Lawcadia shared with LPI why client intake is an essential aspect of legal practice and streamlining the process using a client intake form can help to accelerate law firm growth, whilst improving the client’s experience.
In this article we discuss ways that law firms can develop an effective client intake process for its corporate clients and highlight 5 benefits for the law firm and their clients.
What are client intake forms?
Client intake forms are web-based forms that clients complete to instruct or engage a law firm for a new matter. These forms can vary in their nature and functionality depending upon the technology features that support them and the strategic intent behind them. Some examples of technology features that can support client intake forms include automation, customisation, e-signatures, task management, project and budget management, file sharing, and document automation.
Where are they used?
Client intake forms can be made available in several ways depending upon a law firm’s client base. For instance, client intake forms for law firms that predominately deal with the general public or small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are commonly offered as a generic and simple digital form accessible through the law firm’s website. However, client intake forms for law firms that predominately deal with a corporate client base are usually quite customised with a more sophisticated deployment method. For these law firms, the intake process can contribute greatly to business development, growth, and client satisfaction. In fact, this was reflected in the Future Ready Lawyer 2021 report by Wolters Kluwer in which 91% of corporate legal departments reported they currently ask or are planning to ask law firms to describe the technology or processes they use to be more efficient before deciding to engage them for a matter. As such, greater consideration must be taken to how clients can provide instructions, intake forms are deployed, and subsequently, how the clients are engaged, onboarded, and retained.
Client intake forms in the context of the corporate client
Law firms with a corporate client base should consider the use and deployment of client intake forms for two distinctive types of client buyer behaviour (or use cases). These are:
- Clients where the law firm is the key legal services provider and is the recipient of most of their work.
This client would value and benefit from digital client intake forms and client-focused technology that will assist them to save time and be more efficient. As well as utilising customised client intake forms, this client innovation offering could involve workflow automation, file sharing, document automation, project and budget management, and other client collaboration tools.
- Clients who engage the law firm for high volume, frequent work.
This client would value and benefit from digital technology that improves accuracy, efficiency, saves time and could potentially result in lower costs for the client and higher profits for the law firm. This could involve workflow automation technology, file sharing, and project management tools.
5 benefits for using client intake forms with corporate clients
1. Enhance client relationships
Offering innovation and technology that is practical and accessible can strengthen law firm and client relationships by delivering a superior and streamlined service supported by technology, that enhances the client’s experience and exceeds their expectations.
2. Improve efficiencies for the client and law firm
Digital processes that improve the accuracy of instructions, automatically streamline and triage work to the right people can be the basis for enormous efficiency gains. Consider how this can assist with managing alternative fee arrangements, more accurate fee estimates, the effective utilisation of document automation, as topical examples.
3. Strategically integrate the law firm into the client’s processes
Skilfully tailored intake forms that meet the unique and specific requirements of the clients will increase satisfaction, familiarity, and loyalty by increasing synergy and coordination between the client and the law firm as a whole.
4. Optimise client reporting
Combine your client intake forms with business intelligence reporting capability to easily present tailored reports to your clients. Capture and report on key metrics that are relevant and unique to each client, such as the frequency and nature of the work that is instructed, the related costs, fee structures, time to completion, and many more.
5. Increased agility and continuous improvement
Customised digital client intake forms for a client means that law firms can easily share information and data with those clients, as well as evaluate the insights and respond and adapt in an agile way. Consequently, when a client requests a change or a legal issue emerges, workflows can be modified or added to quickly and easily.
In summary, client intake forms for corporate clients offer benefits for both the client, and the law firm. From the client’s perspective, they can experience a superior and efficient law firm experience through customised forms, automation, and BI reporting. From the law firm’s perspective, client intake forms can enhance their client relationships by exceeding their expectations and facilitating agile workflows that increase adaptability and continuously improve client service delivery.