How Legal Client Intake Software Benefits Different Areas of Law
April 21, 2023
For many legal professionals, the terms “client intake” and “lead management” bring negative emotions to mind. Many law firms need a better process or workflow for attracting new potential clients, responding to them promptly, evaluating their situation, getting their information into the system, and creating a positive impression that leads to the client signing a retainer.
If this sounds familiar, looking at your law firm’s lead management and client intake process could unlock value for your practice. (And, even if you currently do intake well, there’s always room for improvement.)
One of the most impactful and accessible ways to upgrade your intake process is to utilize legal lead management and client intake software. While lead management software helps firms manage and nurture potential clients, intake software typically does that and more—helping you guide potential new clients from their very first interaction with your firm all the way through the moment when they hire your services.
Leveraging Client Intake Software as Legal Workflow Software
In this way, client intake software works like legal workflow software, creating a standardized flow and process for your law firm to follow.
Doing this brings several powerful benefits to your firm, including:
- More satisfied clients (who then bring you referrals)
- Happier lawyers and admin staff
- More time saved—for both you and your clients
- Better, faster communication
- Fewer lost clients and missed opportunities
- And increased profits
In this post, we’ll discuss what legal client intake software is, how it works, and what it does for law firms. Then, we’ll take a look at how client intake software can make a specific impact in six different practice areas: Family Law, Personal Injury, Litigation, Business & Employment Law, Estate Planning, and Real Estate Law.
Let’s get started!
How Lead Management Software and Client Intake Software Works for Your Area of Law
Issues with traditional lead management and client intake
In general, lead management and client intake software make a massive difference for law firms because it leverages technology to improve some areas where many firms’ client intake processes fall flat.
For example, many law firms struggle with lead management and client intake because:
- They miss lots of calls and emails from potential clients—or are painfully slow to respond to prospects’ questions
- Lots of back-and-forth communication between the firm and prospects results in miscommunications, confusion, and errors
- The process for gathering and entering client data into the firm’s system is slow, inaccurate, and unnecessarily repetitive
- The firm still uses outdated intake methods, such as mailed-in or faxed paper documents; tedious manual data entry that drains the legal staff’s time; and cluttered filing cabinets full of difficult-to-find client files
These issues are particularly problematic in the modern world because today’s legal clients are accustomed to receiving higher levels of customer service in everything they do—from ordering food or transportation to shopping, finding medical care, and even paying their taxes.
People expect to find legal representation just as quickly as they can easily do all of these things—and they expect to be able to do it online. If your firm isn’t delivering a legal client intake experience that meets these expectations, they’ll find another firm that does.
What law firm lead management and client intake software does
The need to meet heightened legal client expectations is where legal technology shines. Lead management and client intake software enables law firms to seamlessly lead potential clients through every step of the client journey. It lets you get potential clients in the door quickly and efficiently, moves them smoothly towards signing a retainer, and then makes it simple and fast to start working on their matter or case once they hire you when your legal intake process wraps into your legal case management software.
The best legal client intake software vendors will provide both lead management and intake functionality connected to or within your legal case management software, and the terms lead management software and client intake software are often interchangeable.
Related reading: Legal Intake: How to Improve with Legal Tech
Client intake integrations
For instance, lead management software can help you get a potential client’s data into your system immediately—from the first time they call you or visit your website. (An example of this is Smokeball’s integration with Smith.ai, which auto-syncs information recorded by Smith.ai’s virtual receptionists so that information appears immediately in the Smokeball client intake system.)
Legal software document automation
Legal client intake software can help you eliminate manual data entry by providing your potential clients with online forms that automatically sync with your legal client intake and case management systems. This way, once the potential clients have entered their data the first time, from there on out it will auto-populate into any matters and documents where you need it.
Improved legal client communications
Client intake software also improves your communications and response times because it lets you see all your communications with a potential client—and write response emails—directly in the software. You can schedule future communications to go out when and where you want them to, and some software providers like Smokeball enable you to create branded marketing campaigns and newsletters to engage your audience.
