Two Track Mind: Post-COVID Law Practice Will Require Both Intake Pathways

Convenience is the driving factor for consumer decision-making in the modern economy. For law firms that want to compete, delivering an intake program that respects the emphasis consumers place on convenience is essential. Oftentimes, convenience is driven by systems, which must rely on consistency and speed. Not only do law firm systems provide a hedge against malpractice (checklists limit mistakes), but the application of systems also provides for a more consistent (and improved) experience for both leads and clients. Systems also yield data, including information about which interaction options legal consumers prefer, when and how. And, the first step in analyzing data is collecting it in the first place. Using data analytics in law practice allows law firms to make better business management decisions So, if you can focus on consistently supplying convenient options to your customers, through pre-built systems that yield the data that will allow you make the best decisions about client interactions, well that’s just the kind of business cycle the best law firm managers employ.

In this first part of a three-part blog post series, we’ll take a look at building a two-track intake system.

As vaccine distribution continues apace across the United States, everyone will reacquire some freedom of movement, making regular in-person meetings and events possible again. What the reaction to that reopening of society and the economy will be is anyone’s guess. Are we heading toward the Roaring 20s 2.0, during which everybody is going to be wildin’ out, because they’re able to leave their homes again? Or, will people continue to exercise caution for an extended period of time? The answer is probably ‘yes’. And, the truth is that there will be many different reactions to the ending of the coronavirus pandemic, and various levels of comfort with respect to reengaging traditional in-person transactions.

When the pandemic began, it was, for lawyers, a referendum on virtual practice. The main question, then, was whether a law firm was able to run in a completely digital environment, transacting business without seeing anyone live. For many law firms, it was (and still is) a challenge to make that shift actually happen; and, even as law firms were categorized as ‘essential businesses’ that could remain open in many states, it was also true that many lawyers didn’t feel comfortable coming into the office — and, many of their clients felt the same way.

Now, as the pandemic begins to subside, the pop quiz is rewritten, in the reverse. So, after more than a year of social isolation, how’s your in-person intake system looking?

For many law firm owners, though, the question of the quality of either in-person or online intake is a resounding ‘meh’. The majority of law firms don’t utilize a cognizable, or reliable, intake program; instead, they’re winging it, and if you catch them on the right way, they might look like they’re providing competent customer service. Certainly, that’s not a ringing endorsement.

But, the end of the coronavirus pandemic, like the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, is a unique opportunity for law firms to revise their intake procedures. Since everyone will react slightly differently to this new world we’re all about to enter, it will be essential for law firms to create fully-systematized intake programs, for both those potential clients who want to interact completely online, as well as for those who require in-person service. 

The convenience economy, in which we’re now all inextricably wrapped, means that businesses must endeavor to make it easy for potential customers to access services in the ways they want. Amazon succeeds because it brings the store to your front porch; Netflix succeeds because it brings the movie theater to your living room. Law firms have not traditionally utilized the same operating thesis; attorneys have always asked clients, more or less, to come to them. But now, both pathways will be required.

Over the next 6-9 months, as pandemic-related measures consistently come off the board, it will be an excellent opportunity for law firms to optimize the virtual intake programs they’ve been developing over the last year, while also inviting them to critically reassess the traditional intake pathways they almost exclusively employed before that.

Frankly, the bar for innovation in law firms is really low. Instead of just trying to reach it, endeavor to smash it. Create a dual track intake system that will work flawlessly in the next new normal.

Jared D. Correia, Esq. is the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting services for law firms, bar associations and corporations. Jared is also the COO of Gideon Software, Inc., which offers intelligent messaging and predictive analytics software built exclusively for law firms. A former practicing attorney, Jared has been providing services to lawyers and law firms for over a decade. He is a regular presenter at local, regional and national events, including ABA TECHSHOW. He regularly contributes to legal publications ‘Attorney at Work,’ ‘Lawyerist’ and ‘Above the Law.’ Jared is the host of the award-winning Legal Toolkit podcast on Legal Talk Network. Jared also teaches for Concord Law School, Suffolk University Law School, Solo Practice University and Becker College. 
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