As an attorney, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Your prospective clients need help. If they don’t think you can provide it, they will go to someone else. With this in mind, you need to make sure your intake meetings go well, and this starts with seeing the meeting from the client’s point of view.
What are their questions and concerns? How can you best address them to ensure they choose you as their representation? Here are five thoughts your clients are (probably) having during your intake meetings:
All clients want and need, to know if they have a case worth pursuing. If so, they want to get started in order to collect the money they deserve as quickly as possible. If not, they need a straight answer in order to move on.
While you may not have these specific answers early on, you can provide insights. Instead of saying that you have no way of knowing at this stage, explain to your client why this is. Tell them what information you will need to collect to provide an accurate assessment of their legal rights.
If they are unable to provide enough information or you already know their case is a dud, take the time to explain why. This will leave a positive mark. Remember, you are always marketing yourself and your firm to potential future clients. They may not have a winning case this time, but they have friends and family that might need your services one day. Behind every client, there is always a personal network of potential ones.
Prospective clients also want to know when they can expect their case to be over. Again, this question does not have a straightforward answer, but you should not be evasive. Instead, explain the factors that determine whether a case will settle or go to trial and provide approximate timeframes based on your experience in prior cases. Taking this extra time will not only showcase your knowledge and experience, but it will also confirm that you care about this individual and their case.
In addition to the potential outcomes and timeframes, prospective clients also want to know what they can expect while their claims are pending. This is where you can really set your firm apart from others in your area. Explain your firm’s process in detail, discuss your commitment to client communication, start building a rapport, and make the prospect feel like his or her case will be your firm’s top priority. Again, we’re always marketing for future business and referrals.
Clients often have to share personal and private information. They will want to know who will be answering the phone when they call. If you do not answer your phone personally (which is common), be open about how your firm responds to clients’ calls. Consider introducing the prospect to the other members of your firm with whom they will be interacting. It is important to make a client feel comfortable, especially when the case matters are sensitive which they often are.
Ultimately, prospective clients want to feel confident in their choice of legal representation. Most people do not want to shop around. Once you have an intake meeting scheduled, the prospect is yours to lose. Do not evade their questions or underestimate their ability to understand complicated answers and legal processes. Take the time to make them feel comfortable, thoughtfully address their questions and concerns, and make it clear that you will do everything you can to help them recover.