Bringing Ease into Intake with Smokeball Legal Software
July 21, 2023
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As the world modernizes, the legal industry is no exception, and law firms that take advantage of new legal technologies are generally able to gain a competitive advantage within their practice area. This happens because modern legal software enables law firms to do more, more easily – with less. When work is no longer a struggle, your legal team can experience the joy of practicing law.
In other words, legal software helps firms operate more efficiently so they can serve more clients, handle more matters, and increase revenues.
One of the key areas where legal technology makes an enormous impact is during the client intake process, which historically has caused headaches for many firms – and their new clients.
With modern legal client intake software like Smokeball, the client intake process becomes smoother, simpler, and faster for both firm and client, leading to improved outcomes and happier experiences. This is true not just during the initial intake period, but also after potential clients sign retainers and you get to work on their matters.
In this post, we’ll discuss:
- How legal client intake software helps law firms optimize the client intake process
- What sets Smokeball apart from other client intake software providers
- How Smokeball specifically sets legal practices up for success during different stages of intake
Optimizing Client Intake with Legal Software
What “Optimization” Means
Regarding the way that legal practices operate, “optimization” refers to the practice of streamlining and improving every stage of the legal process – whatever that looks like for a specific firm and its clients. But streamlining work can actually help you optimize for work life enjoyment, too.
Imagine everything that your law firm does on a daily basis, as well as all of the interactions you have with clients and prospects, then think about how things would be different even if you made just minor enhancements to each of those activities and interactions.
That’s what optimization is all about.
How Legal Client Intake Software Makes a Difference
Modern legal software is a powerful force for optimization because it enables law firms to focus on improving each individual aspect of what they do on a daily basis – then to combine those improvements into seamless workflows that generate better overall results for law firms and clients.
Some of the key areas that legal client intake software in particular helps to improve are:
- Making your law firm more attractive to potential new clients
- Enabling potential clients to have quick and painless initial interactions with your firm
- Saving the legal staff’s time during intake and afterward
- Reducing or eliminating the manual data entry that firm staff historically have had to do
- Automating the sharing, signing, and completion of legal documents and forms
- Facilitating better, clearer, and more efficient client communications
- Getting prospects and new clients into your firm faster than ever
- Improving the way your firm organizes and accesses client files and matters
- Creating a seamless transition from initial intake to working on a matter
- Providing insight into your law firm’s intake statistics on a month-to-month basis
What Sets Smokeball Apart from Other Legal Software
Every Law Firm is Unique...
The challenge historically faced by many legal software providers is that every legal practice is unique – from its practice area to the size of its staff, the clients it serves, and the place where it operates. So, while legal software has provided many benefits for law firms, it also has left a lot to be desired when it comes to meeting a practice’s specific needs.
The only way to solve this issue is for a legal software platform to adapt depending on the needs, structure, workflows, and budgets of each specific firm.
Very few legal software providers have been able to do this so far – but Smokeball has.
Software Solutions for Law Firms Across Practice Areas
One of the key reasons why Smokeball works for so many different law firms is that it contains specific features and customizations for firms in different practice areas. This level of detail is rare within the legal software industry.
For instance, many legal software providers offer some type of online client intake forms that firms can share with prospects and clients – but the majority of these forms are generic and do not contain the right questions to gather the nuanced information that firms in specific practice areas require.
Smokeball goes above and beyond in this area to provide practice area-specific online intake forms, which makes these forms far more helpful than generic forms are.
You can read about the ways that Smokeball’s client intake forms work for firms in specific practice areas in this blog post.
Giving Your Law Firm the Flexibility It Deserves
Across the board – from initial client intake to time tracking, matter and case management, billing, and more – Smokeball offers a variety of product tiers and customizations that enable it to adapt to your practice’s unique needs.
In this post, we’re focusing specifically on the ways that Smokeball can optimize your client intake, but overall, the same concepts we’ll discuss below apply throughout every work process and client interaction your law firm has.
How Smokeball Optimizes Your Client Intake
Improving Every Stage of Intake
Smokeball is different from other legal software providers because it looks at client intake as a multi-stage process that doesn’t end when a potential client signs a retainer.
Smokeball breaks client intake into:
- Lead Intake, where potential new clients begin to consider your firm and move towards hiring you
- Matter Intake, where you transition from initial intake into working on a new client’s matter
- Document Intake, where you generate, send, and receive legal documents and forms that need to be completed
Because of this multi-stage approach, Smokeball is able to provide a seamless flow for your law firm – no matter which stage you’re in.
For instance, the transition from working on a prospect’s file during client intake to working on their matter once they sign a retainer is almost instantaneous; in a few clicks, the new client’s file moves into your case management system, with all of the client’s information ready to go. You can read more about how this works in our blog post on legal Customer Relationship Management software (CRM), which is a key element of Smokeball’s legal client intake software solution.
