The clients are one of the most crucial parts and assets of a law firm. Lawyers are liable to define this relationship as it’s important for their professional satisfaction and law firm growth. To provide the best experience to clients, they must have a smooth process from the very beginning to the end.
According to a research report, most clients face problems in the onboarding process. Whether you are someone who is starting your new law practice or someone who is already running a law firm, it’s equally important for both to have a streamlined client intake process. The ultimate key is to make a good first impression on your clients.
What do you mean by the client intake process?
Client intake is a process of onboarding clients in a law firm and gaining personal information from them. This information will help lawyers in opening up the case. The client intake is often considered time-consuming for lawyers because usually, it’s unbillable.
Lawyers need to know how they can create seamless and effective client intake forms that can help the lawyer and the client to define the tone of their relationship. A well-composed client intake form will have all the required details which will showcase the firm’s professionalism. If you are new to this and don’t know from where to start, we have got you covered. In this blog, we will discuss all the important aspects of a client intake form.
Understanding client intake process
Attracting Potential Clients
Everything we have demonstrated so far leads us to the very first step to the client intake process. New leads can reach you from anywhere, but majorly, it comes from referrals, social media, blogs, websites, and paid ads. Clients may find you when they search for law firms in their local city.
Acquiring Contact Information
Acquiring basic information with ease should be the very first step towards converting a lead into a paying client. This can take place via sign-up forms or gated content through automated chatbots.
Before you schedule a consultation to meet with your potential client, pre-screening lets you know if the client is even fit for your practice. This way, you can refer the client to other attorneys, which will fit their needs if you can’t.
Make sure that you don’t have any commitment to anyone or any conflict that you can’t work for the incoming client. For example, if the potential client is the opposite party, in some other case, you are responsible for.
Allow your client to book an initial consultation with your client intake software or practice management software, like CaseFox. Enabling clients to easily submit details in effective client intake forms and custom templates.
Collecting Details and Information
Ask your clients to share the key points and details that you will need to open a legal case for your clients.
Signing Fee Agreement
An agreement is signed by the client about all the information like fees, billable hours, billing cycle, arrangements, and procedure, which is agreed upon and then signed by the client. With the right tools, this form can be easily generated by taking the information for clients’ intake form.
Have detailed communication with clients about the billing cycle, how they can contact you with urgency, how to pay their bills, and other such important information.
Key components of the client intake form:
The client intake form is a vital part of the intake process of serious leads, which later can turn into paying clients. Therefore, it’s important to design the client intake form in such a way that it can distinguish between various leads and potential leads that are just seeking some information but don’t have the intention to become a paying client.
From both of the client intake forms will gather information for serious leads which will be needed for a follow-up by the lawyer and considered lawyer in preparing initial case facts and opening up legal cases. Such information includes name, contact details, address, fax if available, the basic idea of what the case is about.
Another important aspect of the law firm client intake form is the case information. This may include case information, parties who are involved, income, current employment, and details about the case. This type of information outlines all the important information about the legal case, such as what is the case about, if there is a conflict, any obstacles the firm will face while working on this case, and budget limitations.
For large law firms, this information helps law firms to screen candidates and direct them into the right departments. Some information may indicate that the potential client needs a different law firm. In such cases, law firms refer the client to other law firms.
Client intake forms are a great way to know about their current client base or acquisition process. Not all leads will end up signing the title of paying client, but you can take advantage by adding a section in client intake about the referral section. This will let you know how the lead ended up coming to you.
Questions about the client, how they reached your firm, such as by getting referred by friends or family, or word of mouth, social media, content marketing, an online search or paid ads, etc.
Retainer agreements are time-consuming and exhausting even with the templates, it is difficult and needs changing of names and other details for every new client. This process is an important part of the intake and requires agreement from the client that they know the consequences of retaining the services.
Retainer agreements are a good opportunity to outline any specific expectations, procedures, and policies. This process of generating legal retainer agreements can be simplified by practice management software, as they can replace all the essential parts of information when needed.
Giving clients a transparent process about fees will just benefit them, but also benefit you in a way. Clients will trust you more, you are giving exceptional client service. Clients always prefer a seamless and smooth process for payments.
The client intake form should include details about fees, any payment plans, what are the payment methods if there are any payment plans that can convert fees into smaller amounts, and all such information.
After the intake process, setting up a consultation meeting as a follow-up appointment and communicating all the aspects of the case is very crucial for the starting stage, as it avoids clients seeking other law firms for consultation.
Scheduling a hassle-free follow-up appointment through an intake form shouldn’t be a problem if you use the right tools.
Creating a client intake form that has all the information eases up the process of onboarding of clients and can automatically build a seamless process. Giving clients the best experience from the very start will portray an image of great professionalism and exceptional customer service. If all of this is too much time taking and effort that you don’t have time for, then you automate this entire process by just adapting to case management software, where you can just make one template once and use it for all of your clients and share the link to your website as well. It gets even better with the client intake feature of CaseFox.