How to Create a Robust Legal Intake Process

Investing in marketing can bring an abundance of leads to your law firm. But are you prepared to handle them? 

If your legal intake process isn’t properly optimized, you may lose many leads along the way. In turn, an inadequate intake process can drag down your entire marketing campaign’s ROI. 

In this article, we’ll review a few ways you can create a robust legal intake process that allows you to expand your caseload without sacrificing lead retention or client satisfaction.

What is the Legal Intake Process?

Simply put, the legal intake process starts when a lead reaches out for the first time and ends when they officially become a new client of your law firm. 

The stages involved in this process are as follows:

  • Attract potential leads
  • Capture their contact information
  • Pre-screen them to find out if they’re a good fit
  • Check for conflicts of interest
  • Schedule initial consultations with them
  • Collect key information about their cases
  • Draw up engagement agreements
  • Get them to sign these agreements
  • Onboard them as official clients

A robust lawyer marketing campaign can help you with step one. After that, it all comes down to the quality and efficiency of your legal intake process. 

The Pitfalls of a Poor Legal Intake Process

If you haven’t optimized your legal intake process yet, you’re doing your business a major disservice. A poor intake process can cause the following problems:

  • You leave money on the table – Your legal intake process encompasses the first interactions you have with new clients. You want to use this time to make a great impression. If your intake process is slow, inconvenient, or disorganized, it may plant doubt in prospective clients’ minds about your competence. In turn, they may switch over to a competitor. Even worse, they may also leave a negative review online. 
  • An inefficient firm – Your legal intake process also impacts the efficiency of your internal law firm operations. If your intake infrastructure is outdated, it’s most likely impeding your teams’ productivity.

Furthermore, a poor intake process may allow data entry errors and miscommunication to go unnoticed. While some mistakes may be harmless, others could land you in a malpractice suit. For example, a disorganized intake process could cause your firm to share private documents with the wrong contact or fail to assess an existing conflict. 

How to Optimize Your Legal Intake Process

So how can you avoid these pitfalls? With the following optimization, your legal intake process can be transformed into a well-oiled machine. 

Just follow these steps:

#1 Respond To New Leads ASAP with Automation

After a lead has reached out to you, whether they filled out a contact form or left you a voice message, you need to get back to them as quickly as possible. This is the most time-sensitive step in the legal intake process. This response should have an automated aspect to it with an instant email or text followed up by a phone call as soon as possible.

That’s because nearly 90% of law firm leads go with the first law firm that gets back to them.1 By responding swiftly, you can secure more marketing leads and turn them into revenue-producing clients. 

According to research on legal lead inquiry response times, 70% of the top law firms respond within an hour.2 Fifty-nine percent respond within 30 minutes. If you want to earn your spot as a top law firm, you need to reply like one. 

A fast response time that has an automated aspect to it can help you swoop up clients before your competitors do.

#2 Pre-Screen Potential Clients With Care

Your marketing efforts may bring a lot of new leads your way, but not all of them will be suitable for your firm. Some leads’ cases may be out of your area of expertise or a mismatch for the size of your firm. Other leads may present conflicts of interest. 

You don’t want to spend a longer time or resources on a lead if a conflict of interest will take them out of the running. An optimized legal intake system will weed out unfit leads early on in the process. 

Your pre-screening process should take place before you schedule a consultation meeting. You can qualify a lead by sending them a pre-consultation form or giving them a call. After learning a bit more about their case, you can determine whether they’re a great fit or better-suited for another firm. 

#3 Be Empathetic and Attentive

Most lawyers pride themselves on their professionalism and knowledge. However, it’s also essential to lead with empathy too. 

After all, most people seeking legal services are going through some of the most challenging times in their lives, whether they’re facing bankruptcy, divorce, a terrible injury, or a dying loved one. Being empathetic to these circumstances can help you forge a personal connection with potential clients.

Empathizing with your clients will also help you provide them with superior legal service. If a new client has never worked with a lawyer before, they may have additional questions about the legal process. Understanding where they’re coming from and assisting them accordingly will enhance your client satisfaction. As a bonus, happy clients are more likely to refer you to friends and family in the future.

