According to the Legal Trends Report, lawyers spend only an average of 2.3 hours per day on billable tasks.
How is that possible?
Administrative tasks can take up more time than you think. Take client intake, for example: You might take a call, ask your new client to fill out a form (or fill one out yourself), re-enter the data from the form into your practice management software, and rewrite the same information again when you draft an engagement letter. Before you know it, you or your staff have spent an hour or more on rote, repetitive tasks that aren’t billable.
Automation can help. With the right setup, you can easily bring on new clients in a fraction of the time with less data entry—and less risk of error. You’ll be happier, and so will your clients.
Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Use client intake tools
There are many programs that automate various parts of the client intake process, whether by making it easy to create intake forms, or by giving clients the option to use e-signatures so that you can get documents signed without having to meet face-to-face.
The best tools integrate directly with your practice management software, so that a new contact or matter is created automatically, right when you new clients fill out an intake form.
Lexicata is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that allows you to build online intake forms. It also includes consultation scheduling with automatic reminders, fee agreement automation, and electronic signatures. Lexicata integrates directly with Clio, so when a client fills in an intake form, their data will be loaded directly into Clio.
Intake 123 allows you to design customized online intake forms for your practice. You can embed Intake 123 forms onto your firm website to capture information from prospective clients, and since Intake 123 integrates with Clio, contacts and matters can be created and updated automatically in Clio when a visitor fills out these forms.
Amiqus ID lets you securely capture client intake data and key documentation with end-to-end encryption. Amiqus also offers identity and compliance checks and more.
Traklight streamlines client intake while also clarifying a potential client’s legal needs. The software includes questionnaires to help identify business risks, IP issues, and contract needs, so clients will better understand the value of the legal services they’re getting.
Campaign Tracker, available to subscribers of Clio’s Elite plan, enables you to understand the value of how much you spend on advertising by keeping track of the number of new clients that you sign on from each of your advertising initiatives. With Campaign Tracker, it’s possible to add a contact form to your website that will automatically create a new contact in Clio each time the form is filled out.
Tip: Going paperless is the key to the easy automation of administrative intake tasks. Operating from a brick and mortar office? Speed up the process by providing your client with an iPad or tablet in the waiting room to create a paperless, client-facing data entry process.
2. Use Zapier
If you’re spending any amount of time on repeatable tasks between apps, look at whether you can use Zapier to save that time. It allows you to automate actions between your favorite apps by setting up Zaps between them.
For example, you could set up a Google Form, then add a Zap to automatically create a new matter in your practice management software when the form is filled out (here’s the Zap that lets you do that with Clio).
If you like, you could take it a step further to automatically create your engagement agreements which is what Washington firm Palace Law does. The firm collects all new client information in a Google spreadsheet. Then using document automation, they use the information from their client intake to automatically create their initial contracts.
3. Use a website service that integrates client intake
Whether potential clients find you via an online directory, or whether they hear about you from a family friend, they’re likely to look for more information before they hire you, so you need a professional website that communicates what your firm does. You could hire a web designer or build a website yourself, but another option is to use legal-specific website platforms and services that cater to what your firm needs.
Many of these services will also help you automate client intake for your firm. Here are a few options:
LawLytics is a platform for building attorney websites, but it also includes the option to create an unlimited number of customizable forms that can be placed anywhere on your site. If you use LawLytics with Clio, information from your firms will be pulled directly into Clio—no need to install an additional plugin for your website.
DirectLaw is a platform for virtual law firms. It includes a range of options, including a client-facing legal document automation platform, and a secure online client intake portal that can be used to bring in new clients and communicate with existing ones. DirectLaw clients and matters can be exported directly to Clio, keeping all of your key firm information in one place.
JurisPage is a marketing and website design agency for law firms. In addition to helping increase your online visibility, it lets you create customized online intake forms for your site.
JurisPage integrates with Clio, so you can connect forms fields on your website to fields in your Clio account. Whenever someone fills out the web form, a new client contact card with all of their information will be created automatically in Clio.
Use technology to make client intake easier
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and there’s no getting away from the day-to-day administrative needs of your legal practice. But, with a bit of research, technology can help you worry less about data entry so that you can spend more time helping your clients.
Take time to look at these tools to find the one that works best for your firm, but know that whatever you choose isn’t set in stone. Technology is constantly evolving, and you can always tweak your process or try out a new tool to make client intake at your firm more efficient for you and more pleasant for your clients.