We’ll state it simply: making your legal website compliant with the requirements of The Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) is critical. It’s important for actual accessibility, it’s important for human dignity, and it’s important for legal reasons. You care about your law firm’s clients and potential clients. Ensuring that your law firm’s website is ADA compliant is another way to show that you care.

In this blog, we’ll cover the basics of the ADA and ADA compliance. We’ll also dive into how to make your law firm website accessible and why, above all, accessibility matters and should be strived for. Let’s get moving!

What is the ADA? What is ADA compliance?

The ADA is a federal law enacted in 1990. Its chief aim is to end discrimination based on differing abilities and it requires organizations to provide certain “reasonable accommodations” to folks with disabilities. For the physical world, this means wheelchair-accessible ramps and entryways, elevators, and other equal-access accommodations. For the world of the internet, it means something else, and that meaning is still evolving and changing.

The text of the ADA (even as amended) does not explicitly address website or online compliance. Because of this, it has fallen to the courts to determine how the ADA applies to websites. The courts have looked to Title III of the ADA, which requires that every owner, lessor, or operator of a “place of public accommodation” provide equal access to users who meet the ADA’s standards for disability. Many courts have ruled that commercial websites (like your law firm’s) are “places of public accommodation” and therefore are subject to the requirements of the ADA. Other courts have ruled using different reasoning, but have arrived at the same conclusion: websites must be accessible. The Department of Justice (the DOJ) supports the reading that websites are “places of public accommodation” and thus websites must be ADA compliant.

What this means is that your law firm’s website must achieve certain levels of accessibility as defined under the ADA. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of accessibility and accommodation under the ADA below, but we also want to note that absent legal enforcement, ensuring that your law firm’s website is accessible is important. It shows clients and prospective clients that you treat everyone with dignity, that your law firm is committed to equity, and that all are welcome. Making your law firm’s website ADA compliant is good for everyone.

What makes a website ADA compliant?

In guidance on web accessibility and the ADA published in 2022, the DOJ states that it requires public accommodations to ensure websites are accessible per the ADA requirement of “general nondiscrimination and effective communication provisions.” The DOJ does not specify any explicit website accessibility standard; however, the DOJ does and has made it clear that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are helpful guidance for companies to reference when making their own websites ADA compliant. The current golden standard is WCAG 2.0.

What is the WCAG?

Good question! At its most basic, WCAG is a series of guidelines that provide information about website accessibility. The guidelines give website owners clear instructions on how to make their website accessible to folks of all abilities. The WCAG standards have over ten guidelines and those guidelines are organized into four major principles which lay the foundation necessary for anyone to access and use web content.

Let’s get into the details! When thinking about your law firm’s website and the WCAG guidelines, think about the following:

In sum, your law firm has some flexibility in how it complies with the nondiscrimination and accessibility requirements of the ADA. What’s important is ensuring that your law firm’s website offers actual accessibility.

What are some tips for making my legal website ADA compliant?

Achieving ADA compliance for your law firm’s website means taking a step back and looking at what real accessibility looks like. Start by taking stock of your current website and reviewing the WCAG’s guidance. The WCAG guidelines seem complex at first, but when broken down into digestible bits, they are easily implemented. We recommend beginning by considering the following:

Written content. When creating written content for your law firm’s website, think about how that content can be made accessible for folks with disabilities. To help those users who use screen readers or other visual aids, focus on structure and be sure to use proper heading tags—meaning, use the H1 function in lieu of just making the font larger and follow the H1, H2, H3, etc. hierarchy. It’s also just best practice to use bulleted lists, shorter paragraphs, and summary sections for easy scanning. By enhancing readability, you enhance accessibility.

Visual and audio content. Making your legal website accessible means making your design better for everyone. If your content creation and marketing strategies involve video webinars, be sure to include subtitles, provide transcripts, and also provide audio descriptions (e.g., a speech version of a descriptive transcript). Visually impaired users oftentimes use screen readers to engage with online content.

For screen readers to work, the images on your website must have alt text, which is a short text that describes the image. By doing this, you’ll give all users the ability to fully engage with your law firm’s website (and the excellent content you’ve created). Similarly, avoid using charts or graphs that rely solely on color as the differentiator and instead opt for patterns, fills, or borders to communicate. Pay attention to color contrast and font choice on your website, too.

Website design. Website design accessibility means different things, but it all comes down to thoughtfulness and real accessibility. It’s important to evaluate your law firm’s website design and navigation functionality. Keyboard navigation is important for those folks with visual and motor disabilities. People who use screen readers or cannot use a mouse should still be able to access your website, so make sure that users can tab through all navigational elements using keyboard navigation. For example, consider using specific keyboard keys such as Shift+Tab and the Enter key for specific purposes on your website to provide ease of navigation. Be sure that your website’s navigation menu is consistent across all pages!

