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The Legal Client Intake Process

The Ultimate Guide to the legal Intake Process for Your Law Firm.

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Settify is the global leader in client intake systems for law firms.

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Is your intake process holding your law firm back? The legal client intake process is one of the most vital components of any successful law firm. It’s the first step in establishing a relationship and setting the tone for the lawyer-client relationship.

Have you thought about automating this process? With technological advancements, law firms can easily automate the process, saving time and money.

Settify is one such technology helping law firms improve their client intake process. As experts in successful client onboarding, we have put together this ultimate guide to the client intake process. We will cover everything you need to know to ensure a seamless and efficient intake process, providing a comprehensive and detailed look at the process.

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What Is Client Intake in Law

Client intake is the initial process where law firms collect essential information about prospective clients to determine if they are a good fit for the firm. It typically involves gathering personal and legal information relevant to the matter.

A lawyer will use the data collected during the intake process to evaluate the potential client’s needs, determine the viability of their claim, and decide if the law firm is the right fit for the particular client.

In some circumstances such as family law when a prospective client is going through a hard time, technology such as Settify helps them to be able to do this process in their own time. Making the best first impression.

The Client Intake Process

The client intake process typically involves the following steps:

Initial Consultation
The initial consultation is the first meeting between the law firm and the client. This meeting aims to gather information about the client’s legal issue, discuss the law firm’s services, and provide the client with an overview of the legal process.As technology has advanced and society becomes more comfortable using it in their private lives, the initial consultation may happen via video conferencing, over the phone, or in person. It’s essential that the client feels comfortable and that the lawyer asks open-ended questions while actively listening to the client’s concerns.Remember, this is your first impression. Make it count.

Conflict Check
The law firm will conduct a conflict check to ensure they have no conflicts of interest that would prevent them from representing the client. The conflict check will see the firm search its records to confirm that no existing clients or previous cases create a conflict for the potential client seeking their services. It is essential to be thorough in this step, as conflicts can lead to ethical and professional issues down the line.

Engagement Letter
Once the conflict check is complete, the law firm will send an engagement letter to the client. This letter outlines the terms and scope of the representation, the fees, and the payment terms. A clear and comprehensive engagement letter is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and protect the client and the law firm.

Information Gathering
The law firm will gather information about the client, their legal issue, and the case. This includes personal information about the client, such as their name, address, and contact details. Information about the client’s legal issue, such as the nature of the claim and the parties involved, is also documented. This step is vital for developing a solid strategy and understanding the client’s needs.

Intake Form
The law firm may use an intake form to gather information from the client. This form can be filled out online or in person. It typically includes questions about the client’s legal concerns, personal information, and contact information. A well-designed intake form can help streamline the information-gathering process and ensure that all necessary information is collected.

File Opening
Once the law firm has gathered all the necessary information, it will open a file for the client. This file will contain all the data collected during the intake process, including the engagement letter, the intake form, and other relevant documents. The file should be organised and easily accessible to all team members working on the case.

Why Does Legal Intake Matter

An efficient and effective client intake process can make a real difference for your law firm. A well-designed intake process can help you save time, reduce errors, and ultimately benefit your bottom line. Identifying the clients best suited to your practice from the outset, will save you time and resources on cases that may not be profitable for your firm. A smooth intake process can also enhance the client’s experience, increasing the likelihood of referrals and positive reviews.

Streamline your workflow
One of the main benefits of an effective legal intake process is that it can streamline your workflow. By having a straightforward and efficient process for onboarding new clients, you can ensure you are not wasting time on unnecessary paperwork or tasks. This, in turn, allows you to focus on the legal work that matters most and can help you to achieve better outcomes for your clients.

Improve client communication
An effective legal intake process can also help to improve client communication. By taking the time to listen to your clients and showing that you understand their needs, your client is more likely to feel like they can entrust their matter with you for a positive outcome.

Reduce the risk of malpractice
An effective legal intake process will minimise the risk of malpractice. You can identify potential issues early by gathering all the necessary information about a case and adequately vetting potential clients. Equally as important, this will help you avoid taking on matters not a good fit for your firm or cases with a high risk of failure.

Let your reputation precede you
By providing a professional and efficient onboarding experience for potential clients, you will, in turn, create a positive impression that can help to attract new business. Word of mouth goes a long way in building a firm’s reputation, so it is important to impress your clients from the very first steps to facilitate growth in a highly competitive legal landscape.

