How To Set Up Your Law Firm Intake Department For Success 

November 14 , 2022 | BY admin

law firm intake

If you want your law firm to succeed, your intake department is critical. Client intake involves bringing in new clients and obtaining the information needed to open cases. The process is time-consuming, especially for small firms, also, most of this work is unbillable.

Whether you are launching your law firm or have been operating for years, streamlining your client intake is critical to make the best impression on clients. A smooth client intake department also keeps leads coming in that turn into clients. Continue reading to learn everything you need to improve your law firm intake department for long-term success. If you need help with lawyer marketing, FORWARD Lawyer Marketing can help.

What Is the Goal Of Law Firm Intake?

Client intake is the process of attracting and landing new legal customers. This includes their initial interaction with your law firm when they sign to represent them. The law firm intake process consists of these aspects:

  • Attracting new legal clients: You may find clients through family, friends, pay-per-lead, website traffic, SEO marketing, pay-per-click, blog marketing, and more.
  • Obtaining prospect contact information: It is essential to make it easy for prospects to give you their contact details, including name, phone, home and work addresses, email, and more. The more contact information you have, the easier it will be to sign them as clients.
  • Pre-screening: Before they visit for the first consultation, you can save time by getting enough case information early on to know if they are a fit.
  • Checking for conflicts: Your process should uncover possible conflicts of interest that exist.
  • First consultation: You can give them access to your schedule so they can book themselves for their first appointment.
  • Gathering additional information: Many lawyers use a law firm intake questionnaire to obtain further information needed to represent them.
  • Setting up a fee agreement: This can be done automatically once you have the client’s information from your questionnaire.
  • New client administration: Send them information about when and how to pay legal bills, when you are available for questions, the next steps in their case, etc.
  • It matters that you pay attention to your firm’s intake process. The closer you are to the process, the more chances you have to improve it. A smooth intake process means a better customer experience and less staff work. Both aspects mean more money and profitability for your firm. 

Ensure that all of these steps are handled appropriately so no prospects fall through the cracks. Also, follow these guidelines: 

Respond To Leads Immediately

Timing is everything in life, and it is true for law firms. When a legal prospect submits an inquiry form or calls your office, ensure they connect with a staff member immediately. Responding to leads quickly means more conversions. Perhaps you are busy with a client, but you can have an administrative assistant or paralegal answer their questions. If you are a solo firm, you can give them access to your online schedule so they can book a time to talk to you.

Also, consider hiring virtual receptionists to respond to prospects calling your office. Ideally, they should answer the phone as soon as the prospect calls. If not, have them call back within five minutes.

Further, marketing studies show that more than making a single return phone call is needed. Your firm should try to call the contact three to five times, or the person says they are not interested in your services. Your staff can also use other means to contact the person, such as text or email. Just ensure that someone makes an effort to contact the person several times.

Many law firms prefer to have a lead intake specialist on staff. This helps your firm to respond to incoming leads almost immediately. It also ensures you obtain the information needed to determine if they are a potential client. Your intake specialist can also sign clients immediately or connect them to a lawyer. A person specializing in lead intake can be crucial in improving the process and signing more clients.

Increase Lead Value

Wherever your firm gets its legal leads, always try to maximize their value before looking for more. One way to increase the value of leads is to eliminate friction in the law firm intake process. Clients are busy and may need several contacts before you can speak to them. So provide several ways for them to contact you, including phone, email, text, and social media.

Some legal clients like credit cards or checks. Some want to call on the phone to set up an appointment, and others prefer virtual appointments. Try to accommodate people’s preferences and reduce hiccups in the intake department, so you squeeze value out of those leads.

Get The Lead Connected With An Attorney ASAP

Most attorneys do not take intake calls. However, you need to get the prospect on the phone with an attorney as soon as possible. Your firm can make an excellent first impression by putting them on the telephone with an attorney in the first few minutes of the contact.

Sometimes you can sign the legal client without the attorney’s direct involvement. If you can, that is great. But many clients want to talk to an attorney before signing an agreement.

Ask Questions During The Intake Process

When you have the legal prospect on the phone, you have much control over what happens. This is your golden opportunity to impress them and make the best case to win their business. Also, you can make many mistakes here that could cause them to go elsewhere.

Best practices during the intake phone call are:

  • Use a script: Your law firm should have an intake call script everyone uses. If you wrote one already, it can constantly be improved. For example, if your staff loses prospects at about the same time in every call, you should revamp your script.
  • Listen carefully: When the prospect tells you about their case, you must listen carefully and actively. This shows you are concerned about their case. You also will be able to ask questions specific to their situation.
  • Obtain essential information: You should get everything you need about the case. Also, find out how they learned about your law firm, how old they are, and what they do for a living. Finally, find out more information about them; it will help with marketing.
  • Ask informed questions: You should have a more advanced call script for some instances. Once you have the basic information, the ‘smart script’ has follow-up questions that depend on what they tell you.
  • Notes: Listening is essential, but you must also write the necessary information. Whether you use a CRM or a notepad, focus on the facts. You will need to ask them to repeat everything later if you still need to write things down.
  • Refrain from repeating questions: Someone may have already talked to the prospect, so you should have their basic case information. For instance, if it is a car accident victim, you should already know they are 40 years old and have a back injury. When getting more information, ask for more details about their injuries and treatments. Do not ask them ‘tell me about your injury’ because that was already asked before. It frustrates people if they repeat the same information to other staff.
  • Ask for their business: If you think they are a good fit for your practice, ask to represent them. Some clients may want to meet you face to face before agreeing but have electronic documents ready for them to sign if they prefer. Make it as easy as possible for them to sign up with you.

Know Prospect Status

A common problem with many law firms is losing track of a prospect. You should always know where that person is in your intake process. How this is tracked depends on your staff and tools. If you only use paralegals and admin staff, how do you know who is talking to whom and when? How will you measure how calls are being handled? What systems do you have to ensure the prospect’s concerns are being addressed?

Law firms that use legal intake software usually have an edge. Features that help track where clients are in the onboarding process include reminders, calendar invites, auto-scheduling, and other tools that ensure the client is being contacted and guided through the process.

More advanced intake tools send prompts and reminders to people at critical parts of the intake process. They also show the status of the task or client to supervisors. These tools tell you who needs to call. CRM software does not guarantee a smooth intake process, but it helps.

Need Help With Your Law Firm Marketing?

The above tips for law firm intake are just an overview. Sometimes it takes the help of a lawyer marketing company to get your marketing and intake processes going smoothly. FORWARD Lawyer Marketing can assist you if you have legal marketing questions.