How to Improve Your Firm’s Intake Process

Building strong relationships with your clients is the single most important thing you can do to ensure the success of your law firm. Your firm’s intake process is a critical step in creating those connections. If the process isn’t properly structured or suffers from bottlenecks and hurdles, it can be impossible to create the sense of trust and rapport necessary to convince clients that they should do business with you. 

Worried that your firm’s intake process isn’t quite where it needs to be? There’s good news. Changing it for the better isn’t as hard as you might think. We’ve laid the foundation for you below.

Use standard processes with all clients

It’s all too easy to take one path with one particular client and another with a different one. This can grow out of the different journeys each lead takes to find your law firm. However, it can lead to disconnection once you reach the intake process. To combat that, use uniform processes and adopt a standardized policy. This will offer some important benefits, including the following:

  • Staff will know how to handle phone calls, emails, and other communications — every time
  • You’ll avoid confusion when it comes to scheduling consultations
  • You’ll streamline the process of accessing and completing client intake forms
  • You’ll have complete, comprehensive data on each new lead
  • You’ll be able to manage in-person visits better

Don’t neglect the prescreening process

It’s tempting to assume that any lead who’s communicated with you could convert into a client. Unfortunately, that’s not remotely true. According to an interview with Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, published in Legal Management magazine, the average attorney converts just five to 15% of every 100 leads into paying clients. It’s also important to realize that some clients are simply not a good fit for your available time, practice area, cost structure, or team. 

Your prescreening process helps prevent a major waste of your most valuable resources. The pre-screening process helps you winnow those leads to ensure that you’re spending time with those who are most likely to convert and are well-suited to what your firm can offer. 

A few areas to focus on during the prescreening process is asking the right questions, every time, to leads. That way, you can collect data that will help you decide if it’s a good fit. Also, be sure to use a CRM for information gathering. That keeps all of your data intact and easily accessible. 

Skip autopilot during the initial consult

Patients trust doctors who have a “good bedside manner.” The same is true when it comes to attorneys. Active listening is the key to making potential clients feel seen and heard during trying times and when they’re experiencing heightened emotions. 

Not sure how active listening works? Pay attention to what the potential client is saying and listen to understand. Ask clarifying questions that encourage the person to expand and provide additional details. Summarize key points to show that you are being attentive and acknowledge how they’re feeling. 

Be transparent about costs

If there’s one thing that will destroy trust within the client/attorney relationship, it’s a lack of transparency surrounding fees and billing. There’s nothing quite as demoralizing as thinking you’re finally making headway in a critical area of your life only to be hit with an unexpectedly high bill. 

Take time during the initial consultation to discuss fees and explain your billing process. Discuss any options you might provide, like payments over time. This will help set realistic expectations and ensure that clients know exactly what to expect when it’s time to pay.

Separate clients into appropriate stages

No two clients follow exactly the same path, but most move through similar stages. Understanding where each client is within their overall journey will help ensure that you can communicate with them effectively and build trust. 

You can create any classification system you might want based on your experience building relationships, but some of the most commonly used categories include not yet contacted, needs follow-up, intake form pending, interview conducted, awaiting payment, and unresponsive. You can use these classifications to create a pipeline that moves clients from one point to the next and ensures that you have complete visibility into that movement at all times.

Automate the intake process

The intake process might be crucial, but it’s also time-intensive. Automating it by working with a legal answering service can offer important advantages. 

  • First, you and your team can reclaim the time that you would otherwise spend communicating with leads, many of whom may not be the right fit for your practice or who will never convert in the first place. 
  • Second, it allows you to focus on billable work that goes to support the firm while ensuring that a seasoned expert is taking care of your intake process. 
  • Third, you reduce both the amount of data entry your team must perform and the chance of errors in client information. 
  • Fourth, you ensure that crucial information is gathered from every lead and entered into your CRM, which is essential for everything that comes later. 

The lead screening and intake partner your firm needs

Creating an effective, streamlined intake process is essential if you want to build strong relationships with clients. However, you and your team have limited time and it’s important that you spend as much of that as possible on billable tasks. Working with a legal answering service like ensures that you can do that while guaranteeing that your intake process is smooth, accurate, and builds trust. 

Our virtual receptionists have worked with law firms of all sizes and across all practice areas. Lead screening and intake is just one of the ways we can help your firm grow. We’re also happy to offer additional solutions, like 24/7 answering, appointment setting, payment collection, and more so that you can do what you do best while ensuring that administrative tasks are handled by experts.

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to

Lead Screening
Law Firm
Written by Tom Armitage

Tom Armitage is a Senior Marketing Manager with

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