Form and table labels are also important. Make sure that each form field has a clear label. Additionally, consider adding an accessibility interface to your website, which will allow visitors to adjust your site’s design and user elements to fit their individual needs. You can find an example of what that looks like here by clicking the tab that appears on the right side of the website. By providing an easy option for larger text, contrast, and thoughtful use of colors, you allow everyone to engage with your law firm’s website (and get what makes your firm so unique).

Lastly, for website design, make sure that your call to action (CTA) buttons are accessible. The CTAs featured on your law firm’s website should have an accessible name, which is usually the text on the button itself. We recommend using an aria-label for each CTA to give screen readers the right information.

To ensure real accessibility (and to take some pressure off of your internal team), we highly recommend working with an expert who can help your law firm create a website that is ADA compliant and accessible for all.

How can you avoid legal measures being taken against your law firm’s website?

This one is simple—make sure that your law firm’s website is ADA compliant. If it isn’t, you might find yourself party to a lawsuit. Since 2013, the employment law-focused law firm Seyfarth Shaw has tracked the number of lawsuits filed under the ADA each year. Their data is striking and indicates that more than 11,400 people filed an ADA Title III lawsuit in 2021—a 320 percent increase since 2013. In the year 2020, more than 2,500 lawsuits were filed in federal court claiming online websites were not designed to be accessible to folks with disabilities, in violation of Title III of the ADA. More than 11,400 people filed an ADA website-related lawsuit in 2021, a 320% increase from previous years. This year, hundreds of thousands of business owners will receive demand letters for inaccessible websites. 93% of those demand letters will be settled for $20,000 - $150,000.

What all of this data means is that people are paying attention, and rightfully so. Equal access to the internet is a major concern and is likely to remain that way. So, make sure that your law firm abides by WCAG accessibility standards. We’ll reiterate that you should start by addressing the following (which the DOJ lists as examples of common accessibility barriers):

Getting your law firm’s website in tip-top shape and ADA compliant is the only way to avoid accessibility lawsuits, negative publicity, and most importantly, provide an accessible user experience to everyone. Start by working with the right experts who can help your law firm build an accessible (and interesting) website.

Why is having an accessible lawyer website important?

It’s important because everyone is important. First and foremost is the issue of equal access and human integrity. By designing, maintaining, and updating your law firm’s website to be accessible, you put your money where your mouth is as a lawyer dedicated to justice. You also show prospective and current clients that you pay attention and care.

Second is that, as discussed throughout this article, it’s required by law and enforced by the DOJ. Without an ADA compliant website, your law firm may be subject to a lawsuit and hefty fines (and the accompanying bad publicity).

Last is that it’s just good for business. By having an ADA compliant website, you’ll have more traffic. It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of the U.S. population has a disability. By providing a website and user experience that supports all abilities, your law firm will be seen by more people and have greater odds of landing leads. This is especially true if your law firm specializes in a practice area that supports those with disabilities. Good business sense dictates that you have an accessible website; and human decency does the same.

Design an ADA-compliant website today

Your law firm’s website should and must be ADA compliant. Getting there is a journey, but we promise you that it’s worth it—both to avoid lawsuits and help as many people as possible.

Before you begin designing or re-vamping your law firm’s website, consider the basics outlined in this article. And, if you have any questions or decide that you’re in over your head, website design experts are ready to assist you.




Do you want to promote greater team synergy and harmony? What about higher productivity and a friendlier workplace? Then you need to retain your employees.  

Employee turnover is almost always negative. Losing employees requires you to invest significant amounts of time and resources in advertising, recruiting, onboarding, and training, all of which are nonbillable. Employee turnover also means disruption to caseloads and more work for other lawyers and staff while your law firm tries to hire a replacement, which can hurt morale and — you guessed it — lead to more turnover. 

In short, you want to avoid turnover like the plague. 

To keep your law firm humming, it’s essential that your firm retain your lawyers and staff. The best way to retain your employees is to support them. Sometimes that means paying them more. But there are also a lot of other important components to ensuring your employees feel valued.  

In this article, we’ll discuss law firm employee retention trends and what your law firm can do to make sure it stays on the right side of them.   

Why is employee retention constantly making headlines?  

Employee retention is a hot topic because of the current market. Economic forces have led to a buyer’s market. The tides have shifted, and employees are left holding the cards. A 2021 McKinsey study found that more than half of employers are experiencing lower-than-normal employee retention rates. In November 2021 alone, roughly 4.5 million U.S. workers voluntarily left their places of employment. Recruiting firm Major, Lindsey and Africa and Above the Law found that a third of junior lawyers do not plan to stay with their law firms beyond five years. Many younger lawyers don’t see careers in law firms, much less aspire to make partner.  