#4 Update Your Intake Technology

Back in the day, most law firms relied on telephones, fax machines, and file cabinets to track new leads. As with all paper systems, these tools are prone to errors and inefficiencies. 

In 2021, there’s no excuse for maintaining such outdated legal intake software. Instead, you should invest in the following technologies:

  • Online intake forms – Rather than requesting information via pen and paper, give new leads the ability to fill out secure online intake forms. Clients love the convenience of online forms, since they can be filled out from the comfort of their own homes. Better yet, online intake forms eliminate the need for manual data entry, which is a notoriously error-prone process.
  • E-signatures – Getting clients to sign contracts quickly is a lot easier when you use e-signatures. Signing documents digitally is also more convenient for your clients, since many of them may not have reliable access to a printer, fax machine, or scanner.
  • Self-scheduling software – Both you and your clients have busy schedules. In turn, getting a consultation meeting on the books can involve a lot of back and forth. Online self-scheduling streamlines this process significantly. It allows clients to schedule appointment slots that work for them at their own convenience.
  • Automated reminders – Automated text and email reminders for consultation meetings can help prospective clients make their appointments. With automation in law firms, you will enjoy increased efficiency that comes with fewer late and missed appointments.

While updating your intake technology requires an initial investment (and may present a temporary learning curve for some legal team members), it will pay dividends. Greater office efficiency means more revenue for your firm. 

#5 Use a CRM to Track New Leads

Another helpful tool is contact relationship management (CRM) software. A CRM allows you a centralized place to manage and record all of your interactions with leads. 

For example, legal CRMs allow you to:

  • Receive and store online intake form data
  • Automatically fill in leads’ contact information
  • Qualify leads based on their form responses
  • Cross-check for conflicts of interest
  • Set up workflow automation for follow-up messages
  • Update leads’ statuses (“newly added,” “needs follow-up,” “consultation scheduled,” etc.)

When you can easily identify where a lead is within your intake process, you can reach out to them at the right times. Having all of their client data in one place will also keep your team much more organized. 

#6 Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Even if you had a successful consultation with a prospective client, it’s important to follow up with them if they don’t get back to you in a timely manner. Many law firms let potential clients slip through the cracks by neglecting this step.

Fortunately, a robust CRM makes following up an easy process with automated follow-up reminders. 

#7 Create Pre-Prepared Text and Email Messages

With a growing caseload, you don’t have the time to write every text or email message from scratch.

By preparing a few formatted messages, you can stay on top of your client communication and automate the following:

  • Lead inquiry responses
  • Consultation reminders
  • Follow-up letters
  • Retainer responses

Whether you have 10 leads or 10,000 leads, you’ll have no problem getting back to them on time when you use automated messages. 

#8 Get All Intake Specialists on the Same Page

After ironing out your legal intake process, getting all of your legal team members on the same page is important. 

Everyone involved in the intake process should follow the same protocols, whether they’re requesting essential case information or following up with a lead who hasn’t signed their contract yet.

By training your legal intake specialist on your law firm’s official intake best practices, all of your clients will enjoy the same quality of service.

Convert It: Legal Marketing and Intake Made Easy

Growing a law practice is a complex undertaking. Fortunately, an updated intake process can simplify it significantly.

Need help with your legal intake process? Here at Convert It, we’re experts at marketing and legal intake solutions. We offer several game-changing website and conversion tools, such as legal CRM, call answering, and more. The best part: it’s all put together for you in one cohesive, easy to use platform.

Find out how we can help you transform more leads into clients today.

 

Sources:

  1. Legal Talk Network. FindLaw 2015 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey.  https://legaltalknetwork.com/podcasts/legal-toolkit/2016/07/findlaw-2015-u-s-consumer-legal-needs-survey/
  2. Yahoo! Money. Hennessey Digital Releases Online Lead Form & Lawyer Response Time Study, Shares New Insights on Legal Marketing Landscape. https://money.yahoo.com/hennessey-digital-releases-online-lead-140000472.html

How to Automate Your Law Firm’s Followups

For law firms, success depends on retaining current clients while fostering a steady pipeline of new leads. But with so much competition in the legal marketplace, you need to stand out to convert new clients. 

