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3 Keys to Successful Intakes, Part 3: After the Call 

Office phone and stopwatch sit at starting line of hurdled track where “client signed’ is the finish

Assuming you have not signed the client immediately – the best case scenario – there’s more work to do. If you’ve done the intake correctly and want the case, the path ahead should be clear. While most people tend to focus on what happens after an intake call, this also applies to missed calls. 

By not signing, the potential client should have triggered the next steps. We covered this in a previous piece – and now we’re going to focus on it. 

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

This is the fourth in our series of blogs that cover intake case management for law firms. Here are links to the series: 

Small Firms After the Call: Be Systematic, Be Punctual, Be Aggressive 

Follow-up is a very straightforward part of the intake process, but as you may have guessed, many firms get it wrong. Whether it’s a call you took, a call that went to voicemail, or an electronic inquiry, the clock is ticking. The approach to getting that client is the same, though the steps may differ.  

Be Systematic: Have a System for Responding 

When someone in the firm takes a call and sets a follow-up, who makes that follow-up call? It will likely be an attorney if one did not take the original call. Establish a system for follow-ups – perhaps different attorneys do so on different days or weeks. Or maybe all follow-ups happen in the morning. Whatever fits your firm’s workflow is fine, but systematize it. Make sure it gets done as quickly as possible. 

For callbacks from voicemails and online inquiries, you’re essentially just initiating a new intake call from your side, with a few blanks filled in. Return calls or emails as soon as possible. Those clients were on the phone or online with other firms after they hung up with yours. 

Send an email or text to recap every call and talk about the next step. Progress is essential to clients, and next steps imply progress. You may be able to automate this task and others if you have tools capable of doing so. 

Be Punctual: Treat the Client Like a Judge 

We’re not going to belabor this point. You wouldn’t be late responding to a judge, so don’t be late responding to a client. If you can’t be timely for a simple call back, you give one of the following impressions: 

  1. You’re too busy, in which case the client’s case won’t get the attention it deserves. 
  2. You don’t care, in which case, why would a client sign with you? 
  3. You’re disorganized, in which case a client would be right to lack confidence in you. 

If you’re none of these things, you shouldn’t have any trouble calling back on time. Many case management software tools have reminder features, though their implementation varies by platform. Use your tools.  

Be Aggressive: Clients Want to Feel Wanted 

If you’re at this point in the intakes process, you want this client’s case. Don’t be afraid to tell them so.  

“I think we can help you with your case, and I’d like to get started today if possible.” 

You’d be amazed at how receptive a client will be to an eager law firm. If you want the case and have not the facts as you understand them. A common reason that firms do not get cases is they never ask for them. Always ask for the “sale.”

Large Firms After the Call: Reining in Chaos, Case Management, Always Improve 

Firms don’t get large without being systematic about their work, though those systems can vary from steam-age reams of paper and ink to streamlined, cutting-edge cloud-based systems. Both can work, obviously, these things are only barely comparable. A paper airplane and a cargo jet are both planes in simple terms. In realistic terms? Not so much. 

Rein in the Chaos With Organization 

Chaos, in this instance, is the number of files, forms, and paperwork you’re pushing around between people. It’s juggling attorney workdays with callbacks. It’s the passing of the buck and where the buck stops. There are so many failure points in most firm processes that we could probably fill a book with them. Here are a few common ones: 

  • Handoff between intake and attorney/paralegal  
  • File creation, location, ownership, and access 
  • Scheduling and reminders 

Most large firms use case management software that helps them address these issues, but we find that they adapt to the software’s limitations without even realizing it. Yes, you could probably be more efficient in converting your intakes to clients and their information to case files. 

Case Management Begins at Intake, and Firms Are Losing Time Doing It ‘the Old Way’ 

The moment you take a single piece of information from a client, you’re creating the case file, right? Think about the big picture of your case management at the intake step. What are you doing? What could be better? 

If most firms are honest, we believe there is room to improve the process. Here are just a few examples: 

  • If you’re mainly using paper files, there’s room to improve. The opportunity for information loss is too great (ex: most lawyers’ penmanship – you know who you are), and the time you’re spending with paper should be spent with the client and their case. Most firms are at least partly digital. If you’re mainly using paper, good news. You have a clear path to better intakes.   
  • If you’re using a file server and not a cloud-based system, there’s room to improve. Putting an intake into a file and popping it on a shared server for everyone to access sounds great until multiple people mess with the file at once. Now you have disparate versions. Cloud-based systems make everything more manageable and the intake-to-case-file conversion much smoother.  
  • If you’re using your email as your filing system, there’s room to improve. Your inbox is not where all of this belongs, regardless of how many folders you use and how well-organized you think you are. Many attorneys still organize their files this way. What happens if those emails get deleted? Or, more likely, when someone else needs to find that information?  
  • If your case management system doesn’t help you at the intake step, there’s room to improve. Some firms have specific intake software or services that stop once the intake step is done. By using a siloed approach and disconnecting the intake from the case management, you’re building in a point of failure.  

Keep Improving 

It stands to reason that large firms generally have a follow-up system in place. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect. However, the general attitude of most law firms, especially the large ones, is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” 

That’s fine if you don’t mind hitting your head against a low efficiency bar, losing cases to competitors, and leaving money on the table year after year. If you’re okay with that, continue the old ways by all means. If not, do an honest audit of your intake process. Does what you have equal what you want?  

If Only Firms Had Better Tools to Help With Intake Case Management… 

There are a lot of firms, large and small, that are hobbled by old or outright awful ineffective intake case management software and tools. Are we right for your firm? Well, our next piece will wrap up our intakes series with some tips on how to assess your firm’s needs and pick the right tools to help your employees succeed.  

Want to learn more about GrowPath and how its patented tools can help you manage your firm? Schedule a demo today.

June 16, 2022