It may not be the stuff of compelling legal thrillers, but legal intake and triage truly is of paramount concern for in-house Legal Departments. Done wrong, it can lead to fumbled projects, duplicated efforts and/or an overwhelming pipeline. Done right, the benefits of legal intake and triage can be huge. It can set up each legal matter for success and can make matter management easy and simple.
In this blog, we will address the ins and outs and the benefits of legal intake and triage – and how a few adjustments to the legal intake process can improve your legal 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 in-house Legal Department and your business client. In other words, as Above the Law put it, a legal matter intake software 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: “LegalTech now exists to ensure that you’re taking control of your first impressions through enhanced legal matter intake… Having an innovative, new client-facing system 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 in-house legal teams, whose Legal Intake solution 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 the legal intake process can go a long way toward:
- Improving the internal reputation of the Legal Department
- Improving relationships with business clients
- 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 in-house legal team, Legal Intake is the first step. By starting each matter the right way, you can:
1. Save time
You can eliminate unnecessary work by confirming the issue at hand truly warrants corporate 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.
2. Lower stress
Low-tech or high-tech, a smart legal department Intake system should complement your legal matter management system so you have easy access to “who’s doing what” visibility and a firm handle on your Legal Department’s deadlines.
3. 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 benefits of legal intake – streamlining the end-to-end legal intake process
One of the most important metrics for an impactful corporate legal department is turnaround time: how quickly did the in-house legal team return work to the business? The legal intake and triage process is essential for smoothing one of the most critical stages in a matter lifecycle and helping to reduce overall turnaround time.
Some of the benefits of legal intake include:
1. Complete instructions the first time
This doesn’t just save time for the in-house corporate Legal Department (see above). All stakeholders benefit – both legally and commercially – from being funnelled through a process to ensure the important questions are answered from the beginning, and not with a just-in-time approach as a matter reaches its conclusion.
2. Find the right resource faster
Pointing new matter intake requests to a specific expert or legal resource will ensure the right people are at the (metaphorical) decision making table for every legal question. Legal matters will get resolved faster – it’s as simple as that.
3. Speed up the drafting process
If you are using any sort of automated legal document assembly tool (e.g. Auto-Docs), you can leverage legal intake to completely remove the first draft stage of legal document preparation. Remove this stage altogether, and you save chunks of time off even very simple legal matters before you can start the actual legal work:
- find legal template
- save as (insert naming convention)
- type in all the party names, addresses, execution clauses, key dates
- and so on…
Download our legal intake & triage white paper to get started
The good news: It doesn’t require a painful overhaul. A few deliberate steps can transform your legal matter intake process from the emergency hotline to an efficient ticketing system.
Our white paper, 12 Steps to Smarter Legal Intake, will help you get started, with recommendations for Beginner-, Intermediate- and Advanced-level improvements. If you would like to find out how our legal software for in house legal teams can help you manage incoming requests, speak to the team today and book a demo.