Running a small law firm involves a unique set of challenges. While your small firm can offer flexibility and personalized services, it’s essential to focus on the areas integral to building your client base, like the legal intake process. 

Whether you own an established practice or are just starting your firm, an efficient intake process is vital for boosting conversions and keeping your practice running on all cylinders. Here is what you need to know about the client intake process and some legal intake solutions for small law firms. 

The Legal Intake Process — the Basics

Client intake is the comprehensive process of attracting and signing new clients, beginning with their first interaction with your firm and continuing until they sign an engagement letter. In many cases, legal intake also includes any onboarding your firm does once a client signs on to receive legal services. 

The legal intake process can be divided into several stages:

  • Initial contact: Potential clients contact your firm via phone, email, or an online form and provide their name and contact information. 
  • Pre-screening: You collect enough information to determine if the client will be a possible fit for your firm’s services. 
  • Scheduling: You schedule an initial consultation with the client to discuss their legal matter.
  • Detailed intake: You get as much information as possible from the client about their situation so you can explain their legal options and outline a strategy. 
  • Engagement letter: Your new client signs a letter engaging your firm for legal services. 
  • Client onboarding: You can set expectations by giving your new clients information about their case steps, communication, and billing. 

Why Your Firm’s Legal Intake Process Matters

Many attorneys believe that their firm already employs an effective intake process, but the truth is that many firms are losing potential clients due to inefficiencies in this area. Today’s legal consumers aren’t content to wait days or longer for a response from a law firm. 

According to the Martindale-Avvo report, “Understanding the Legal Consumer 2023,” most legal consumers pointed to responsiveness as one of the most important factors when hiring a law firm. Specifically, 80% of consumers will contact another attorney if they don’t hear back in 48 hours. 

Having an effective legal intake process shows a potential client you care about their issue. It’s also a demonstration of basic competence. If your firm can’t or won’t handle this basic task, how can it be trusted to resolve a complex legal matter?

6 Solutions for Legal Intake for Small Law Firms

The legal business is highly competitive. Your small law firm needs an established intake process to generate new business. Here are six legal intake solutions for small law firms you can implement to build your client base. 

1. Answer the Phone and Respond to Emails

It sounds basic, but many potential clients will call or email as their first contact. Someone dealing with a divorce, facing criminal charges, or struggling with some other legal issue will be grateful if you respond as quickly as possible. 

2. Use Shareable Online Forms

Using forms might seem a bit old school, but shareable online intake forms that everyone can access and use can be helpful in some situations. This approach has merit, provided the data gets transferred into a client management system properly. 

3. Consider a Live Chat Service

Consumers have become accustomed to seeing chatbots on many websites. However, a recent Forbes survey revealed that 86% of people prefer to chat with a real person when contacting a business. If your firm would like to provide this service for legal intake, Ngage Live Chat provides chat operators 24/7, a service that can double website conversions. 

4. Create an Intake Checklist

Things can fall through the cracks easily if you’re a small firm or a solo practitioner. You can streamline your client intake process by creating a checklist with contact details, referral source, case information, and more. 

5. Track Your Leads and Follow-Up

Not everyone will sign up for legal services immediately. You’ll want to set a follow-up schedule with reminders so you can contact each lead via phone or email and deliver the assistance required. 

6. Automate Your Legal Intake

It’s understandable if you get so busy that some of these solutions become challenging. In this instance, you can automate your firm’s lead intake process with an all-in-one solution like Captorra that integrates with your existing software and ensures you never miss an opportunity to connect with a potential client. 

Get Access to the Best Legal Intake Tools

Ready to take your law firm’s client intake to the next level? Get in touch with Martindale-Avvo today for the latest in tools, technology, and solutions that support attorneys and small law firms. 

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