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What is Client Intake?

What is Client Intake?

Client intake involves acquiring important information about a potential client in order to assess if they are a good fit for your law firm’s services. During this process, information about the client’s legal requirements, background, and financial status is gathered and analyzed. This stage better helps lawyers understand a client’s needs and goals and also create a plan of action. There are several steps involved in the client intake procedure, and each one is crucial in determining if the client is the right fit for the law firm. An efficient client intake procedure also helps ensure the client has a positive onboarding experience and smooth introduction and transition to your business. A good client intake procedure helps law firms forge an early rapport with the client, establish trust, develop a strategy, and ensure effective communication.

4 Steps of the Client Intake Process

Step 1: Initial Contact

The prospective client contacts the law firm to start the intake procedure. This can be by phone, email, or in person. This step involves getting a better understanding of the client’s situation and legal requirements, and includes covering the basics such as their name, contact information, and explanation of their legal situation. This is also a good time to ask how they learned about your law firm — whether it be via a referral, search engine result, ad, or anything in between.

Step 2: Initial Consultation

The next step is to arrange a consultation. After making initial contact, the law firm will arrange for a consultation with the prospective client. The consultation gives the law firm the chance to find out more about the potential client’s legal problem and assess whether they are able to offer the required services. The attorney can discuss the client’s needs, evaluate their case, and offer legal counsel during the session. The legal procedure, possible consequences, and price of services can also be discussed.

Step 3: Client Screening

Client screening is a crucial part of the client intake process. It helps law firms determine whether the prospective client is a suitable fit for the law firm. This process entails checking the potential client’s background, ruling out any conflicts of interest, evaluating their legal needs, and determining if they can afford the legal services.

Client screening is important for a number of reasons, including financial and ethical considerations, reputation management, and risk management. Lawyers must abide by ethical guidelines that forbid conflicts of interest and limit their client roster to those whose interests they can actively and properly represent. By screening prospective clients, law firms can establish if there are any conflicts of interest and if the client will be able to afford the legal services.

Law firms also have a name to uphold, and accepting a difficult client could hurt that name. Screening can help law firms determine possible difficult clients who may be challenging to work with, have a history of not paying bills, or have a reputation for acting unethically.

Finally, client screening can help law firms identify potential legal hazards connected to a specific client’s representation. For instance, a law firm might decline to represent a client who has a history of acting unethically or illegally, which could expose the law business to legal responsibility.

Client screening is crucial for law firms because it minimizes the moral, financial, reputational, and legal risks involved with client representation. Law firms can make sure that they are able to provide competent and effective legal representation while also safeguarding their own interests by properly vetting potential clients.

Step 4: Client Onboarding

If the client chooses to proceed with your law firm’s services, you continue on to the client onboarding stage. This is when a member of a law firm (typically an intake coordinator) provides the client with an intake form, creates a client file, establishes a payment schedule, and designates a lawyer or team for the case. 

To make the onboarding process as efficient as possible, law firms can use client intake software. Some examples include Clio Grow and Lawmatics. Client intake software can streamline the process of gathering new client information, which increases efficiency, improves accuracy, and reduces costs. 

Client onboarding also involves integrating new clients into your firm’s procedures and systems. Once you finish screening, gathering information, and completing a conflict check, it’s time to set the scope of work. You must come to an agreement with the client about the legal services you will offer and the costs you will charge. This is typically done through a retainer. At this point, the law firm will introduce new clients to the attorneys and support personnel who will be handling their case. This may entail arranging a first appointment or phone contact outlining the firm’s offerings and introducing the client to important team members.

How to Improve the Client Intake Process

Streamlining the client intake procedure and hiring an intake coordinator can save time, increase efficiency, and ultimately maximize revenue potential for a law firm. By investing in client intake software, you can automate tedious processes, lower the amount of paperwork, and even improve client communication.

Automation can also help track performance and analyze metrics. By gathering input from clients and staff, law firms can keep tabs on how well their intake procedure is working. This data can be used to pinpoint problem areas. Law firms can use metrics like the number of new clients recruited and conversion rates to gauge the success of the intake procedure and find areas where they can make improvements.


An effective client intake process helps law firms identify potential clients, assess case viability, manage expectations, reduce legal risks, and ultimately set the firm up for long-term success. If your firm is struggling with client intake, it may be time to consider investing in client intake software that can help streamline the process and boost productivity.

Contact Our Law Firm Marketing Team Today

At ONE400, we pride ourselves on being leaders in law marketing. Our team of professionals helps lawyers and law firms craft comprehensive marketing strategies that accelerate growth and help them reach their goals and objectives. We can help improve your client intake process while helping you retain clients and generate leads. Our team of professionals uses innovative marketing techniques to help law firms achieve their business goals and objectives. If you have any questions about the components of your law firm marketing, product, or growth strategy, please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about how we can help.  

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About the author

Allen Rodriguez Allen Rodriguez is a legal product development strategist who has been serving the legal industry for over 21 years. Over the course of his career, Allen has built a reputation for creating innovative legal services products as well as developing highly effective law firm business and marketing strategies. Allen is a valued speaker on the topics of law marketing, legal services product development, and future of law issues.

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