We have all heard (or experienced) horror stories about attorneys who agreed to represent clients they probably should not have. Many attorneys discussing these situations often begin with, “I should have never agreed to represent them,” or something to that effect. One way to avoid becoming a cautionary tale is to use intake forms to qualify leads to set the attorney-client relationship for success, not failure, from the outset.
CloudLex helps make that possible by providing intuitive and customizable client intake forms. Easily create the form and share the link with potential clients before the consultation so you can screen their answers even before the first meeting.
What does it mean to qualify leads?
In short, to qualify a lead is to ensure that the person reaching out to your firm is a real person and is a good fit for your firm. In other words, you check to see if they are a prospective client with a real legal problem you can solve and do not pose a risk to your law license.
As you know, the ethical rules require you to provide competent legal representation. To do so, you must ensure that the client is a good fit, the case falls within your practice, and there are no red flags or other issues that might prevent you from being the individual’s attorney. Implementing a process to qualify leads before you enter into a representation or fee agreement with them helps limit the potential malpractice complaints and headaches you might encounter if you sign on a problem client.
What should I look for when qualifying leads?
Other than the restraints imposed by the ethical rules, there is no hard-and-fast rule about what makes a client a good fit for your firm. But there are a few areas to look out for when qualifying leads to ensure that it is wise to move forward with the case:
- The type of legal issue
- Whether your team and the client are compatible, and
- The presence or absence of red flags
These answers are different for each person and each firm. Your team can help hone the process of qualifying leads by identifying what you want and potential cases or clients to avoid.
Type of legal issue
First and foremost, before you take a case, be clear about the type of legal issues involved and whether they are within your practice area. Sometimes discovering this answer is more complex than it may seem at first glance, especially when communicating with clients who do not necessarily have the tools to describe their legal problems accurately.
When meeting with the client for the first time, review related legal documents and request that the client forward those to you before or during the appointment. With the proper intake management software, potential clients can submit associated documents and fill out the intake sheets electronically. Reviewing these before the meeting saves you and your clients valuable time.
Another way to qualify leads is to gauge whether you or your staff are compatible with the potential client. If there were multiple misunderstandings leading up to the consultation or the initial meeting seemed rocky, it may be a good idea to bow out and refer the client to another attorney. Compatibility issues can fester and become malpractice liability once the case progresses or if the client does not get a favorable outcome.
Jim Calloway of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program describes a handful of potential red flags when someone approaches you for legal services. Among them are the “repeat client” who has talked to multiple attorneys before, but none of them could help, or the potential client who schedules an appointment with you on the last day they have to file something. Look out for these and other red flags and take proper action before you agree to be someone’s attorney.
How can I qualify leads using client intake forms?
Effective client intake forms can help you qualify leads faster and more accurately. Screening and qualifying clients are essential, but you do not always have the time to go through every question with the client. By inputting this information into your intake sheets, you streamline the process, ensuring you have the material you need to know if this individual is a good fit for your firm.
How can intake sheets help? You can include detailed and intuitive questions to gather the client and case history you need before the initial consultation. Asking clear and pointed questions on the intake form can help guide the discussion and identify potential red flags before it is too late.
CloudLex: Intuitive intake management at your fingertips
Qualifying leads before you file your appearance in the case is imperative, but it can be challenging to do so promptly and effectively. That is not the case with our intake management system. You can gather everything you need about the client and the claim using detailed and customizable intake forms. By using an electronic form, you can save valuable time otherwise wasted on data entry tasks.
Our robust system allows you to create and manage legal workflows automation to ensure you know where every lead is. Finally, with one click, you can automatically transfer the intake file to a dedicated new matter in matter management software when the client signs the fee agreement.
We build solutions for PI attorneys like you so you can help clients pursue justice for the harm done to them. Contact our team today to find out how else we can support your practice.