Your law firm puts a lot of money and resources into a successful client intake process. You have implemented a top-notch marketing strategy, you ensure that inquiries are answered quickly, you maintain a robust email drip campaign, and you know how to nurture your leads. As a result, your firm effectively moves leads through the sales funnel toward conversion. But what happens if you expend all of that energy only to have the conversion fall apart in a disorganized onboarding process? Without an effective legal client onboarding process, your law firm could be wasting many hours and a lot of resources on systems that do not convert. That is why you need an audit of your onboarding procedure, and this article will explain how to get it done.
What is Legal Client Onboarding?
Legal client onboarding is the phase of client intake where leads officially become paying clients. Though it may sound like a simple one-step process, doing it correctly requires various tasks to ensure a smooth transition and promote a positive attorney-client relationship. Those steps include the following:
- Ensuring that all contact information captured earlier in the intake process is up to date and accurate.
- Prescreening the client’s needs and expectations to ensure that they are a good fit for your law firm.
- Conflict checking to ensure that there are no past or present conflicts.
- An onboarding meeting which is used to provide clients with information about the specifics of their representation, including what they can expect and what will be expected of them.
To complete an audit, each of these tasks should be closely reviewed to ensure that they are being handled in the most efficient manner and bringing about the desired results.
What to Look for During an Audit
The onboarding audit should start with an examination of the actual processes. You want to know how these procedures are being performed and by what members of the firm. You also want to look at the resources being used for each step and whether there are better options available.
Let’s start with information gathering. If you have a comprehensive intake process in place, contact data and preliminary case information should have been gathered during initial contact. Idealistically, firm members are only checking for any changes and for accuracy at this stage.
However, if you find a tendency towards missing or inaccurate information, that signals a problem earlier in the legal client intake process. Firm members may be forgetting to collect needed data or they may not be recording the information correctly. Audit Trail,
Issues with your firm’s data collection processes can be easily addressed with an automation platform that collects data with minimal assistance from firm members. These technologies are reliable and accurate so that you can ensure the collection of correct information right from the start.
Your firm is extremely busy and the last thing you need is to waste time and resources onboarding for a matter that is not appropriate for your firm. This is the value of prescreening.
Through questionnaires and/or short consult meetings, you can better determine which clients are a good match for your firm and which ones are not. Ask questions about their legal needs to see if their matter fits within your practice area. You can also ask questions about their expectations, which will help you ascertain the type of client they will be and whether their expectations are out of line with reality.
When auditing this process, you also want to make sure that it is done in a manner that is convenient for you and the potential client. Tools like automated scheduling, virtual meeting spaces, and online questionnaires can help you handle the prescreening process efficiently.
Conflict checking is a critical part of the legal client onboarding process, and if your firm relies on emails and phone calls to check for conflicts, you are taking a big risk. Incomplete checks could lead to severe issues. But it can be extremely challenging and time-consuming to do a comprehensive conflict check, especially without the right tools in place. Audit your conflict check process for consistency, accuracy, and efficiency. Any deficiencies could signal a serious problem with your process.
Automated forms can be extremely helpful for the completion of conflict checks. Once potential clients provide the necessary information once, this data can be automatically populated into a conflict check system with minimal work from firm members. The technology then uses various factors to perform a comparison with the existing client database to easily reveal all potential conflicts.
The onboarding meeting is usually the final step in converting a potential client into a paying client. It sets the tone for the representation that will follow, so that the client knows what to expect. Some aspects to consider during your audit include:
- The ease of the process. Clients appreciate a meeting that is organized, productive, and straightforward. They want to feel confident that your firm will operate in a professional manner during their representation.
- Clear communication. This is the stage where you will inform the client of your firm’s policies, procedures, and fees, so it’s important to communicate this information in a clear and comprehensible manner. Written documentation can be effective in this area. It gives your client something tangible to work through while also providing a roadmap for the onboarding meeting.
- Agreement execution. Creating new engagement letters and fee agreements for every new client can be unnecessarily time-consuming and repetitive. By automating this process, you can create a template that can be automatically populated with existing data, saving your firm a lot of time. In addition, e-signature capabilities make the execution of these documents much more convenient, particularly for firms that conduct virtual onboarding meetings.
Take the Time to Audit Your Legal Client Onboarding Process
The start of the year is a great time to audit your firm’s onboarding process, but it should not be the only time. Conduct these audits at least twice per year, to keep improving the process as needed.
One of the best things you can do is to choose legal software that helps you automate many of the tasks associated with these meetings. Law Ruler is a top-quality legal marketing platform with a variety of useful automation features. To learn more, click this link for a free demo.