Quick conflict checks
Additionally, client intake software for law firms has powerful capabilities to rapidly conduct conflict checks by searching through your entire database of existing clients, matters, and contacts—then alerting you instantly if a potential conflict arises.
And, when it’s time for the potential client to hire you and sign a retainer, client intake software enables clients to sign legal documents online, so you don’t need them to print out, mail, or fax you their retainer agreements.
Getting to work in your legal case management software
Then, once a new client has officially hired you, you can convert them from a lead to a client in the software in just a few clicks. This rapid transition from prospect to client lets you begin working on matters or cases immediately, with all of the new client’s information ready to go in your legal case management software.
Note: Some software providers specialize only in client intake, integrating with case management systems rather than providing an end-to-end solution. Other providers, Smokeball included, offer client intake and case management in one seamless legal workflow software platform.
The value of lead management and client intake software for lawyers
Lead management or legal client intake software is valuable to law firms because it helps you make a great first impression with potential new clients.
In competitive practice areas and states where potential clients have many different law firms to choose from, standing out and developing a reputation for providing excellent customer service means a great deal.
Another reason is that legal workflow software makes life easier for your lawyers and staff. It does this in many ways, such as eliminating time-consuming data entry thanks to online intake forms, streamlining communications and reducing confusion with email integrations; simplifying conflict checks so no one has to dig through files for hours, and syncing the intake process with case or matter management—so everything flows smoothly.
It’s not just about making life easier, though: Client intake software can also help you increase profits for your firm. Some of the ways that client intake software can enhance your bottom line include:
- Freeing up more time for lawyers to focus on billable activities
- Preventing potential clients from choosing a competitor’s services over yours
- Ensuring that you don’t lose potential clients due to slow response times or miscommunications
- And attracting more potential clients by creating a 5-star customer experience that generates positive reviews and referrals.
Benefits of lead management and client intake software for different areas of law
Ok—we’ve discussed how legal lead management and client intake software work and why they benefit any area of law. Now, let’s look at some specific ways that firms in different areas of law can utilize this helpful software.
Lead management and client intake software for family law firms
Practicing Family Law means representing clients facing highly complex, challenging, and emotional circumstances. As such, it’s vital to create a client intake process at your firm that:
- Helps you build trust and confidence with potential clients right away
- Enables you to remind your clients about upcoming court dates, deadlines, and other vital events
- Gets you all of the detailed information you need about a matter as quickly as possible
Legal case intake software empowers you to do these things by making things easy for potential clients during challenging times in their lives. Accessible, responsive, professional communications go a long way towards achieving this, and the email integrations within your intake software make it simple. These email tools are also great for scheduling and sending reminder messages, so clients never miss upcoming critical dates.
Additionally, a few client intake software providers—including Smokeball—go the extra mile with custom, practice area-specific online intake forms. For Family Law firms, these online legal forms collect all of the nuanced information you need to know about a potential client’s unique situation—right off the bat. Smokeball also integrates directly with Settify, a helpful software that enables you to get even more specific information before an initial client meeting; then, you can import that information directly into Smokeball and automatically create a new Matter without needing to manually enter any data yourself.
Lead management and client intake software for personal injury law firms
Personal injury intake software lets you quickly get new potential clients into your system, check for conflicts, and keep your entire database organized—even if you have thousands of open matters.
As mentioned above, if the software provides practice-area-specific online intake forms, you can collect the detailed information you need just by sending the legal document to a prospect for them to fill out online. For instance, a new potential client filling out a PI-specific intake form might be asked to provide the following:
- Their contact information
- Information and descriptions about their accident, injury, or medical situation
- Any pre-existing conditions, post-incident repercussions, or other details you should know
Many personal injury intake software tools won’t collect this high level of detail, but they can still be helpful. However, gathering more specific information is a distinct, time-saving advantage, especially if the client intake software is part of an end-to-end, legal workflow software solution—such as personal injury case management software that immediately imports the client’s details into a Matter once they hire you.