When it comes to acquiring new clients, a lot of legal firms fail to follow up with prospects that don’t immediately call back or sign up with your firm. Usually, what this means is that they hired your competitor instead. Since lead nurturing is a non-billable task, following up on warm leads often gets put on the back burner, especially for a small or solo legal practice with limited time and resources. 

This is where automation can bridge the gap and take a load off your shoulders. 

Automating Followups 

So, how to automate your law firm’s followups? Lead nurturing involves a continuous engagement with prospects after the first touchpoint. Think text messages and emails automatically sent to your leads every few days.

Few prospects sign up for services after the first call or meeting. Most people near the top of the funnel in their client journey require continued engagement and convincing. That might mean several calls, emails, or texts before a conversion occurs. 

Naturally, you may feel uneasy about “pestering” someone if you don’t receive clear indicators that the lead is interested. But, for many, it takes a persistent pursuit to win them over and convince them that you’re interested and a good fit. We’ve found that it usually takes 7 touchpoints before a typical prospect retains an attorney.

That said, the follow-up emails and texts don’t have to be “salesy”.

In fact, they shouldn’t be. 

Instead, they should be educational and are related to the client’s specific needs. For instance, if you have a lead that is looking for a personal injury lawyer, you may set up an automated email campaign that looks like:

  • Day 1 – An email introduction to the firm, with an emphasis on experience with personal injury
  • Day 3 – Email with tips on personal injury laws in the state
  • Day 6 – Email about success stories on personal injury cases 
  • Day 10 – Email about how a lawyer can help with their specific case
  • Periodic – Bimonthly email with a newsletter or update 

By automating this process, you can set and forget. You load up the emails, and then your automated system goes to work. The lead receives a string of personal touches, and you can focus your attention elsewhere.

Automated Welcome Emails

Similarly, you can set up a single email or a chain of corresponding emails that get triggered when a person signs up for your newsletter or provides their contact info in a form. This allows you to acknowledge and welcome them and then introduce your firm and services. By including your contact info—phone number, email address, social media handles, etc.—you can tacitly encourage a prospect to follow up with you, which could lead to further actions. 

Automating Followups with Site Visitors 

This principle doesn’t just apply to clients you’ve established contact with. It can also be utilized for people who visit your site—whether through a landing page or a Google search. 

Chances are, your SEO or landing page campaigns won’t convert every single potential client who comes to your site. But there are other automated ways to keep those leads warm. 

For instance, targeted banner ads are effective conversion tools. 

Thanks to behavioral targeting techniques, you can re-target site visitors or people who search for your practice area with ads. With this strategy, you can actually begin targeting your potential client before they have even embarked on a Google search for a lawyer. 

Let’s say you’re a DUI lawyer. If a person is looking up articles about DUI laws in California, you can place automated ads on the website they’re reading. Or, you can perform in-app targeting on mobile devices. There are a variety of automated ad types you can utilize, including: 

  • Image-based ads
  • Lightbox ads
  • Interactive ads
  • Responsive ads
  • Video ads 

PPC Automation in Law Firms

One of the most powerful automated tools at a legal firm’s disposal is pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Also known as the paid ad, PPC campaigns make it so that your website appears at the top and bottom of search results pages.

How PPC works is simple. Every time a prospect clicks on your page, you pay a fee. In exchange, your site is boosted to the top of search results, which is the most valuable place to be. 

