Intake Process: Onboarding Clients Efficiently & Effectively as a Law Firm

Intake Process

Lawyers are busy people.

They’re at the frontline of all legal matters, providing advice on tricky issues, resolving disputes, and representing clients in court if needs be. All. Year. Round.

Ergo: There’s a lot on any given lawyer’s plate.

With the huge amount of recurring tasks that need to be completed, on top of looming deadlines and constant work-related pressures, it’s easy for quality to slip. Especially when it comes to one of the most important processes of all – the intake process.

It’s why 61% of law firms forget to ask for the client’s name during their initial conversation, why 35% of calls from clients go unanswered, and why it takes 3 or more days for 42% of law firms to respond to prospective clients.

For a law firm to keep its prestigious reputation – and to continue working with great clients – the intake process needs to effective, efficient, and done properly.

That’s why this blog post exists.

In this post, I’ll discuss what an intake process is, its benefits, why it’s important, and how Process Street can help law firms streamline the entire process.

Read through the sections below to get clued up:

Let’s begin; the court is in session! ⚖️

What is the intake process definition?

What is the intake process

The intake process is a series of steps law firms undergo after a prospective client has made contact.

These steps normally include responding to prospective client emails or calls, conducting screenings, setting up meetings with prospective clients, and capturing their data.

The intake process begins when a prospective client gets in touch with a law firm and ends when the firm has fully onboarded the client. After onboarding, the law firm then begins the other relevant processes for tackling the client’s problems.

However, not every client will be taken by the law firm – nor will, after talking, every client want to work with that particular firm. So, from the firm’s perspective, the intake process is also a way of sussing out leads.

It’s as easy as that.

Here’s what Process Street’s Intake Process Template (For Law Firms) looks like:

Click here to get the Intake Process Template (For Law Firms)!

The benefits of a solid client intake process

Intake process benefits

There wouldn’t be such a hullabaloo over the intake process if it didn’t bring about some kind of advantages, benefits, or rewards, right?


As Frank Strong, the communications director at LexisNexis, wrote:

“The number of business leads were increasing every month, yet the number of cases the firm took on were declining says Luke Marchie of a firm with which he’s previously worked.

The problem, according to the marketing director who is currently with Young, Klein & Associates, a firm focusing on criminal defense, was directly tied to the lack of a sound client intake process and untrained staff.”Frank Strong, Best Practices for Effective Law Firm Client Intake

Simply put, more and more prospective clients were interested in working with the firm but, because their intake process was in disarray, the number of clients the firm had was dropping.

No matter if you’re a part of a small, boutique law firm or a mammoth company willing to take on and work with nearly everyone, we can all agree that the above isn’t an ideal situation.

However, by going about the client intake process properly with due care and attention, it can be rectified.

It’s not only good for rebalancing leads and intake – there are a ton of other benefits that a good client intake process provides, too!

Specifically, it:

  • Ensures human error doesn’t impede progress
  • Organization; there isn’t enough of it! Disorganization can lead to losing clients due to inactivity, forgetting important steps along the way, and even blundering through tasks clumsily. Basically, it could mess the whole client onboarding process up. By having – and consistently using – a good intake client process, human error can be kept at bay.

  • Speeds up the whole endeavor
  • A common misconception is that going by the book slows things down. Not only in terms of law firm client intake, but also when it comes to cooking a meal, cleaning a home, hiring new employees, or anything else which has a process. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. By following a documented process, the whole thing can be sped up. No time is spent wondering what should happen. No double-checking what the next task is. Just doing what needs to be done – and quickly. That’s true business efficiency right there!

  • Guarantees repeated results
  • What’s nifty about processes is that they can be repeated. In this instance, whenever a new client makes contact with the firm, employees know exactly how to respond, what to do next, and why, each and every time. Results? Guaranteed.

  • Helps newer, junior lawyers
  • Just as processes can be repeated, they can also be easily learned by new employees if they’re documented. Let’s say new lawyers join the firm; they’re able to follow company protocol by abiding by the documented processes. A documented intake process, then, also acts as a learning guide.