Increase revenue
Finally, an effective legal intake process can help increase your firm’s revenue. Taking on the right cases and providing high-quality service can build a reputation as a trusted and skilled legal provider. Your proven successes will foster confidence in your firm’s name, helping you attract new clients and retain existing ones, which can positively impact your bottom line.

Client Intake Best Practices

As a law firm, the client intake process is one of the most critical stages in building a successful case. It’s the first step towards establishing a positive client relationship and sets the foundation for the entire legal process. Depending on the firm, the intake process may be driven by technology or completed in the more traditional approach, where the lawyer and client meet to go over the foundational information surrounding the matter. Regardless of how your firm operates, we have listed some proven methods to help enhance the way you onboard clients.

Use Technology
Use technology to automate the client intake process. Many software solutions can streamline the process and make it easier for clients to provide the necessary information. For example, tools like Google Forms can create more basic online forms. Software platforms like Settify can elevate the process for a more bespoke and professional feel. These tools allow clients to fill out the form and submit it online at their convenience.

Keep it Simple
The client intake form should be easy to understand and complete. Use simple language and avoid legal jargon as much as possible. Clients are more likely to complete the intake form if they can easily provide the necessary information without feeling overwhelmed.

Keep it Relevant
The client intake form should capture all the relevant information about the client and their case. The form should request the client’s name, address, contact details, and information about the client’s situation, such as the type of legal issue and a summary of the facts.

Clear Instructions
Ensure that the client intake form includes clear instructions on how to fill it out. Provide examples of the information required and give clients an idea of how long it will take to complete the form. Taking the time to create an intake form that is easily understood will help reduce uncertainty and errors. Avoid the potential for potential clients to ‘rage quit’ because they do not know what information you are looking for!

Offer Support
Provide support to clients who are filling out the form. A great way to do this is to include a helpline or chatbot that can answer questions a client may have as they go through the process. It’s also a good idea to follow up with clients who have submitted the form to determine if they have any questions and confirm that they have provided all the necessary information.

How to Correctly Perform The Manual Client Intake Practices

Not all law firms have the resources to use technology for client intake. For those that rely on manual processes, here are some best practices to follow:

Your staff are your best asset
Ensure that your staff are skilled at conducting client intake effectively. Be sure they know how to ask relevant questions and handle difficult situations. Your team should also be able to identify potential conflicts of interest.

Consistency is key
Maintain simplicity and efficiency by having standardised client intake forms for all matters. Nothing is more annoying than receiving information piecemeal; having one comprehensive intake form will ensure that all the necessary information is captured and the process is always consistent.

Keep it relevant
Regardless of how the information is collected, only ask the client information to provide information that is relevant to their case. They will appreciate not having to document their life’s story in detail but rather relay those pertinent sections to their legal situation. Keeping the questions to a minimum will make the process faster and more efficient.

Show Empathy
Client intake can be emotional, particularly in private matters like family law. Be empathetic towards clients and show that you understand their situation. This will help to establish trust and build a positive relationship.

Follow Up
After the client intake process is complete, follow up with clients to ensure they have all the information they need to move forward and provide them with the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns. Offering this kind of check-in will help to establish trust and set the foundation for a positive relationship.

Whether using technology or a manual process to complete your client onboarding, be sure to:

  1. Assign a dedicated staff member to oversee the intake process: Designate a team member to manage the client intake process, ensuring consistency and efficiency. This person should be responsible for training, monitoring, and continuously improving the intake process.
  2. Follow Up with your client after the intake process is complete. Ensure they have all the necessary information and answer any questions they may have. Follow-up will show that you are interested in the client and their best interests and set the foundation for a positive relationship.

Using Technology To Enhance The Client Intake Process

The client intake process must be efficient, accurate, and professional in the legal industry to provide clients with the best possible experience. Fortunately, technology has made this process more manageable. Platforms like Settify can significantly help law firms improve their client intake process.

Some benefits of using Settify include the following:

Fewer errors
With manual data entry, there’s always a risk of making mistakes, leading to delays and confusion. Settify automates the intake process, minimising the risk of errors and ensuring that client data is entered correctly. As a result, law firms can save time and provide better service to their clients.