All of this adds up to a lot of buzz, and the buzz is important. You need to pay attention to the hiring and retention trends in the market. To keep your law firm intact and thriving, you need to prioritize employee retention and minimize turnover. Let’s get into some ways to do that.  

What are the main issues that tend to push employees to leave law firms or look elsewhere for employment?  

A variety of factors create an environment that damages employee morale and encourages them to leave law firms. Here’s a look at some of the most common. 

A lack of flexibility  

The practice of law hews closely to tradition. That means many things, including coming into the office and slogging away for hours on end. 

That tradition doesn’t sit well with younger generations. And forcing employees to come into the office today for a nine-to-five when they have technology at their fingertips that allows them to work anywhere and anytime isn’t going to build goodwill with staff or associates. 

A lack of upward mobility  

Firms need to rethink the meaning of “advancement.” The traditional law firm follows an up-or-out model. Either you stay and make partner, or you move on.  

That type of career ladder isn’t what many younger employees are looking for. They don’t have the same career aspirations as the partners in your firm did. They may be interested in other leadership or business opportunities with your firm, such as operations or marketing roles. Or they may be happy to serve as counsel rather than as a partner. A better approach to employee advancement is to think of it as a lattice, which offers more routes to advancement than just a single way up. 

A lack of diversity and inclusion 

The highest levels of law firm leadership tend to be white and male. Women and people of color are increasing in the associate and partner ranks, but they still lag behind. Women were 26% of all partners in 2021, but only slightly more than 4% were women of color. Black and Latinx women are less than 1% of all partners. The statistics for equity partnership are even bleaker: 22% of equity partners were women, while only 9% were people of color.  

This lack of inclusion creates a gap in leadership pipelines. When employees don’t see an opportunity in a firm to advance, they’re more likely to leave. And if that inability to advance is rooted in metrics that discriminate against marginalized groups or unconscious biases, that firm is likely to get a bad reputation. No one wants to work for a firm where they can’t see themselves reflected in the leadership ranks. 

What factors help law firms retain employees?  

The best way to retain your employees is to pay them competitively and to support their growth. We understand it’s a delicate balance between considering your own bottom line and paying lawyers and staff, but compensating your firm’s employees adequately is money well spent. Creating a healthy and collegial law firm culture is another way to get employees to stick around. People want to be where they are valued and supported. 

Compensation: Salary and benefits 

In law firms, retention is often all about the Benjamins. The foundation for employee satisfaction is competitive salaries and benefits packages. By paying your legal team and staff market rates, your law firm directly shows them their value and worth. A higher salary means higher retention rates and thus less training of new associates and less turnover of client contacts. It also means your people won’t be lured as easily to the law firm across the street. 

Importantly, valuing your attorneys and staff also includes promoting internal pay equity. The gender pay gap is real, and that gap is even larger for women of color. Your firm can both promote internal and external equity and look out for its own bottom line by offering all employees fair and competitive packages.  

By paying your employees fairly and re-evaluating their compensation regularly and objectively, your firm will show in the numbers that it values its workforce. If you aren’t willing to pay what your team is worth in the market, your firm is likely to lose employees and staff. You’re also likely to struggle if you need to hire replacements.  

Of course, if you get into a salary tug-of-war with your competition, you’ll eventually run out of cash. Increases are only sustainable to a point. That’s why you’ll need to focus on improving your law firm’s culture and support for employees as well. 

Value and support 

The McKinsey study that we mentioned above also asked employees why they quit their jobs. The top three factors cited were that the employees didn’t feel valued by their organizations (54 percent) or their managers (52 percent) or because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work (51 percent).  

Understanding the term “valued” goes beyond compensation and benefits and into something more humanistic. All employees, regardless of their level, want to feel that their contributions are noted and appreciated. They want to be understood and treated like human beings. For employers, and especially law firms, this means both giving credit where it’s due and allowing employees flexibility based on their individual circumstances.  

When it comes to giving credit, recognition goes a long way! If an associate ran point on a multimillion-dollar acquisition, give them a shoutout at the next team meeting or in the firm newsletter. If a paralegal recently helped on a big case, it’s appropriate to do the same. Letting your lawyers and staff know that you notice their hard work is important to employee satisfaction. It shows that you’re paying attention and that you see their dedication.  

Another tangible way to show employees that they are valued is to offer them individual flexibility. The COVID-19 pandemic taught us many things about office life, including that brick and mortar isn’t for everyone. We also learned that many people can be just as productive (possibly even more productive) working from home.  

By offering flexible work arrangements, including work-from-home options, your firm can easily support its lawyers and staff and make them feel valued. This also includes flexible arrangements for new parents or employees who might need to work remotely to care for an aging family member. Valuing your lawyers means supporting them when they need it. You’ll reap the benefits of increased productivity and higher-quality work. 