Lead management and client intake software for litigation law firms
Like Family Law, firms that practice Litigation must keep potential and existing clients informed about court dates and other important deadlines related to their matters or cases. The email integrations and scheduling tools in client intake software like Smokeball make this easy to do.
With online intake forms custom created for Litigation firms, you’ll be able to collect important details such as:
- The parties involved in a dispute
- The details of any particular events in question
- Important information you need to know about the client’s circumstances ahead of time
And for cases such as class action lawsuits, having a well-organized database of leads and clients is essential—because there can be many people to keep track of.
Lead management and client intake software for business & employment law firms
Firms practicing Business & Employment Law represent a wide range of matters and clients—from business formation to contract negotiation, M&A, securities law, intellectual property rights, tax law, and labor compliance.
Client intake software can be particularly useful in these areas because it helps you capture all of the information you need to start a new client relationship—then it lets you continually update and add information to the client’s file as needed over time. In other words, what begins as a New Lead during client intake seamlessly becomes a Matter in your case management system, enabling you to pick up exactly where you left off and then build on it going forward.
Utilizing legal client intake software as a Business & Employment Law firm is also highly beneficial because it creates a professional, buttoned-up first impression when dealing with new potential clients you want to impress.
Lead management and client intake software for Estate Planning law firms
Estate Planning involves many complex details, as well as the ability to add and update information whenever necessary over time. There are also many different people to keep track of besides the client—including their spouse, children, grandchildren, executor, or guardians. And there might be many kinds of assets to keep track of, some of them worth a lot of money, so data accuracy is of the utmost importance.
Legal client intake software enhances an Estate Planning firm’s ability to form an initial relationship with a new potential client, then build on it over time. It does this by simplifying how the firm: collects information from the client; maintains that information; stays in touch with the client and their loved ones; and manages the signing and storage of essential documents.
Legal Intake software can be compelling for Estate Planning firms if it operates in conjunction with an Estate Planning client portal. For example, Smokeball integrates with DecisionVault, which has a built-in client portal that automatically syncs and updates information and can share documents between the two software platforms. This integration allows the law firm to keep every piece of information as up-to-date as possible and to communicate with clients however they prefer.
Lead management and client intake software for real estate law firms
For firms practicing Real Estate Law, the intake process is about getting things started on the right foot—so you can build a fruitful and long-lasting client relationship.
Client intake software is helpful because it lets you make a great first impression, as we’ve discussed, by creating an easy, user-friendly process for potential new clients to follow when they first reach out to your practice. It helps you quickly get the potential client’s data into your system so you don’t get bogged down with paperwork or back-and-forth messages.
And document e-signature features make completing paperwork simple and fast.
Additionally, real estate clients and prospects are ideal for email campaigns and marketing newsletters, which you can create, schedule, and send directly from software like Smokeball.
Legal workflows and technology to efficiently convert potential clients into retaining clients
From a practice area-specific standpoint, client intake software should enable your firm’s legal intake workflow to do everything it needs to. In other words, the intake software should feel like it’s designed for your firm and your clients.
But no matter what your practice area is, legal client intake software such as Smokeball can enormously impact your firm’s success.
Intake software makes things better for your clients by simplifying their interactions with your law firm, allowing them to fill out forms and sign documents online, and enabling you to communicate important details efficiently and responsively.
For your lawyers and admin staff, client intake software is highly beneficial because it saves them time by automating redundant tasks and data entry; frees them from being the first point of contact with potential clients (thanks to virtual receptionist integrations and intake forms that appear directly on your website); and allows them to concentrate on significant, billable work instead of getting bogged down with intake.
And for your firm overall, legal client intake software saves money by creating more efficient, standardized processes—and it can also generate more revenue by enhancing your firm’s reputation, preventing you from losing out on potential clients, and fostering better word-of-mouth referrals and 5-star reviews.
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