The best legal marketing in the world would be meaningless without a sound process for client intake. Developing an effective strategy and properly staffing your client intake can be a challenge, but is an important aspect of making the most of the leads that come through the door for your firm.
A good intake process serves two essential functions: it determines who your firm can best serve and builds rapport with its potential clients — eventually leading to sales.
When a lead comes to you, it’s important to be able to determine whether that person has a case you believe is winnable. Additionally, the intake process should make your client feel confident about retaining your counsel.
Who’s responsible for intake?
Chris O’Brien, CEO of software provider Captorra, says that regardless of whether an attorney or an administrative staff member oversees client intake, this job should always be their top priority. In fact, he says that many firms have begun to hire sales professionals to fill this role.
Meanwhile, Martindale-Ngage President Mark Shepherd encourages small or otherwise understaffed law firms to explore the benefits of outsourcing their intake processes. One example would be installing alive chat feature on your firm’s website, which can allow visitors to learn more about your services before deciding to move forward.
“If you don’t have the time or cannot make it a priority, then you can hire a third-party service to help you out,” says Shepard. “It might actually save you money as opposed to hiring a completely new person for your firm.”
Choosing the right staff
Ensuring that your prospective clients feel confident in your firm’s ability to represent them is essential throughout the intake process. Any bumps or delays might cause a prospective client to doubt your ability to competently represent their interests, sending them searching for a different option.
Fostering this client-lawyer relationship as early as possible can help you and your clients maintain a clear line of communication as you continue your work with them. And you can best establish this relationship at the start of your interaction with one another.
Making a good first impression is vital, according to Reza Torkzadeh of Torkzadeh Law Firm, a personal injury practice in Southern California.
“You want somebody upbeat, somebody who’s empathetic and can relate — and who truly understands the philosophy of your firm,” Torkzadeh says. “If you can figure those things out during an intake, I think you should have a good shot of getting the client to retain you.”
It is also important to determine whether the client is a good fit for your firm’s areas of practice. If you are uncomfortable with the client or the case, it would make sense to decline working with that person.
With all that attorneys must handle daily, managing an effective client intake process can be challenging. However, when you allocate the proper resources to these efforts, most firms find that it’s well worth the investment.