Balance and opportunities for growth 

The term work-life balance gets thrown around a lot in the legal world. It means different things to different people and varies based on a host of factors, like seniority. For example, younger lawyers in particular are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, and this dissatisfaction is the top reason that millennial attorneys might start looking for another job.  

What remains constant for all lawyers is the desire to not burn out. While burnout depends on a host of individual factors, your firm can implement systems to ensure that your lawyers and staff aren’t being overworked. We recommend monitoring the hours of your individual attorneys and apportioning their workloads accordingly. So, if you note that one associate has been billing 12 hours a day for a week straight, especially over the weekend, she probably could use some additional support. You may need to assign another associate to a matter or reallocate some of her workload. The same goes for your paralegal who has worked three weekends in a row. It’s probably time to assign another paralegal to the matter. By monitoring workloads, you take some of the burden off of your attorneys and staff to establish hard boundaries, which can be difficult to do. It also shows that you care, which employees notice.  

Helping your attorneys and staff grow professionally is another component of employee retention. Constructive feedback and positive encouragement are important. This proves especially true for junior lawyers and new staff members. By providing personalized feedback and having one-on-one meetings (and not just waiting for the dreaded end-of-year performance reviews), your lawyers and staff will feel supported in their learning. They’ll also believe that there’s a path forward for them in the firm. You may also want to build a greater sense of community by offering structured mentorships between senior and junior lawyers. 

Formal learning opportunities are also essential. Incorporate opportunities for continuing legal education (CLE) sessions and conferences in your learning and development budget. Additionally, to encourage development, ask what your lawyers are most interested in learning about. This gives junior lawyers and other new employees the ability to shape their careers. If your lawyers and staff feel like they have a say in what they’re learning, they’ll feel more excited to invest in their growth. More investment in learning means better work for your clients — and more satisfied clients mean more income for your firm.  

What are some strategies to help with employee retention?  

We’ve discussed them throughout this article, but we want to double down on the fact that you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a positive law firm culture. Your firm’s culture is a manifestation of its core values. Respect, collegiality, and equity should be at the heart of your firm. A supportive law firm culture will foster high-level thinking, which means better solutions for your clients. Prospective clients can also tell when a law firm is working well together and when working conditions are suboptimal. This is good for your people, good for your firm, and good for your bottom line.  

We’ll also note the importance of communication for retaining employees. Openness is key! Your law firm should prioritize transparency such that lawyers and staff feel empowered to communicate with firm management on all topics. This includes more serious topics like compensation, discrimination, workloads, and balance. A culture of open communication also enables your team to share creative ideas for business development or innovative CLEs and conferences.  

Be sure that your law firm follows through. Open communication without results is just lip service. So, if you know that an employee is struggling, help them. If an associate has a great idea, listen and then help them achieve it. Similarly, if you want to know how employees are doing and what you can do to better support them — just ask! Communication is a two-way street.  

Retain your employees and grow your law firm.

As the war for talent rages on, your firm needs a strategy to retain your lawyers and staff. By ensuring that you have the processes and structures that enable your firm to value your employees in meaningful ways, not just through compensation, your law firm can hold on to your most valuable resource: your people. 


Breaking up is hard to do — we all know this. And while any divorce or separation can be painful, the stakes are higher when children are involved. Having a parenting plan in place can help with both logistics and healing and, most importantly, ensure that the best interests of your children are kept at the forefront. Stability is important, and a well-drafted parenting plan can help any family achieve it.

In this article, we’ll cover all aspects of parenting plans, from what you should include to how to avoid common pitfalls to specific state law requirements. A good parenting plan will help you and your co-parent navigate new waters and ensure that your children are cared for.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is just that — a plan for parenting children. Generally, a parenting plan is drafted and put into place in connection with divorce, separation, annulment, or child custody disputes. Parenting plans are sometimes referred to as parenting agreements, custody agreements, or co-parenting plans, and they may or may not be required by a court.

Essentially, a parenting plan is an agreement between parents that outlines the schedule, duties, and responsibilities of each parent. The agreement may contain specific information regarding guardianship, and if there are other parties involved, such as stepparents or grandparents, the parenting plan will likely also cover their rights and role in the child’s life. A parenting plan is drafted by the parents, the attorneys involved in the dispute, or the court itself, and the plan may be created even if not required by the state.

By having a parenting plan in place, you can reduce conflict and friction by setting clear guidelines and expectations of your former partner while also understanding what is expected of you. Parenting plans benefit both parents and children alike, and drafting a good one is important to creating a harmonious co-parenting situation.

What should a parenting plan include?

What is a good parenting plan for one family will be deficient for another, which is to say, it depends. The best parenting plan is one that is specific to your situation. However, there are general components that should be included in all parenting plans. The key is specificity.

