the initial touchpoint, where demonstrating active listening, engagement, and simplicity is vital.  

Implementing effective strategies ensures a streamlined experience for clients, staff efficiency, organized information management, and a personalized touch that conveys genuine care.   

Follow these best practices to enhance your client intake process: 

  1. Standardize your client intake policies and processes

It is essential to establish clear guidelines for your staff on how to handle calls or emails from prospective clients. Define procedures for scheduling consultations, accessing client intake forms, and managing in-person visits. While many of these processes may seem intuitive, providing explicit expectations for lawyers and staff helps ensure consistency and efficiency. 

Checklists in Clio Grow create a standardized intake process so it is easy for anyone to provide a consistent experience for clients. 

  1. Conduct a thoughtful pre-screening

To avoid wasting time on clients who are not a good fit for your practice, conduct a thorough pre-screening process. While lawyers are naturally inclined to help, it is important to recognize when a problem or individual does not align with your practice area, workload, or firm size. Use brief phone calls to assess the client’s needs, such as the specific assistance they are seeking and whether they have previously worked with a lawyer.  

  1. Practice active listening during the initial consult

During the initial consultation or phone call, actively listen to your client and demonstrate emotional sensitivity. Clients often seek legal assistance during challenging life circumstances, which may involve heightened emotions or stress. Establishing comfort and trust from the start can greatly influence their decision to choose your services.  

  1. Discuss fees transparently

Allocate sufficient time during the initial consultation to discuss your billing process, accepted payment methods, and other payment-related details. Transparency regarding fees is crucial for setting expectations and ensuring that clients can afford your services in a manner that works for both parties. Explore alternative billing methods, such as flat fees or payment plans, to accommodate varying client needs.  

  1. Integrate with practice management software

Streamline your client intake process and eliminate duplicate data entry by integrating client intake with practice management software. This integration simplifies information input, improves accuracy, and enhances efficiency. 

For example, if you use Clio Manage, Clio Grow integrates directly with it, which enables the automation of creating new contacts and matters, as well as transferring information from client intake forms to custom fields within your practice management software. By reducing manual data entry, you save valuable time and minimize the risk of errors. 

  1. Track potential clients by stage

Create a system to track potential clients based on their stage in the intake process. Implement well-defined stages, such as “not yet contacted,” “needs follow-up,” or “intake form pending,” to gain clarity on the actions required for each client. This systematic approach ensures that potential clients do not slip through the cracks and that appropriate follow-up steps are taken, and can be easily viewed in the Pipeline view of Clio Grow.  

  1. Automate engagement agreements

Simplify the process of creating engagement agreements by utilizing document automation software such as Lawyaw. Develop standardized templates that encompass various situations and matter types, and use the software to auto-populate relevant data into these templates. This automation ensures consistency, reduces administrative burdens, and enhances efficiency. 

  1. Offer e-signatures

To streamline the client intake process further, provide the option for e-signatures on fee agreements and other relevant documents. By eliminating the need for physical signatures, you reduce barriers and expedite the onboarding process. Intake tools such as Clio Grow feature this option.  

  1. Automate your intake process

According to the Legal Trends Report, lawyers spend less than three hours on average on billable work. 

Automation can help. With the right setup, you can take your online client intake to the next level and easily bring on new clients in a fraction of the time with less data entry—and less risk of error.  

With checklists, automated-yet-personalized emails, and more, Clio Grow can help create a smooth client intake experience for clients, with less time spent by lawyers and staff. Book a demo today to see how it works. 

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