  • Properly captures client data
  • At its heart, the client intake process is about ensuring a prospective client is the right fit for a firm. Whether the fit is good or not will be largely determined by the client’s data, which will be captured as part of the process. This data includes what the prospective client needs help with, why, how long they’ve had the problem or problems for, and so on. With an intake process being followed, integral data is properly captured.

By this point, I’m sure you’ve taken on board how beneficial the client intake process can be. However, the operative word is ‘can’.

A bad intake process simply won’t allow you to reap as many rewards, especially if the process is undocumented. In fact, a bad intake process can do significant damage, as outlined in the earlier LexisNexis example.

However, there’s the aforementioned Intake Process Template (For Law Firms) that you can use.

Here’s how it works… ⬇️

How to use Process Street’s intake process template (for law firms)

First off, let me explain how Process Street itself works.

Process Street lets you document workflows, business processes, and integral procedures as templates, you or other members of your team can then launch checklists from those templates. Checklists help guide people through important processes and recurring tasks with ease.

Now, what you see embedded below is a template (you saw this one earlier).

Click here to get the Intake Process Template (For Law Firms)!

After signing up to Process Street for free, you can add the template to your account. Then, you can edit the template to suit your firm’s own needs, or you can launch checklists from it straight away in a plug-and-play manner.

If you’re opting for the latter, here’s the flow of it.

First, as the lawyer, you’ll need to input your own basic details. This helps sets up workflow automation features such as role assignments. You’ll then be asked to send an intake form to the potential client.

intake process screenshot

If their completed intake form looks promising (it will be assessed via an approval task), you’ll then set up a meeting with the potential client and record notes when the meeting takes place.

intake process flow

Then, after the meeting, if it looks like you and your firm can help and work with the client, you’ll move forward by drawing up a representation agreement, request other files like legal documents from your clients, and creating a client strategy plan. It’s during this section where the client onboarding really happens.

intake process for lawyers flow

The process ends once you’ve told the client about the strategy and confirmed what your next steps will be.

Again, super simple.

With Process Street, you can manage recurring tasks – every single one of them!

Use Process Street for all your law-related process needs!

To recap: Process Street is superpowered checklists.

Our nifty BPM software makes recurring tasks fast, fun, and faultless for teams everywhere.

If you’re wondering “But how are your checklists superpowered, exactly?”, let me explain.

Our aforementioned workflow automation features turn run of the mill checklists into ones that are out of this world.

Specifically, these features include (but aren’t limited to):

Are they piquing your interest?

I thought as much.

Watch the webinar below to see and hear Process Street’s customer success team deep dive into some of these features.

Or, if you want to try them first-hand, just sign up for a free account today.

Additional resources for successful law firms

Law is an extremely competitive field to work in.

Your law firm needs to do everything in its power to get an advantageous lead over others. Luckily, I’ve got a few more templates that’ll help with exactly that…

Click here to get the Daily Schedule Template!

Click here to get the Business Needs Assessment Template!

Click here to get the Employee Development Plan Template!

Click here to get the Employee Performance Review Template!

Click here to get the Client Onboarding for Criminal Law Firms Template!

If that’s not enough, we have even more useful content to read.

These business blog posts – written by members of Process Street’s content team – will help your law firm truly get its processes and procedures up to scratch.

With the information I’ve supplied on the intake process, your new Process Street business software account, and the free templates and reading material, your intake process – and law firm overall – is now ready to make significant strides.

I can’t wait to see your firm come out on top.

Are you a pro at the intake process? Are there any tips or tricks you’d like to share with the Process Street community? If so, write them down in the comment section below.

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Thom James Carter

Thom is one of Process Street’s content writers. He’s also contributed tech-related writing to The New Statesman, Insider, Atlassian, G2, The Content Marketing Institute, and more. Follow him on Twitter @thomjamescarter.

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