Parent and child information

Your parenting plan must include the general information of the parties involved. This includes the names, contact information, and phone numbers of each parent and the names and birthdates of all children.

Legal and physical custody

Legal and physical child custody are perhaps the most important (and contentious) components of a parenting plan. However, it is important that the specifics regarding custody of the child be laid out clearly and agreed to within the arrangement. There are several custody options available:

Custody or visitation schedule

A custody or visitation schedule sets forth when each parent will have parenting time with the child. The specifics of this parenting time schedule will be based upon which legal and physical custody arrangement you and your former partner have settled on. When building this schedule, consider how visitation might work for the non-custodial parent. What will the details of your holiday schedule be? How will birthdays be spent? New Year’s Eve? What about school breaks? Shorter breaks, such as Labor Day or Memorial Day? While some of these things might seem minor, ironing them out in your parenting plan now might help you to avoid conflict later.

Duties and responsibilities

Along with determining your custody or visitation schedule comes establishing the duties and responsibilities of each parent. It’s important to outline each parent’s rights to see their children during day-to-day activities. Do both parents have the right to attend the child’s extracurricular activities? What about pick up from the children’s school, daycare, or childcare on transfer days? Your proposed parenting plan should also state clearly in which situations a parent is required to contact the other, such as in the case of a mental health crisis.

Child support and expenses

Your parenting plan should also detail how you’ll split expenses related to the child. Will one parent provide child support? Who will pay for health insurance or health care? What about private schools? Who will claim the child as a dependent on their taxes? Your parenting plan should lay all of this out clearly and carefully to avoid future contention and to ensure that your child is properly financially supported.

Other specifics

Because your family is unique, you’ll also need to include details specific to your family in your parenting plan. Consider any particular day-to-day decisions that might need to be made as well as anything in connection with special occasions. Maybe spending Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, or Diwali with your children is particularly important to you. If that’s the case, have it in the plan. Further, if you are separating from a partner because of domestic violence, that is something that should also be addressed in the parenting plan with specificity.

While all of this may seem overwhelming, particularly in the wake of a divorce or separation, the most important thing to keep in mind when writing your parenting plan is your child’s well-being. It’s a balancing act between specificity and flexibility.

What about writing a parenting plan for family court?

The parenting plan that you write specifically for a court should contain all of the core elements discussed above. In fact, in many states, courts prefer that parents submit their own detailed parenting plan (as opposed to having the court order a specific arrangement) because they understand best what their children need.

Typically, you and your former partner will come up with your parenting plan either outside of court or during formal court proceedings. If you are able to come to an agreement outside of court, generally you will present your parenting plan to the court for the judge’s approval. If approved by the court (pending any specific state law concerns (as discussed below)), your parenting plan will become enforceable by law. A parenting plan that is informal, not in writing, and not approved by a court may not be enforceable.

In the situation where parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, the court may issue a plan for them. To the extent possible, it’s best to avoid a court-ordered parenting arrangement because, as discussed throughout this article, you, as a parent, are in the best position to determine what arrangement will work best for your family. Alternatively, a court may allow each parent to present their own plan. The judge will then listen to each plan and pick one (likely with adjustments). If only one parent presents a plan, it’s likely that the court will adopt that plan. So it’s important to develop your own parenting plan and to do so thoughtfully.

Though it will vary from state to state and judge by judge, when assessing a parenting plan, courts will typically consider the following factors:

You may want to consult a family law lawyer to help you draft your parenting plan, particularly if your divorce or separation has been contentious. There are specific state law concerns that you may want legal advice on, and a law firm will be able to help you. Alternatively, many parents find it helpful to use a parenting plan template or worksheet, many of which are available online. These resources allow you to customize your parenting plan to cover what is most important to you and your family.

The more harmonious and detailed your parenting plan, the smoother co-parenting will go for you and your former partner. Court wants to see how your parenting plan will create a stable and loving environment for your children.

What mistakes should be avoided when writing a parenting plan?

Your parenting plan is about your children. One of the biggest mistakes parents make when determining their plan is to put their own needs ahead of their children’s. As discussed throughout this article, the best parenting plan is one that is agreed to by both parents and focused on the best interests of the child.

Other common mistakes include creating a parenting plan that is too vague. This generally leads to disharmony between co-parents and the need for regular day-to-day negotiation, which isn’t fun for anyone. The terms of the parenting agreement should be laid out clearly and specifically. Specifics that are regularly left out include forgetting to specify what happens when one parent wants to relocate and failing to include specifics on tax deduction issues.

Additionally, there should be a provision about how to handle changes to the parenting plan. As time passes and your children grow older, it’s inevitable that revisions will need to be made. Make sure that you follow the proper legal process as set forth in your parenting agreement for these changes—doing so will only protect you.

