During the initial client meeting, the lawyer gathers pertinent information for the case.  How this is done will vary.  Some lawyers provide the client a questionnaire to complete in advance.  Others will have administrative personnel meet with the client to acquire the information.  While these methods are efficient and do not infringe on the lawyer’s time, there is good reason why the lawyer should be involved in the intake process.

Ensure accurate recording of all critical information

First, taking the information directly from the client ensures that critical details will not be missed and information is recorded accurately.  In assessing whether the lawyer should take the case, it is obvious that the devil is in the details.  The lawyer needs to understand the particulars of the matter, and if he or she is involved in the initial intake, there is the opportunity to ask the necessary questions to elicit the information important to know about the case and whether the client is a good fit.

Provide the client a sense of security and that you’re invested

Second, having the lawyer involved in the client intake will give the client the sense that the lawyer really cares about the matter.  Clients want to know that the lawyer is truly invested in their case and cares about the outcome.  If the lawyer is not eager to understand the nuances of the matter from inception, then the client may rightly feel slighted or that their situation is not important enough for the lawyer to care.

Allow clients to ask questions that can improve their case

Finally, having the lawyer involved in the client intake gives the client the chance to ask questions about the legal process and case strategy.  Most clients don’t know what information is most important for their matter and may not understand why the lawyer is seeking to learn about certain details. When the lawyer is involved in the intake process, the client has the chance to understand what is critical to bolster their case. There is a necessary give and take between the lawyer and client that makes the process very productive.

Lawyers can streamline the legal intake process by having a questionnaire ready to review with the client and explaining the intake process at the outset of the initial meeting, letting the client know that there will be plenty of time for the client to ask all of their questions.  This gives the client the comfort in knowing that their concerns will be addressed and allows them to focus on providing the information critical for the lawyer to know about their case.

While the intake process can sometimes feel like drudgery, it is actually a crucial part of the case analysis.  It is a time for the lawyer to be fully engaged so that there can be a fair and accurate determination of whether there is a good fit, that is, whether the lawyer is the right one for the case and the case is the right one for the lawyer.  It also sets the tone for a productive and successful working relationship between the lawyer and the client.