Whether you are part of a large law practice or a solo practitioner, growing your law clientele means undertaking a vigorous client intake process. Client intake is an essential, but time-consuming, function of any law practice.
Therefore, lawyers should seek ways to scale client intake and, by extension, their business. We suggest the following four steps when scaling up.
1. Invest in the Right Technology
Today’s business watchword is “automate.” According to the 2019 Legal Trends Report, lawyers spend less than three hours a day doing revenue-generating tasks. This means the rest of the time you spend in your office carrying out repetitive administrative tasks that would be better managed with automated tools. If every business outsourced these tasks, the savings on a global basis would reach around $5 trillion a year. In the U.S. alone, the number is closer to $2.87 trillion.
The first important step is to take time to identify the repeatable processes in your firm’s workday. Then, decide whether you want to develop your own software or access existing technology that provides tools for managing routine law firm tasks. The key to successfully using the following tools is going paperless in favor of mobile devices, such as iPads and tablets, in the sitting area.
Many technology products already exist in the marketplace for law firms that want to automate their client intake process.
- CRM or Case Management Software (CMS). This software helps you track the status of potential clients in real-time. It is used to store, monitor and analyze lead information. It can also help you target your marketing efforts by tracking where your leads originate.
- Automated Intake Forms. This tool can help you create forms that are embedded directly onto your website. These automated forms capture prospective client information, and they often, depending on the software, integrate with a CRM or CMS system.
- Encryption Software. This software uses end-to-end encryption to securely capture all-important prospective client information and documentation.
Naturally, however, law firms will face costs in upgrading to new technology. First, you will incur the cost to invest in the new software. Then, there is the lost time you will face when your staff has to learn how to use the new technology.
2. Hire One or More Intake Specialists
To help alleviate time spent on client intake, your firm may want to consider hiring one or more client intake specialists. Client intake specialists can help grow your business by responding to, capturing, and converting prospective clients. In-house intake specialists also help:
- Launch newly signed clients into the firm’s workflow
- Provide a quality experience for prospective clients
- Manage client expectations
To be candid, even if you include an intake specialist on your staff, your firm will still have to buy new software and front the cost of hiring and training. Also keep in mind that in-house specialists are unable to answer calls that come in after-hours if they are not staffed around the clock, and they may also be unable to respond to multiple lead calls simultaneously if there aren’t enough specialists. Both of these bandwidth issues are likely to result in leads lost to your competitors.
3. Join Forces with Another Firm
If your firm focuses on mass torts or class actions with the prospect of massive new client intake, you may find it helpful to collaborate with a law firm facing similar client pressures. Before embarking on this route, however, give due consideration to the potential fallout. For example, it is prudent to ask yourself:
- Are both firms economically sound?
- Are the firm cultures well-suited to working together?
- How will the collaboration affect your current clients? After all, you do not want current clients to defect to your competitor because they are unhappy with the new collaboration.
- Does your firm have an internal concern that you should sort out instead? Look inward first. You may be able to solve the problem without involving another firm.
4. Outsource Client Intake
Outsourcing client intake to a professionally trained staff of specialists can save you time and money. Outsourcing client intake means your staff will no longer have to fill out forms or screen potential leads that do not qualify as clients. Furthermore, outsourcing to a legal call center or lawyer answering service helps your firm scale client intake by identifying and signing qualified leads.
Legal intake call centers are available to take calls from leads after normal business hours or on holidays and weekends when your office is closed. They are equipped to complete the tasks that allow you to concentrate on core business responsibilities.
The professional intake specialists in a call center can also help you form a deeper connection to signed clients who have successfully completed the initial screening process.
Here are a few interesting statistics to consider:
- 59% of businesses see outsourcing as an effective way to cut administrative costs
- Law firms can save from 30% to 80% by outsourcing law processes
- Outsourcing can increase productivity by 10% up to 100%, and 78% of general companies that outsource feel good about it
After all, you formed your law firm to practice law. Recognize that administrative tasks and client intake are essential to propelling your business forward. At the same time, you do not necessarily have to take on that role.
Outsourcing intake not only gains your firm more leads, it gains your firm more qualified leads who obtain signed retainers before you even talk to them. In other words, outsourcing helps your firm scale client intake and grow your business, allowing you more time and freedom to do the work that makes you content while leaving client intake up to the experts.