The Do’s and Don’ts When Outsourcing Legal Intake

2023-10-30

Client intake is a critical part of operating a successful law firm. It’s also time-consuming and takes you and your staff away from serving other clients (billable hours). Of course, you can’t skip intake –– you’d never get new clients. You can outsource the process, however. 

The challenge is that outsourcing legal intake comes with a considerable list of do’s and don’ts. Failing to understand these can mean facing major issues, like making the wrong first impression and ending up with a poor conversion rate. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through the do’s and don’ts that you need to know to ensure you make a positive impression on potential clients and can focus on practicing law while our outsource partner handles the administrative tasks.

Do: Screen all potential leads

This is where many law firms drop the ball in the legal intake process. There’s little point in spending time interviewing a client who’s not a good fit for your practice. Thankfully, you can separate the leads that might be good clients from those your firm cannot help. 

Prescreening allows you to identify red and green flags about a potential client and their case and then make an informed decision. Of course, this process isn’t one that you need to handle personally. Outsourcing it to a virtual receptionist with experience in the legal industry is a great idea. A virtual receptionist can:

  • Check for any potential conflicts of interest.
  • Review the potential client’s information and fill in missing areas.
  • Verify prior attorney-client relationships.
  • Ask the client for information regarding their situation, goals, and how they envision the firm helping them.
  • Compile all relevant information into a file for the attorney to decide whether the potential client is a good fit.

Don’t: Outsource to a provider with no legal experience

Law firms must abide by specific rules when it comes to client information. They must also avoid missteps during the client onboarding process. Mistakes here could have legal repercussions, or they could tarnish your reputation. Outsourcing to a partner with no legal experience increases the chances they’ll make mistakes during the intake process, including:

  • Oversharing information about other clients the firm represents or cases the firm has handled.
  • Making promises or implying specific results in a client’s case.
  • Missing red flags during the intake process, such as unrealistic expectations or an unwillingness to cooperate.

The best defense here is to hire a partner with deep legal experience who understands the rules and requirements that apply to law firms and their relationship with clients and potential clients.

Do: Make sure you capture a potential client’s contact information

Each law firm will need to set its own legal intake process. It can be as in-depth or superficial as you like. Some attorneys might want a virtual receptionist to handle just the initial stages and then turn it over to an in-house legal assistant or paralegal. Others might prefer to have a partner to handle the entire intake process and turn over warm leads that are all but guaranteed to convert into new clients. 

No matter where your firm falls on that scale, collecting client contact information is essential. This should be one of the first things you do. You’ll need their name, phone number, email address, and physical address. Depending on the situation, you may need additional information, such as the name of the client who referred them to your firm.

All of this information should be captured as soon as possible. It should then be entered into your CRM for immediate access without the need to search through Excel sheets or call notes to help inform your decision-making process and for use in other efforts, like email marketing campaigns, client follow-up, and more.

Don’t: Require a physical signature

No one loves all the back-and-forth during the legal intake process. That includes sending all the legal documents pertaining to the situation to the client for their signature and then requiring them to send those back. It’s a lot of hassle and lost time. 

You can avoid all of that by skipping the requirement of a physical signature on contracts and other legal documents and offering e-signature capabilities. E-signed documents are just as legally binding as those signed with a physical signature, and these documents can be added to your CRM for instant access.

Do: Outsource appointment setting

Chances are good you’ve been there before: A potential client requests a consultation. You fire off an email offering appointment dates and times. They reply that none of those will work. You rack your brain for alternatives and send off another email with similar results. At this point, how much time have you wasted that could have been better spent? 

With the right outsourced legal intake partner, you can let them handle the appointment-setting process. That frees you to focus on tasks that keep the office lights on while your partner deals with your potential clients’ schedules. The right partner can even offer email and text appointment reminders, so you’re never stuck waiting for a consultation that doesn’t show, shows up hours late, or even on the wrong day.

The legal intake partner you need

At Smith.ai, we’ve worked with solo attorneys and legal firms of all sizes. We understand the unique challenges you face and the need to focus on billable hours without sacrificing lead intake. It is possible to accurately screen potential clients without spending all of your time handling administrative tasks.

Our range of services is designed to take the burden of legal intake off your shoulders so you can do what you do best while we prescreen and vet potential clients. From answering phone calls to appointment setting and reminders, CRM integration, after-hours answering, email & SMS follow-up, and in-depth lead screening, we deliver the solutions you need to run a successful law practice.

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai.

Tags:
Business Education
Law Firm
Written by Mike Graner
Mike Graner is the Marketing Manager at Smith.ai. He focuses specifically on engaging content, website updates, and exhibiting at events.

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