For a law firm, performing proper legal intake can be the difference between successful operation and damaging their practice. Legal intake procedures help firms select potential cases not just based on customer fit, but potential conflicts with ethics as well as other client relationships. While intake is a critical piece of running a firm, many attorneys are already so busy with their current caseload that they may prefer to rely on a law firm call center. Finding a quality intake specialist relieves a lot of pressure on operations, allowing staff to focus more on their current caseload and other billable tasks.
That said, not all legal answering services are created equal. Working with an answering service that truly understands intake practices is critical for the success of a practice—and the best legal answering service will know the importance of that task.
What Does “Legal Intake” Mean?
Legal intake is the process by which law firms select cases to work on. It involves screening contacts and leads for potential clients, using methods such as questionnaires or phone conversations. Intake is essentially the final phase of marketing for law firms, helping them determine which cases are a good mutual fit.
Why is this particularly significant in a law office? There are three reasons that intake is critical: improving the customer experience, building a good portfolio, and vetting customer-firm fit. It’s no coincidence that these three reasons also are why law practices hire answering services. Providers like Answering Service Care offload much of the customer-facing work of a law firm and can even provide support for internal administrative roles as well, such as relaying information to staff members. When a firm has the help of an answering service, legal staff can spend more time working on billable tasks and ultimately, performing their jobs at the highest level possible.
Good Intake Is Good Customer Service
For many leads, the intake process is likely the first time they’ve directly interacted with a law firm. As such, intake is often the firm’s chance to make a good first impression—through active listening, asking specific questions, expressing a high level of competence, and even seeking feedback afterwards. Whether the firm takes on that case or not, having a well-designed, high-touch intake increases their brand reputation, as well as the likelihood their leads will refer other clients to that firm in the future. In short, a strong intake process can create advocates who generate more leads, whether or not they’re part of the firm’s caseload.
Comprehensive Intake Builds a Better Portfolio
When working potential leads, a legal intake specialist also has to keep in mind what the firm’s current caseload is and who is available to work the case. Since attorneys already have busy, complex roles, the intake process should ideally be considering what work the firm can currently take on—or maybe even new opportunities where the firm can expand. The intake department, then, must be in close contact with the firm’s attorneys and leadership staff to understand the current mission and vision.
A Quality Intake Process Protects the Firm’s Reputation
Arguably the biggest value intake provides is a better brand image. A good intake process helps firms know what work they should (and shouldn’t) take on—not just for the sake of preferences, but legal purposes as well. While a firm may receive any number of leads on a daily basis, some cases may present ethical conflicts or the potential to damage a firm’s reputation. Intake is not just a way to secure business opportunities; it’s also a way for the firm to know which opportunities are not worth taking.
What Happens in the Intake Process?
Generally, intake requires the following components:
- Seeking out and acquiring new client leads
- Scheduling and performing consultations
- Researching and gathering client information
- Assessing if they’re a good fit for the firm
- Onboarding new clients and drafting agreements
- Collecting feedback from all potential clients
Each of these steps is important to the process, and the steps may not necessarily always happen in the same order. For example, a firm may have a consultation meeting with a client and then decide they need to gather more information before making a final decision.
Ultimately, however, intake will either end with the client signing a fee agreement, or the decision by one or both parties that the fit is not good. Regardless of whether the client signs on or not, though, intake should always collect feedback from the client to gauge their opinions on the firm’s process.
Answering services—namely, those equipped to handle legal intake services—can perform each step of the intake process. A quality answering service is not just a call center; they act as an extension of the business, answering questions and fielding requests with full competency. And providers like Answering Service Care have operators who are experts in not only customer service, but also legal practices and industry standards. Our operators work with the law firms to understand their caseloads and know which cases the firm wants—and does not want.
How Should a Lawyer Answer the Phone? With Answering Service Care
For law firms looking to improve their practice, look no further than Answering Service Care. As one of the top answering services for lawyers, we provide 24/7 coverage with a team of trained operators who know the ins and outs of customer service in the legal industry. Our agents are multilingual and familiar with industry-standard law practices, including intake, outbound marketing, confidentiality, case management, and more. We have decades of experience in law practice of all types, including:
- Personal Injury
- Real Estate
- And many more!
If you want to learn more about how we improve operations for law firms nationwide, reach out to us with questions or get started today with one of our monthly plans. We look forward to partnering with you!