How Legal Project Management Can Improve the Client Intake Process

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By: The NBI Team

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

How Legal Project Management Can Improve the Client Intake Process

Every new client deserves the attention and focus of their attorney, but much of the intake process is administrative in nature. Over the years, many attorneys have learned that a streamlined, project-focused approach can drastically limit the amount of exhausted time during the intake process.

For some attorneys, the answer to this issue is the use of legal project management solutions. Simply put, legal project management takes the approach used by corporate project managers and applies it to the practice of law. This could include the use of software or internal procedures, among other options. While streamlining the intake process can save time and money, it is critical to avoid any ethical pitfalls during the process.

The Need for Legal Project Management

There is no question that many attorneys can benefit greatly from using legal project management systems to streamline the client intake process. After all, most attorneys struggle with focusing enough of their time on billable tasks. According to a 2017 study prepared by legal software company Clio, the average lawyer only bills 2.9 hours out of every 8-hour day. While some of this downtime is unavoidable, the unfortunate reality is that much of this time is wasted on administrative tasks. The study went on to reveal that 48 percent of an attorney’s day is spent on administrative tasks.

Streamlining Intake with LPM

Ultimately, legal project management is about planning out and controlling administrative processes within a law firm in order to minimize wasted time. This often involves creating a workflow that prevents attorneys from reinventing the wheel for every client.

When it comes to client intake, simply developing a process and committing to it in writing is an important first step. Every new client can follow this workflow, ensuring that all of the necessary steps in the intake process are followed.

One of the major benefits of these systems is the ability to delegate. By using a legal project management system, it is possible to hand off much of the intake process to a trusted staff member. With these systems in place, it is also much easier to train new staff when turnover occurs.

There are many resources available for attorneys considering a legal project management approach. For high-volume firms, there is an array of software solutions; for smaller firms, merely making use of client intake checklists and processes could make the difference. In the end, legal project management is primarily a mindset that can limit wasted time and increase productivity.

Important Intake Protocols

A strong set of intake protocols will help a lawyer focus their time on client interaction, as opposed to shuffling through paperwork. This is important, as a frustrating initial consultation could be enough for a client to look elsewhere for legal counsel.

Intake protocols should lay out every step of the process, and they can begin before the client ever arrives. Much of the initial information gathering can be done remotely through forms and questionnaires. These questionnaires can cover basic biographical information including the client’s name, address, and other contact information.

That said, the intake process should also collect information regarding the general nature of the client’s claim as well as their urgency in concluding these matters. By providing basic information about the claim upfront, it can allow a firm to be better prepared to answer questions at the initial consultation. Other valuable information during the intake process includes how the client learned of the firm, whether they discussed this case with other attorneys previously, and if the prospective client has ever had legal representation before.

Intake is not only about obtaining information from the client. A large part of the process also involves educating the client on their rights as well as an attorney's business practices. This could include information about the attorney-client relationship or a guide to the firm's billing practices. Answering procedural questions upfront can leave more time for discussing the specifics of a client's claim.

Client Intake and Your Bottomline

If you want to learn more about how law firms can streamline procedures and measure inefficiencies in intake, don’t miss NBI’s November 13, 2020 event, Client Intake & Your Bottomline, presented by Attorney Phyllis R. Calloway. Topics to be discussed include creating intake procedures, the use of analytics in intake, reducing inefficiencies, and worthwhile technology. If you can’t attend on the 13th, the program will be available OnDemand shortly after it airs.

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This blog post is for general informative purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information. While we attempted to ensure accuracy, completeness and timeliness, we assume no responsibility for this post’s accuracy, completeness or timeliness.

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