Client Onboarding: The Ultimate Checklist for a Successful File Opening
Discover the five steps to ensure that your file opening proceeds correctly - and advice on what needs to be done.
Why do I need to implement a client onboarding for my law firm?
The client onboarding is a structured process whereby a new client is introduced to the services of your law firm.
This process is integral to your client’s experience and enables you to…
- Establish a healthy client relationship
This process aids in avoiding any misunderstandings or confusion, thereby reducing the risk of future issues or disputes, notably the objection from your client to pay your fees.
- Improve efficiency
By standardizing your onboarding process, you can allocate the saved resources and time to other activities within your firm. For example: using the saved time to motivate and train your new employees.
- Retain your clients
Clients who have had a positive onboarding experience are more likely to seek your firm’s services for other legal matters in the future, and they are more inclined to recommend your services to other clients.
Steps to follow for efficiently opening a new case
- Initial Contact
- Consultation Preparation
- Initial Consultation
- Sending a Fee Agreement
- Creating the Client Profile
1. Initial Contact
It is crucial to establish multiple contact points where your client can easily reach your firm.
Examples: a dynamic contact form on your website; a QR code placed on your business card to directly send an email; a link in your LinkedIn biography to initiate a phone call directly.
After setting up your different contact points, it is essential that your clients’ messages are redirected and consolidated in the same place.
By creating different communication channels, you will quickly find yourself with Instagram messages, WhatsApp messages, SMS messages, an email inbox, etc.
There is therefore a risk of missing important messages.
Certain customer relationship management software consolidates these different messages into one single workspace. An example of a free tool: HubSpot.
2. Preparation for the consultation
This step involves gathering all preliminary information about the client and their legal case.
For this, you can send your client a preliminary questionnaire before the consultation.
Thanks to forms, you can estimate your workload, check for conflicts of interest and ensure the issue falls within your field of competence.
This form also enables you to calmly prepare for your first consultation with your client. During this first meeting, you don’t waste time in front of them gathering and sorting useful information and documents. The client will perceive your professionalism because you have made the effort to understand their request before the consultation.
One effective method is to send a form to your client by email and indicate a minimum fee for booking an appointment.
By proposing a paid initial consultation, you avoid those who seek free advice (window shoppers) or clients who do not honor their reservations. Subsequently, you can incorporate the cost of the discovery consultation into the final service if the client signs your fee agreement.
Example: You can send an online questionnaire by email to your client and then give them the possibility to book a paid appointment through the tool Calendly.
3. Initial Consultation
During this stage, you meet your client in person or via video conference to discuss their legal situation in detail.
This consultation allows for listening to the client and providing them with concrete responses.
It is wise to consistently ask the client during the first consultation for the reasons for their visit and their expectations. Depending on their responses, you can adjust and prioritize certain objectives and the tasks that result from them to add value to your client.
Examples of questions to ask in order to put your client at ease and to understand their needs, expectations, and emotional state include: “What do you expect from me as a lawyer?”, “How should we work with you to ensure you are delighted and recommend us?”, “What do you believe are qualities an excellent lawyer should possess?”, “What do you need to feel better?”.
4. Signing your Fee Agreement
Following this initial consultation, should there be a need for further steps (examples: drafting and negotiation for a business transfer contract, organizing a meeting with unions regarding a reorganization, claiming a compensation from an insurance company) or a legal procedure, you can:
- Create a proposal of services that clearly illustrates how you intend to assist your client.
- Detail your fee structure, costs, and expectations regarding payment.
- Send your fee agreement.
Example: Symplicy saves you from back and forth emails to obtain a signature on your contracts: the privacy charter and the general terms. With Symplicy, you can easily obtain acceptance of your contractual documents online following the contact form.
5. Creating the Client Profile
If the client accepts your fee agreement, the client is then integrated into your system:
- You create a client profile with all their contact information and the necessary details for anti-money laundering measures and compliance with GDPR.
- You preserve a copy of the signed agreement for your records.
Example: It is wise to automatically record your client’s contact information into your system once they contact you.
With Symplicy, we understand the burden of manually entering client data into a Word document or your industry-specific software to generate the client profile.
That’s why we have established a series of partnerships with software providers specific to your profession.
The goal? When a person completes one of our intelligent contact forms, the client information is transferred to the correct client file in your industry-specific software.
If the person is a new client, then a new file is created in your industry-specific software. You can then easily generate your client profile in PDF format.
Our simplified contact form allows you to confidently prepare for an initial consultation and meet certain deontological rules of your profession.