Legal Intake Optimization: How Law Firms Can Drive Growth with a More Efficient Client Intake Process
Whether you manage a large law firm with locations worldwide or a boutique personal injury practice from a virtual office, your legal client intake process is how you win new cases and bring in new business. Without a steady stream of new clients, your firm will have a hard time achieving and maintaining an upward trajectory of success no matter how good you or your lawyers are at practicing law.
So what exactly does legal intake encompass? And how can you make yours even better? Let’s start at the very beginning.
What Is Legal Intake?
Legal intake is the process by which law firms interact with potential new clients to discover their needs and find out if the firm can help them. It typically begins when prospective clients reach out to the firm after hearing about it through advertising, the firm’s or lawyer’s reputation, or other marketing efforts.
Intake serves several purposes for a law firm including:
- Information gathering to determine the facts of the case and areas where the firm can be of service, and to conduct conflict checks.
- Evaluating the value of the case to the law firm in terms of potential fees, time needed, likelihood of a positive outcome, and other factors specific to the firm’s unique needs.
- Communication to establish trust and convert leads or to find referral opportunities if your law firm isn’t the best fit for the particular client’s needs.
Having an efficient legal client intake process is critical to your firm’s business development efforts. Otherwise, all efforts to attract new clients to your law firm will go to waste.
What Is Legal Intake Optimization?
Legal intake optimization is the ongoing process of streamlining your law firm’s client intake process to maximize efficiency while driving client satisfaction and revenue growth. If legal intake is the heart of your firm’s business development efforts, then optimization is a fitness regimen that gets your law firm into top shape. Before you know it, you’ll be inundated with new cases and new client relationships to create sustained growth and increased profitability.
How Can You Optimize Your Law Firm’s Client Intake Process?
Some of the factors that can affect your law firm’s intake efforts include your competitors, your marketing, and of course, your intake process.
Competition for prospective clients among personal injury law firms is so fierce that sometimes it’s hard to tell each firm apart. But, this presents your firm with an opportunity to differentiate itself with a client intake process that demonstrates your empathy and trustworthiness.
Learn More: 3 Keys to Successful Intakes, Part 1
We’ve found that the majority of clients take action within a week of realizing they need a lawyer, and that most reach out to only one attorney. This means it’s crucial for your firm to be front and center in your clients’ search for legal services. An optimized legal intake process includes very granular and intentional allocation of marketing dollars.
Learn More: Getting Actionable Insights From Your Marketing Analytics
When a potential client reaches out, they need help and are likely in an unpleasant state of mind. An intake process that shows you care and that you want to solve your clients’ problems will make them feel better and will give them confidence that you’re the right lawyer to hire. Focus on client-centered relationships and delivering a consistent client experience at every point of contact.
By optimizing your intake process, you’ll be able to get ahead of your competitors so potential clients will be more likely to engage your services. And optimizing the client intake process for your law firm begins long before a lead calls in. Your goal with for all your client relationships should be to earn a wholeheartedly positive review at the end of each engagement. Positive reviews will drive leads and new intakes.
Three Pillars of Legal Intake Optimization
Optimizing client intake for your law firm starts with performing a business analysis in three areas to identify trends, opportunities, and obstacles to your law firm’s success that need to be addressed: business operations, software implementation, and the client experience.
An optimized law firm intake process strives to make the best use of firm and staff capabilities. To this end, optimized law firm intake should include:
- Automated intake processes to eliminate redundancies and repetitive tasks that eat up valuable time, such as manual data entry.
- A method for weighing more desirable clients against less desirable ones, such as a lead scoring system so you can focus your efforts on the most valuable cases that best fit your firm.
- A dedicated, highly trained intake team of legal professionals to handle intake calls and ask questions that uncover valuable information, such as high value cases, additional causes of action, and referral opportunities.
Technology is a necessary aspect of optimized intake for successful law firms. To support your intake business operations, you’ll need a software package with the following features:
- A management dashboard that allows you to set, manage, and delegate intake tasks and monitor the conversion rate of your intake staff members. You can evaluate employee productivity and identify both high performers and those who need more training.
