Improving your client intake process can affect your client’s experience – and your firm’s. It’s easy to get focused on bringing in more clients, but it’s important that your new clients are the right fit for your firm.
What should you be looking for?
Don’t get so focused on quantity that you overlook quality of fit. The goal of the intake process is to gather information that will help you determine if your firm can (or should) represent a client.
Do your firm’s practice areas and experience fit the client’s needs? If not, take the opportunity to make a referral to another firm. Not only will that other firm hopefully return the favor in the future – with a client who is a better fit – but you’ll save the client and yourself frustrations.
You don’t want to damage your reputation with an unhappy client, nor do you want to expend unnecessary amounts of mental and emotional energy forcing a situation that isn’t the right fit. Use the intake form to assess the situation and set your firm up for success.
Check for Conflict
In order to represent a client to the best of your ability – and avoid any ethics violations or malpractice suits – you need to check for a conflict of interest. Check for connections between your prospective client and previous clients, including non-matter related relationships, and your own connections.
Refer to American Bar Association guidelines on conflicts of interest – yes, there are a lot – and don’t rely solely on your noggin. Instead, use a practice management system that lets you run checks with a legal-specific, centralized database. This can help you catch connections you might not remember – and help you sleep better at night.
A streamlined intake process isn’t just an exercise in gathering information. Use it to check that you can and should represent a prospective client. Pay attention to whether or not a client is a good fit for your firm and practice areas – and make sure there isn’t a conflict of interest.
These key checks will support greater overall satisfaction – and with time, more satisfied clients can lead to more recommendations, intake, and an even better reputation.
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