According to Search Engine Journal, the first five results on Google receive the lion’s share of click-throughs:1 

  • Ranking 1 – 28.5% 
  • Ranking 2 – 15.7%
  • Ranking 3 – 11%
  • Ranking 4 – 8%
  • Ranking 5 – 7.2%

There are several ways you can utilize automation to improve a PPC campaign, including: 

  • Adjusting bids in real-time – Keyword pricing works on a supply and demand basis. The higher demand there is for a particular keyword, the higher the price goes. With the right system, you can set workflows that automatically change the bid. This smart bidding uses machine learning and contextual signals to optimize conversions and conversion value for each auction.  
  • Keyword scrubbing – Instead of relying on your gut, you can make more informed decisions about what to bid on and how much you’re willing to pay. Scrubbed keyword lists let you put your finger on the pulse, seeing what users are searching for and clicking on and what keywords or phrases bidders value the most. 
  • Audience targeting – You can narrow down the list of who your ad targets by setting boundaries. Whether it’s by demographics, device type, time of the day, or age group, this allows you to reach the prospect that’s most likely to convert. Over time, you can leverage your data and further optimize your targeting.  
  • Geographic targeting – Similarly, you can set auto targets on people searching within a specific geolocation. For lawyers, this is a powerful tool since most of clients prefer to be within your immediate vicinity.   
  • Custom alerts – You can also set automated alerts should conditions change, whether it’s with pricing or keyword popularity. This allows you to respond to a shifting situation immediately rather than be caught flat-footed. 

Other Workflow Automation for Lawyers 

There are dozens of other ways that a law firm can automate processes that take up time and energy. They include: 

  • Client intake – Your first direct touchpoint typically involves gathering important client information, such as: 
  • Client name and contact information
  • Details of their case 
  • Billing information

A legal intake can be a time-consuming process—one that’s prone to manual data entry errors. You can automate the process by letting clients provide critical information online and populate that data in your case management system. Similarly, you can create custom forms that add or remove relevant entry fields depending on the client’s case.   

  • Anonymous users – If a visitor spends a set amount of time on the site, you can specify triggers like lead magnets, such as signing up for a newsletter or an ebook in exchange for their contact info. This not only helps them stay more engaged with the page, but it also gives you a chance to gather more details about who they are as a prospect. 
  • Automated emails – Another way to follow up with existing clients is to set up automated emails for a variety of tasks, including:
  • Requesting updates 
  • Answering frequently asked questions for new clients
  • Asking clients to provide a positive review 
  • Sending client surveys 
  • Providing case studies and evaluations
  • Updating clients on firm success stories   

By doing this, you can prevent sending multiple emails on the same subject or answering a similar question from a new client. This saves your team time while ensuring that clients remain engaged.

There are several benefits of automating workflows. To name a few, automation removes human error, creates a better client experience, improves communication, reduces overhead costs, and allows you to stay competitive on a smaller budget. Best of all, it will enable the legal team to focus their time on revenue-producing activities that help grow your business. As Forbes notes:2

“​​For many lawyers, particularly associates, this means they are likely taking on more administrative tasks, such as document filing and time entry. Automation could help law firms to continue to function, without inundating their lawyers with mindless administrative or mundane tasks.”

In addition to creating business efficiencies within your firm, marketing automation also improves attorney satisfaction. A critical attribute for a healthy firm. 

Convert It—Automating Your Legal Practice 

Technology has now become an essential component of the way businesses function. For lawyers, automating anything from followups to PPC campaigns helps you better reach and serve your clients. 

Need help with that? 

At Convert It, our powerful platform has everything your firm needs to generate new clients. This includes call and lead tracking, behavioral targeting, captivating ads, conversion websites, and call and lead tracking. We leverage documentation and marketing automation to help you get results. 

But don’t take our word for it, here are some of the things our clients say about us…

“Convert IT Marketing has been very consistent over time, I really appreciate their level of service and the quality of the phone calls and leads that I have received as a result of their marketing platform.”

– Robert E. Attorney at Law

 

“The calls and leads that I have received have been right on target and I have been able to retain a number of clients from them in just the first 2 months since coming aboard with you guys.”

-Tony M. Attorney at Law

 

“My experience with Convert IT Marketing has been well worth the investment. The results have been very consistent over time and the customer service is excellent.”

-Terry T. Attorney at Law

Sources:

  1. Search Engine Journal. Over 25% of People Click the First Google Search Result.  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-first-page-clicks/374516/#close
  2. Forbes. How Automation Can Help Professional Services Employees Work Less And Achieve More. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2020/07/21/how-automation-can-help-professional-services-employees-work-less-and-achieve-more/?sh=7666073974bd