Taking the Pain Out of New Client Intake
Let’s face it – the process of attracting new prospects, answering their questions, collecting their information, running conflict checks, and getting them to complete and sign documents isn’t the reason why most lawyers go to law school.
Luckily, legal client intake software makes all of this easier, quicker, and more enjoyable. This enables you to focus more on the aspects of legal practice that are more important and more profitable for your firm.
Smokeball, in particular, helps you in this Lead Intake part of the process thanks to features such as:
Integrations with email, calendar, and virtual assistant apps
Smokeball’s integrations with Microsoft 365, the Google Suite, and virtual assistant applications make it easy for you to seamlessly communicate with potential clients, schedule initial consultations and follow-ups, and ensure that you can respond to every prospect in a timely manner when they first contact your firm.
For example, if a client reaches out to you via a virtual assistant, the data captured by the virtual assistant will get imported automatically into Smokeball so there’s a new contact file ready for you to get started.
And, starting with your very first interaction with a potential client, Smokeball captures and organizes all of your communications – reducing the risk of a prospect falling through the cracks and enabling anyone with access to the prospect’s file to view all of the communications that have happened to date.
Customizable online client intake forms
As mentioned, Smokeball offers practice area-specific online intake forms that you can send potential new clients at the very beginning of the client intake process – either via email or Smokeball’s secure client portal.
What’s more, Smokeball enables you to create custom intake forms that live on your website and even have your firm’s branding on them. So when a prospect first enters your website, they can enter their information straightaway – before you’ve even spoken with them!
One thing that clients love about Smokeball is that they can create short, initial intake forms, then schedule more detailed, specific follow-up forms to go out automatically to any potential clients who seem like they’re a fit for your firm. And Smokeball makes this incredibly easy thanks to an abundance of pre-built templates for legal documents and forms, which you can customize as you like.
Saving Time Once a New Client Signs a Retainer
Rather than focus solely on client intake, Smokeball offers a comprehensive legal practice management software solution – which begins at the start of intake and follows each client all the way through their journey with your firm.
So, once a client signs a retainer, the process of transitioning all of their information into your case management system and beginning work on their matter is effortless. You don’t need to enter new data because it imports for you automatically.
But, the benefits don’t end there. Smokeball’s Matter Intake solutions also include:
Management of tasks, calendars, and deadlines
Once you start working on a matter, Smokeball makes it seamless for you to continue to schedule necessary appointments with the client, send out email reminders, assign tasks to firm staff and yourself, and stay on top of deadlines.
Without Smokeball’s client intake software, there wouldn’t be continuity from the beginning of intake to the matter management process – so this is a key differentiator.
Simplified communications and a secure client portal
All of your communications with a client, from before and after they sign their retainer, live in Smokeball. This way, you can easily review every interaction your firm has had with a client, and so can anyone else at your firm who needs to access their file.
This is especially powerful if you take advantage of Smokeball’s secure client portal, which clients love because it helps them feel more connected to your firm and gives them a sense of control over the legal process.
Making Document Management Easy
No matter what stage of the legal process a client is in, having a simple way to manage legal documents and forms can make a monumental difference. The faster, clearer, and less complicated it is for you to share documents and forms with clients, get them completed, and get the data into your system, the more time you can save for both you and your clients.
Smokeball’s tools for document management include:
Legal document generation from pre-built templates
Using Smokeball’s custom templates for legal documents and forms – such as practice area-specific online client intake forms – you can generate documents in seconds that include exactly the information you need, for countless different situations and functions.
Doing this saves you time and headaches drafting documents and finding the right forms to send to clients.
Easy document sharing and signing
Using Smokeball, you can send documents and forms to prospects and clients in seconds via email or the secure client portal. For clients, completing these forms is incredibly easy – they just enter the information using any laptop or mobile device, from wherever they are.
And, if you need to sign documents or have them signed by clients, Smokeball's E-Signature capabilities make it so documents can be signed remotely, online, without any faxing, printing, or mailing involved.
Advanced legal document management
Once documents are completed and signed, Smokeball organizes all of the data in the documents within your legal software system – so anyone at your firm who needs to can access the correct documents in a moment’s notice, from anywhere.
Additional Client Intake Features
Beyond these features, Smokeball offers fully online, web browser-based capabilities – meaning you can use it directly from a web browser without being tied to a desktop or a separate software application.
And Smokeball provides reporting and data analytics, so you can get a detailed view of how your firm is performing on metrics related to new prospects and clients, matters started and completed, hours billed, revenue generated, and other important numbers. This knowledge allows you to make more informed decisions and see whether your legal intake optimization strategies are working.
Implementing Client Intake Software at Your Law Firm
If you’re just beginning your legal software journey, already have some software but not for client intake, or you’re looking to switch from a different provider to Smokeball, it’s easier than ever to get started with the most adaptive and customizable legal client intake software in the industry.
Learn more about Smokeball
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