What Are The Steps In The Law Firm Client Intake Process?
By John O'Haver
Law firms receive many communications daily; phone calls, email, web chats, and even SMS messages arrive non-stop. As your firm grows, you may receive multiple calls simultaneously, many from potential clients seeking advice or representation, leading to client intake. Read on to understand the steps of the client intake process and how Go Answer can assist your firm.
Law Firm Client Intake Process
Whenever a new potential client contacts a law firm, it begins the client intake process. Not every new potential client will become a client, but the process is the same until they either schedule an appointment or determine that the firm cannot help them. You can quickly accumulate a backlog with only one or a few receptionists.
1. Making Contact
When a new potential client contacts a firm, they are greeted and identified. The caller is asked to provide their name and contact information. The contact information should include the potential client’s address, phone number—mobile and landline if applicable—and email address. They should also indicate the type of communication they prefer.
This information is collected for each new potential client and used to create a contact file, which the firm stores even if a client–lawyer relationship does not arise.
Next, the potential client is asked a series of questions to help determine their needs. These questions should identify the issue or event the potential client would like to consult a lawyer about. The pre-screening questions help determine whether a firm can assist with the specific needs of the potential client.
3. Conflict Check
The next set of questions aims to determine whether any conflicts of interest could prevent the firm from being able to represent the client. Potential conflicts of interest vary depending on the type of firm. Examples of conflicts of interest are:
- The claim is against a current client of the firm or a client the firm has represented in the past.
- Another attorney has already handled the claim.
- The claim involves a family member of a lawyer or staff member.
Not all these factors will cause a conflict of interest. Minor conflicts can be waived, while more critical conflicts may violate the American Bar Association (ABA) model rules of professional conduct and can be considered malpractice. The conflict check can take some time, and it is advisable to end the call and call back once all lawyers have signed it off.
4. Schedule a Consultation
After it has been decided that there are no conflicts of interest, the potential client schedules a consultation. Once the consultation has been scheduled, the potential client should be informed that they will be emailed the onboarding paperwork.
5. Client Email
After the consultation, the client is sent an onboarding email. This consists of several documents and varies from one firm to the next. Forms sent to the client may include:
- Client Intake Questionnaires – This is a list of the questions the client answered in the pre-screening, and it provides written verification of their answers.
- Conflict Check Document – This document lists the same questions asked on the phone and serves as a written record of the client’s answers.
- Representation Agreement – This document discusses the lawyer-client relationship. It should state that the lawyer will be working on the client’s behalf and provide a basic rundown of the things the client can expect the lawyer to do for them.
- Fee Agreement – The fee agreement discusses the terms of payment for the lawyer’s services.
The email should also include written confirmation of the time and date of the consultation. It should list any next steps the client may need to complete before meeting with the lawyer.
The Purpose of the Client Intake Process
The client intake process aims to save lawyers time. Lawyers who spend a few minutes discussing a claim’s particulars are more prepared to answer client questions. The process also makes it unnecessary for lawyers to go over each line item and have the client sign documents, as these steps have already been completed.
Why Phone Scripts Can Be Helpful
A phone script ensures that all calls are handled consistently, and they can help you stay on task when clients have many questions that need to be answered. We encourage the use of scripts without being artificial or rushing. Listening is key because a potential client who feels unheard is unlikely to keep their consultation appointment.
What You Will Need for the Law Firm Client Intake Process
Beyond a phone script, all your firm will need is someone to answer the phone. A receptionist may be able to handle a few calls, but as the call volume increases, you will need more people. Another option is to outsource tasks.
Outsourcing to a 24/7 Team Ready to Answer for You
With just one receptionist answering the phone, things will quickly fall behind. By outsourcing your client intake volume, you can have support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Outsourcing allows you to have a team of intake specialists ready to answer calls at all times.
Go Answer Does Law Firm Client Intake Your Way
Save your time and resources by using ours. Go Answer is a contact center—not a call center. Today, law firms must keep up with phone traffic, website chat messages, SMS messages, and email communications. Whether you require a 24/7 service or after-hours assistance, we provide any customized combination of inbound and outbound communication in the type (or types) of communication your firm prefers.
At Go Answer, we offer a variety of options for services, most of which are fully customizable. We can help you write the script and handle your law firm’s client intake process entirely or in a specific capacity. Contact Go Answer today to start receiving support for your law firm.
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