- Analytics that allow you to capture data at each point of contact that you can review and use to gain insights for your marketing and intake strategy.
- Integrated online intake forms that collect all the pertinent information you need to determine if the case is a fit for your firm, then automatically populate your files and client documents with that data.
The Client Experience
Processes and technology are great, but you can’t forget the human aspect of your business model, either. Your clients are reaching out to you because they’re in pain, figuratively and often literally. They need to know that you care about them as people and not just as clients.
Optimizing client intake takes this into consideration in the following ways:
- Training your intake staff in techniques to communicate empathy and compassion, such as by actively listening and building rapport by asking follow up questions.
- Thinking of legal intake as a client journey and putting yourself in the shoes of a person who needs the services you provide – ask yourself what experience you’d want as a client of your own law firm, then make your intake process reflect that.
- Quickly responding to client inquiries when they reach out, even if you don’t have any updates. Though there may be nothing new to report, getting back in a timely manner still shows that you’re considerate of your client’s feelings.
What Advantages Do Law Firms Gain When They Optimize their Legal Intake Process?
Optimizing your client intake process takes a serious commitment from the top down to continually improve the client experience across all aspects of intake on an ongoing basis. But, if you and your staff choose the right intake software and make the commitment to follow through, then you can expect to realize the following benefits:
- More new cases you want
Optimized intake enables you to take less time to dig deeper during interactions with prospective clients, and find cases that fit your practice and your firm. It also consistently demonstrates the value you provide so that the clients you want are more likely to choose you – not your competitors.
- Convenient client conversion
Clients often consider multiple law firms when making their decision about whom to hire, but optimized intake helps you close new business quickly with online forms and e-signature integration. As a result, you can convert clients on the spot before they’re wooed away by another firm.
- Greater productivity from happier, more successful staff
When your intake team has the training, management, and tools they need to be successful, you’ll find that their productivity increases.
How GrowPath Legal Case Management Software Helps You Optimize Your Legal Intake Process
GrowPath helps law firms like yours maximize revenue by finding more cases and helping you move them faster. With GrowPath, your law firm can optimize how it onboards new clients in the following ways:
Increased conversion rates
Automated messaging allows you to set the frequency and cadence of your follow up in communications with prospective clients, so you’re able to stay in front of them without being disruptive.
AI-driven Lead Scoring to nab only on the cases you want
Improve your intake by objectively scoring leads. GrowPath will help your intake staff members quickly identify lucrative cases, convert them on the spot, and push them to the best and most appropriate attorney to handle each one.
Specify which keywords and phrases your software should monitor for during client interactions. When these trigger words are used, team members are alerted to follow up – and which questions to ask in doing so. For example, a discussion with a client about a car accident case might trigger a Buzzword that uncovers a lead for a medical malpractice case as well.
Improved organization and efficiency
GrowPath’s fully integrated conversion system means there are no obstacles once the client decides you’re the attorney they want. Intake files convert to case management files at the click of a button. This means no duplicate data entry, which saves your firm time and money.
Cookie cutter intake questionnaires waste everybody’s time. As your staff engage in an intake call with a prospective client, GrowPath directs them with follow up questions based on the lead’s answers to previous questions. This saves time and money, and gives you a better perspective as to whether the case fits your practice.
These days, people want to sign documents electronically, whether that’s on their phone, a tablet, or their laptop. GrowPath has integrated AssureSign so your intake team can generate forms during the intake call and have the client e-sign a retainer on the spot.
“Before GrowPath, intake was a much slower, clunkier process. If you were to offer us a lot of money to go back to our old case management system, we’d say no. There’s no doubt we’re doing a better job for the clients and better work for the firm as a result of GrowPath.” -Michael Jordan, Law Firm Partner and Intake Attorney
Want to find out how GrowPath can help you optimize intake – and every other aspect of your law firm’s operations? Sign up for a demo to learn how we can help you get more clients, more revenue, and more cases you want, guaranteed.