Do parenting plans differ from state to state?

Though there are specific laws that differ state by state, the core elements of your parenting plan will remain the same regardless of the state in which it’s drafted or enforced. You will always want your parenting plan to be specific, clearly drafted, and legally enforceable. However, the way in which it is drafted and becomes legally enforceable will differ in each state.

Some states require that specific information be included in a parenting plan. For example, in Arizona, a joint legal custody agreement requires that a written parenting plan include a way to resolve conflicts about custody and parenting time; additionally, Arizona also requires that certain language stating that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time to be included in the parenting plan. Further, many states require that a parenting plan be signed before a witness or notary public to be enforceable, while others do not.

The key is knowing and following your specific state custody guideline when drafting your parenting plan. If you and the other parents live in different states, this gets a bit murkier, and it’s likely to your benefit to consult a family law lawyer. You can use this resource to start considering more specifics.

Protect your peace of mind

Divorce and separation are hard. By drafting and implementing a well-thought-out and complete parenting plan now, you’ll protect your peace of mind later. Remember what’s most important during the process, and be sure to take advantage of all resources available to you. This is an opportunity to start defining your new family.

The Pareto Principle is the theory that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. This principle applies to client retention, meaning that 80% of a law firm’s revenue comes from just 20% of its clients.

This principle is incredibly powerful for law firms that want to use minimal resources to maximize their profits. By focusing on retaining and improving the client experience for the top 20% of your current clients, you can significantly increase your revenue and grow your law firm.

One way to start the client experience off on the right foot is to offer a new client welcome kit.

What is a new client welcome kit?

A new client welcome kit is a collection of documents that you give to new clients after the intake process or initial consultation. The welcome kit introduces the client to the law firm and its employees, provides practical and necessary information for reference throughout the case (like billing processes and key contacts), and sets the client’s expectations for the representation.

What should a client welcome kit contain?

Client welcome kits will look different depending on your law firm’s practice area. Some law offices create a physical welcome kit, while others prefer the ease of an electronic version. Either way, the kit should include, at a minimum, the following six items.

Administrative information

Your welcome package should include a billing document outlining your fee schedule and expenses, invoicing and billing practices (such as whether you accept credit cards), and the signed retainer or engagement letter. It should also include an introduction to the client portal, plus instructions on how your client can use it, and a list of the common questions that a typical client has.

Case synopsis

A short document summarizing the client’s legal matters and the legal services that you plan to offer goes a long way. It shows your client that you were listening to them and planning to meet their needs and should include details beyond those in a standard retainer agreement.

Key contacts and bios

It’s a good idea to include a short bio and key contact information for each lawyer, paralegal, and support staff member working on the case. You can also outline the best ways to communicate with each person and list an emergency contact option for after-hours or urgent legal issues.

Summary of the legal process

A clear flowchart describing the different steps in the legal process is a great tool for your client to reference throughout different phases of the representation. This helps keep your client informed every step of the way.

Client responsibility checklist

Lawyers do a lot of work on clients’ behalf, but some responsibilities lie squarely with the client. A concise checklist gives the client an idea upfront of what their responsibilities will look like throughout the case. These may be responsibilities like acquiring and producing documents in a personal injury matter or the timing for making important decisions in an estate planning case.

Personalized welcome letter

We all love automation, but sometimes a personal touch is what you need to show clients that you care. Include a handwritten or digitally personalized welcome letter to thank each client for hiring you.

Is there anything specific a family law firm should include in a client welcome kit?

Unlike other practice areas, family law firms handle similar matters over and over again. The client welcome packet is a great way to focus on the specific nuances of family court cases and prepare clients for the road ahead.

One option is to include an overview document explaining the basics of common family law topics, such as divorce, child custody, or the mediation process. If you create a few different documents for each topic, you can easily include something relevant for new clients.

Discovery is also particularly important in family law cases, but it can be daunting for new clients. Including a specific intake checklist in the welcome packet helps family law clients begin to track down the documents that they need to disclose at some point. This makes discovery go faster and also helps clients manage the process in an organized way.

Why is a new client welcome kit important?

A well-prepared welcome kit builds trust between the new client and the lawyer, which benefits the overall attorney-client relationship.

A welcome kit is an important tool to communicate with the client and one that presents the law firm in an organized and professional manner. A welcome kit can help manage client expectations so that your clients feel satisfied and don’t become overwhelmed. It also serves as a great point of reference for clients throughout the legal process, leading to happier, less-stressed clients who are more likely to hire you again.

Additionally, clients who trust their lawyers and have a past positive experience with a law firm are more likely to rehire and give you referrals. A new client welcome kit starts representation off on the right foot because it signals to the client that their case is important to the law firm. It also gives new clients a sense of transparency about the law firm and legal process.

