It may not be the stuff of compelling legal thrillers, but intake and triage truly is a paramount concern for Legal Departments: Done wrong, it can lead to fumbled projects, duplicated efforts and/or an overwhelming pipeline. Done right, it can set up each matter for success.
In our new series, we will address the ins and outs of Legal Intake & Triage – and how a few adjustments to the process can improve your operations, service and morale.
Why Legal Intake Matters – From the Outside
When it comes to Legal Intake, expand your thinking. This isn’t about a mandatory form; it’s about the first point of contact between your Legal Department and your business client. In other words, as Above the Law put it, a matter intake system is “increasingly both the moment of first creation and first communication. We all know the cliché about first impressions. They mean everything, right?”
The article continued: “Legal tech now exists to ensure that you’re taking control of your first impressions through enhanced matter intake … Having an innovative, new client-facing platform will also make you look way more professional in the eyes of the increasingly technologized workforce.”
The author was speaking to law firms, but the sentiment may ring even more true for Legal Departments, whose Legal Intake system may be little more than an Excel spreadsheet (or exist purely in the head of the attorney who triages the requests).
For the half of Legal Departments who say they do not enjoy a high profile within their organizations, nailing a few customer service fundamentals like Legal Intake can go a long way toward improving the internal reputation, improving relationships with business clients and earning a seat at the proverbial table.
Why Legal Intake Matters – From the Inside
For your clients, Legal Intake is the first impression; for your Legal Department, Legal Intake is the first step. By starting each matter the right way, you can:
- Save time. You can eliminate unnecessary work by confirming the issue at hand truly warrants Legal Department involvement, and by collecting all of the relevant information upfront, you don’t have to go back-and-forth with the business client just to get the basics.
- Lower stress. Low-tech or high-tech, a smart Intake system should complement your matter management system so you have easy access to “who’s doing what” visibility and a firm handle on your Legal Department’s deadlines.
- Improve your performance. A strategic approach to Intake will ensure you have the right resource (generalist, subject-matter expert, et cetera) for each matter – not just who answers the phone.
The good news: It doesn’t require a painful overhaul. Indeed, a few deliberate steps can transform your Intake process from the emergency hotline to an efficient ticketing system. Our newest white paper, 12 Steps to Smarter Legal Intake, will help you get started, with recommendations for Beginner-, Intermediate- and Advanced-level improvements.
Up next in Legal Intake & Triage: Communication and Client Satisfaction.