Many firms don’t pay enough attention to their client intake process, leaving it to become an inefficient and costly exercise. Client intake forms can remedy this issue. These forms can streamline the client intake process in several ways.
WHAT IS A CLIENT INTAKE FORM?
The client intake form is completed by a prospective client either when they arrive at your firm, or before arriving. It can be completed digitally on your website and submitted directly to your firm, or prospective clients can print off copies, complete them in hard copy and bring them along to an initial consultation.
The client intake form is used to collect essential information about your prospective client, including:
- Personal information (names, including former, maiden, nicknames and aliases; address; contact details, etc.)
- Details of their legal issue, including details of all parties
- History of prior claims and legal matters
- Other firms they have worked with
You can create different client intake forms for the different areas of law you practise in. This is recommended if you want to get the most out of the client intake form and streamline as much as possible. After all, the information needed for a conveyancing matter is dramatically different to that needed for a litigation matter.
THE CLIENT INTAKE FORM AS A SCREENING TOOL
Your firm should not be taking on any client that comes through the door. Some may be unsuitable and working with them would be costlier than going without.
Foremost, client intake forms can help you quickly spot a conflict of interest, saving you the time you would have spent on an initial interview. You can just read the form and identify the conflict right away.
The client intake form can also help you identify potential red-flags and other points of interest, before you decide to act, including:
- The client has worked with numerous lawyers or firms before you on this matter. This could indicate someone who has unreasonable expectations of their lawyer or their case (or both), or someone who does not pay their lawyers. Whichever it is, this is not your ideal client.
- The matter is overly complex or difficult
- The matter is not within your area of practice, or requires the assistance of another legal specialist or other professional
- The client intake form is incomplete, which could indicate a client who is not serious about their matter, doesn’t possess all the information or doesn’t understand something.
The last one may indicate you will need to engage in client education.
A RISK MANAGEMENT TOOL
The client intake form is also a form of risk management. It is documentation of the information the client provides you, which can prove useful later if there are any issues with incomplete or inaccurate information.
A TIME-SAVING TOOL
When it comes to performing efficiently and profitably, saving time is key. Client intake forms streamline your process by quickly getting you the information required to onboard a client or decline a prospective client. Rather than conducting a long, initial interview with a client and asking them each question and taking their answers, the prospective client does all of that on the client intake form before they even see you.
A PAPER-SAVING TOOL
Many clients will be happy to complete their client intake form digitally, as it’s convenient for them too. This reduces the amount of paper printed, which is great for the environment! It also means you’ll need less storage space because the client and matter information is already digital.
AN IMPROVEMENT ON CLIENT SERVICE
The benefits of client intake forms are not just for you or your firm.
Your prospective clients will appreciate the ease and convenience of completing the form in the comfort of their own homes. They won’t have to come early to their interview to fill out a form, or sit through an interview and wait while you fill it out for them. It’s a time-saving tool for them too!
Every lawyer and law firm can benefit from streamlining their client intake process. Client intake forms are a simple, easy tool to set up and use, and do just that. Our new Service Portal includes an “instruction forms” tool to help you save on costly administrative time. Zaliet has created client instruction forms in common areas of law for you to use in the Service Portal.