When clients have realistic expectations, they are less likely to be disappointed in their lawyers. This keeps clients coming back time and time again.

Why is client retention important?

Since 80% of profits are typically made from 20% of clients, retaining that top 20% is essential. Finding new clients is also expensive, so keeping clients on board is a great way to maximize profits and decrease costs.

By spending too much time trying to turn unsatisfied clients into satisfied ones, law firms ignore the happy, easygoing clients who make them money. A better business model is to maximize revenue from happy clients by keeping them on in the future. This doesn’t mean ignoring other clients and their needs but instead using thoughtful business practices that allocate resources to get the most bang for your buck.

Best practices beyond the welcome kit

The welcome kit is a great way to increase client retention, but it’s not the only way. It’s best to use a welcome package in conjunction with other practices designed to create happy clients. Some other tools to increase client retention include streamlining the intake process, implementing easy-to-use legal technology, and generating retention reports to monitor your progress.

When law firms use all of these tools together, they can have a huge impact on client retention. 

While modern technology has changed the way that many lawyers connect with their clients, it hasn’t changed the fact that confidentiality is key when it comes to the attorney-client relationship.

In fact, the American Bar Association (ABA) has addressed the rise of cybersecurity threats (like hacking) with an attorney’s ongoing obligation to safeguard confidential client information and communications. Not only do lawyers need to stay informed about the benefits and limitations of new technology, but they also need to try to prevent unauthorized and inadvertent access to their clients’ information.

So, how can you take advantage of the benefits of modern technology to optimize the client experience at your law practice and maintain your clients’ confidentiality at the same time?

There’s an easy answer: it’s called a client portal.

What is a law firm client portal?

A client portal is cloud-based legal software that creates a secure space for lawyers and clients to connect and share information about their cases while automating administrative tasks. It’s a tool that helps you standardize representation so that you can consistently provide an excellent experience for every client, every time.

In the portal, both the attorney and client can upload, store, and share documents; calendar appointments; set reminders for court dates; send bills and make payments, and communicate easily via chat features and automated text messages. Using a centralized client portal also creates a digital client file that is easily referenced in future court hearings or meetings and ensures that all of the information shared is stored securely away from hackers and accidental exposure.

A client portal is a means to streamline and improve the client experience from beginning to end, to keep client data completely confidential, and to cut down on the overall cost spent on administrative tasks related to managing clients.

Why does your law firm need a client portal?

If you plan on staying competitive in the modern legal world, your law firm needs to start using a client portal to better manage current clients and increase client conversion through automation. You’ll turn more potential clients into actual clients by looking at the data collected by the client portal, and you’ll save money by making your staff’s job easier and faster.

A client portal is one of the easiest ways to get clients coming back for more because, aside from providing valuable analytics, it makes being your client easy. For example, it’s a lot easier for a client to upload standardized intake forms and documents in a secure portal online rather than dealing with encrypting an email to their lawyer or sending confidential information without it. It’s also easier than coming into the office, especially in the era of COVID-19. This makes a better overall client experience and saves time and effort on the part of the lawyer and administrative staff.

Portals also make it easy for clients to communicate with you, and that makes them more likely to have a positive experience. The client portal creates one place to easily send and receive messages to one another 24/7, so they won’t need to call at inconvenient times or leave messages with administrative staff. Plus, lawyers won’t need to give clients their private cell phone numbers. You and your clients can also easily review past conversations to quickly find information and maintain a record for the future.

With a client portal, law firms can streamline workflows, like legal billing and payment, which saves money for the firm. It’s an easy way to send invoices to your client and to receive payments through a secure online system without needing the assistance of staff. Clients can download the bills at any time and send questions directly in the portal instead of calling the office and leaving messages. This leads to happier clients who feel informed about billing and organized at all stages.

A client portal is also a great way to give administrative staff access to all documents and a complete history of a client’s representation. This helps staff in charge of billing, legal operations, and paralegal and investigative work do their job better without needing to go digging around the office and asking questions. A client portal also facilitates remote work, which can cut down on costs associated with office space and keep your entire staff working within one system.

Basically, a client portal doesn’t just make you money because it makes clients happy. It also makes you money by cutting costs and increasing productivity across multiple different areas of the firm.

What features should a client portal have?

The point of the client portal is to optimize the client experience and streamline client management processes around the law firm. With that in mind, a great client portal should have the highest functionality and include the following features:

All of these elements should be included in a professionally designed portal that is customized with law firm logos and colors to create a personalized touch.

Of course, a client portal must be intuitive and helpful, but the most important feature of a client portal (or any legal technology) is reliable security and firewall protection.