Professional look
Systems like Settify help law firms appear professional and forward-thinking. The platform is user-friendly and visually appealing, which creates a positive impression on clients. It also provides a seamless client experience, making it easier for them to provide the necessary information. Using Settify, law firms can enhance their reputation and establish client trust.

Better intake habits
Automating the intake process ensures that every client receives the same level of service. This consistency fosters and feeds the positive impression provided to clients, assuring them that their matter is in safe hands and their legal team is organised and efficient. A happy client is likelier to leave a positive review for your firm.

Seamless client service
Technology-based intake allows law firms to record and house client data in one central location. In this way, legal teams can easily access and review client information, ensuring they have all the necessary details to provide exceptional service. It also enables law firms to track client progress, identify areas of improvement, and make necessary adjustments. Furthermore, Settify’s integration with leading practice management systems can help firms seamlessly migrate client data into matters without rekeying information.

How To Automate The Client Intake Process

The client intake process is essential for law firms to understand their clients’ legal needs and gather the necessary information to evaluate their situation. However, traditional client intake processes can be time-consuming, error-prone, and may not provide the best client experience. With technological advancements, law firms can automate their client intake process, saving time, reducing errors, and improving client satisfaction.

Here are some ways Settify facilitates automation:

Online Intake Forms
Law firms can use online intake forms that clients can fill out before their initial consultation. One of the most popular software solutions for automating the client intake process for law firms is Settify. Settify asks the right questions to gather the information firms require for a valuable initial meeting. It uses smart AI algorithms to ask probing follow-up questions based on client responses, giving lawyers clear insights into the client’s needs.

Automated reminders and notifications
One of the significant benefits of automating the client intake process is the ability to follow up with leads at the right time. Settify’s automation features enable law firms to set up follow-up reminders and notifications, provide additional information about the law firm, and remind the client of any documents or information they need to bring to the consultation. Saving firms admin time while offering an enhanced client experience by keeping the client informed and engaged throughout the process.

Integration with your PMS
Settify’s platform syncs seamlessly with leading legal practice management systems to improve practice workflows. Create and populate matters directly from the data entered into the Settify platform during the intake process – this has been shown to save about 30 minutes per matter, reducing rekeying while increasing accuracy and efficiency.

Client progress tracking
Settify’s platform lets lawyers and their teams keep abreast of the client’s process. Firms can track the status of a client as they go through the onboarding process, ensuring that they receive timely communication throughout the intake process. This feature improves the client experience and reduces the time it takes to convert a lead into a client.

Analytics and data-driven improvements
Finally, Settify’s platform provides valuable analytics and data that law firms can use to improve their intake process. This data includes conversion rates, intake times, and client satisfaction metrics. These insights enable law firms to make data-driven decisions, optimise their intake process, and provide better client service.

Provide The Best Experience For Your Clients

Making a great first impression is one of the most critical aspects of providing an exceptional client experience. The first impression sets the tone for the entire relationship. It can be the difference between gaining a new client or losing them to a competitor. Here are some tips to ensure you make the best first impression possible:

Be prepared
When meeting with a new client, make sure you are fully prepared for the meeting. Review their case information beforehand, and be ready to answer any questions they may have. Having a working knowledge of your client’s matter shows that you value their time and are committed to helping them with their legal matter.

Be professional
Dress appropriately and be on time for the meeting. Greet your client with a warm smile and a firm handshake. Show them that you are a professional who takes their legal matter seriously and will handle it professionally and with empathy.

Be engaging
Listen carefully to your client’s concerns during the meeting and ask questions to understand their situation better. Show them that you are engaged and genuinely interested in helping them resolve their legal matter. This will help build trust and establish a strong rapport with your client.

Be clear
Ensure your client understands what to expect throughout the legal process. Explain the steps involved in their case, the timeline, and their role. Clarity will help prevent misunderstandings and ensure your client feels informed and in control.

After the meeting, follow up with an email or call to thank your client for their time and reiterate any important details discussed. A few minutes of your time here will consolidate your client’s goodwill and desire to proceed with you as their representative.

The first impression is crucial in establishing a long-term relationship with your clients. Applications such as Settify streamline your intake process, save time, and improve the overall experience for your clients. Settify’s client intake platform is visually appealing and easy to use, which can help your firm stand out. Settify also makes engaging with leads easier and provides a seamless experience for your clients.

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