Your personal injury law firm’s goal is to help people in need in a time of crisis. Most clients will contact your law firm when they’re in a state of shock, anger, pain, and frustration. Your job is to start helping them get back on their feet by providing legal support.
But part of that support needs to begin by creating a smooth personal injury client intake process. But what does a good client intake process look like? What can you do to make sure clients understand the legal process, get to know you, and get their questions answered?
Understanding your clients' needs, giving them more information, and managing expectations are all good places to start.
1. Put Your Clients’ Needs First
The first step in improving your client intake process is focusing on your clients' needs.
When someone has an injury, they don't want to spend a long time filling out an intake form that requires them to scan dozens of documents or give you a long list of granular details. Instead, consider making one that is more straightforward and can be used to schedule a prescreening phone call.
With that in mind, your intake form should request basic information like the potential client's:
- Contact info (phone number and email address)
- Reason for wanting to speak with you
You can ask for more detailed information about the potential case during the first meeting.
If the client ends up not a good fit for your firm, have another attorney in mind to refer them to. If you don't know someone else who can take the case, consider referring them to a legal organization that can help. (And don't forget, if you need more qualified leads, our team at Scorpion can help.)
In the meantime, remember that — even though you won't be the person's attorney for this case — you should still aim to make a positive impression. Doing so may help you attract new clients or bring this prospect back for another reason in the future.
2. Provide Detailed Information to the Client During the Personal Injury Client Intake Process
Much of your time during the intake process should be spent listening to the client. You should also provide all necessary information about your firm's processes.
One of the pieces of information most clients want quickly is the fee schedule. Every law firm works a little differently, making it necessary to go over your fees and how the billing process works.
Talk to your client about payment methods, such as payment plans or contingency arrangements, if you offer them. Explain what kinds of payments you take, including cash, credit cards, or other options.
Payment options should also include your billing schedule. How often do you expect payments, and where can the client pay? Do they pay in the office? Will they pay online in a client portal? Let them know early on in your consultation to eliminate confusion.
One other vital piece of information to discuss is your communication methods. How will the client get in touch when they need you? Do you communicate by text, phone, email, or mail? Do you have a client management system where they'll have access to an online profile and messaging system? Go over what your office hours are and what a client should do if they need to reach you in case of a legal emergency.
At the same time, let them know how long it may take for you to respond. Will you take 24 to 48 hours? Do you need a week to respond because of a heavy caseload? Your clients need to know so they don't get anxious waiting for your responses.
Don't Forget To Be Available for Questions
One thing that sets great attorneys apart from good ones is being available to answer clients' questions.
During the initial intake process, set aside a few minutes on your call to answer questions. If you have a formal consultation, set time aside to allow the client to ask their questions before their time concludes.
Sometimes, clients may not seem to have questions. In reality, they might be overwhelmed. After all, they're dealing with an injury and significant legal challenge. To help, consider answering common client questions on a FAQ page on your website or in a physical pamphlet you can share if they come in for a consultation.
You can also give your clients a way to contact you with questions throughout the legal process. While the process probably feels like second nature to you, your clients will likely feel out of their element. Answer questions as they come up, and be sure to offer a guiding hand throughout the personal injury case.
3. Set and Manage Expectations
As part of the attorney-client relationship, it's essential to set and manage your client's expectations — starting at the beginning with your intake process.
Attorneys see many cases, and they know which ones are most likely to result in a win. If you don't see your prospective client's case as one that has a chance of winning in court, be honest. Let them know what you think will happen if you go to trial. Be clear about the potential for a settlement, and be honest if you think they don't have a case.
If you take on the client and start negotiating or preparing for trial, keep their expectations in check. Make sure they understand what a reasonable outcome may look like. For instance, someone who broke their arm in an accident may not get more than a few thousand dollars if they can't prove negligence. On the other hand, a serious medical malpractice case could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For your clients' sake, setting an expectation for what you think the case is worth and the likelihood of settling or winning in court is a must.
Improve Your Personal Injury Client Intake Process With Scorpion
Your clients deserve a straightforward approach to onboarding. As an attorney who understands what they're going through and their frustrations, you're in the perfect position to take some of the stress off their shoulders.
Working with Scorpion, you get to collaborate with a team that tailors a marketing strategy to your firm's needs, including helping you onboard clients and streamline the intake process. Learn more about building a better personal injury client intake process here.