Law firms are not immune to data breaches. At the end of the day, lawyers must use due diligence to keep client data, online communications, and shared documents confidential. If they don’t, they might risk breaching their ethical obligations and losing their clients’ trust.

Computers are easily hacked, and cell phones are sometimes lost or stolen. Plus, in the era of remote work, there’s a risk that lawyers and staff might opt to use piecemeal platforms or apps that you haven’t vetted for security. You shouldn’t assume that your email is secure either. Law offices are prime targets for hackers, given the valuable secrets they hold.

That’s why it is more important than ever to shift to a client management model that includes a secure client portal with top-notch protective features, like encryption and two-factor authentication. These protections will safeguard confidential information and store data securely, so you’ll never have to worry about someone stealing your client’s data or taking the hit of a dreaded data breach.

How can a client portal assist with client intake?

There are many ways to upgrade your client intake process, but a client portal is a great first step.

A client portal can streamline client intake and standardize the client’s first experiences with the law firm, so you’re always putting your best foot forward. It’s also a great way to automate administrative tasks and workflows related to intake while boosting productivity among other staff and reducing costs across the board. There’s no reason to rely on outdated client intake practices when you have a client portal to make it easy and cost-effective.

Standardizing intake forms

For example, client portals make it easy to send intake forms for clients to fill out before your first meeting and for clients to enter personal identifying information all in one place. This data is usually populated in a larger system to cut down on data-entry-related tasks around the office. It also minimizes the time that each lawyer or staff member must spend meeting with and gathering information from a client.

Targeting ideal clients

Certain platforms can even track the metrics when it comes to intake, which is great for a legal operations department that works tirelessly to maximize resources and save money. Since intake starts from the moment a potential client reaches out to your firm, you can use the portal to track where potential clients are coming from and customize intake to target your ideal client. You’ll also be able to look at the ROI on your marketing spend over time so that you get a clearer picture of the law firm’s finances.

Automating conflict checks

Let’s not forget that a client portal can automate conflict checks that are usually performed during intake and conveniently generate a report that protects the confidentiality of your clients. Conflict checks can be costly and complicated for legal practices, but the power of computing makes it fast and simple with the right platform. Some even offer the ability to create a “virtual wall” to adjust permissions settings and prevent certain lawyers with a conflict in the office from accessing sensitive information on a particular case. This reduces the risk of accidental exposure and confidentiality breaches among coworkers.

Setting up client portal software

If you’re thinking about incorporating a client portal into your arsenal of practice management software to improve your client service, you should try out a free demo for an introduction to our platform. We’re happy to show you all the features so that you get comfortable with the functionality of our client portal and can see how it will help your law firm become more client-centered and profitable.

Family law clients are in deep conflict. They’re facing some of the most trying situations in their lives, whether it’s a matter of a separation agreement, divorce, alimony or child support dispute, or child custody battle. Their nerves are likely frayed, and they need support and guidance.

So, prospective family law clients probably need a little more hand-holding and care than many other types of clients. Because their issues are so personal, they likely need an empathetic ear. They’d also benefit from a client intake process that eliminates the fear of working on personal matters with a stranger and makes it easy for them to start moving forward.

One way that family law firms can make client intake easier for prospects is to offer a questionnaire that helps prepare clients for the information they need to share, so they can organize their thoughts and documents in advance.

Here’s how an online intake form can help you make the most of the intake process, so you start your attorney-client relationship off on the right foot:

How does an outstanding client experience add value?

Clients create value for any business, including law firms. Since the practice of law is a client-based (and reputation-based) business, law firms need to provide an outstanding client experience from the very beginning.

Keep in mind that your family law clients are likely a source of repeat business. (Let’s hope that their disputes are one-and-done and that they instead help you grow your firm’s revenue by attracting new clients with positive online testimonials and referrals.)

Unfortunately, many lawyers are too busy practicing law to give a lot of thought to the client experience. That’s a mistake because there’s little otherwise to differentiate you from other law firms. To ensure your clients walk away with a great impression, you should communicate regularly with them and keep them updated on their case, use technology to create a client portal for ease of billing and calendaring, and of course, develop a thoughtful client intake process.

Why does client intake matter for family law firms?

The practice of family law is different from other areas of law because it’s emotionally charged and often adversarial. It’s also incredibly personal and potentially embarrassing or terrifying— especially for victims of emotional and physical abuse.

Family law clients often feel a little shellshocked when they first walk in for an initial consultation. Not only are they going through something traumatic, but then they must share the most personal, intimate details of their ordeal with a complete stranger. That’s why it’s critical for lawyers to build a sense of trust with new clients at the very beginning— and to do so very quickly.

Without that trust, clients may not share important information that is potentially damaging to their case. Worse yet, they might run for the door and into a different lawyer’s office.

What is client intake, and why is it so important?

The best way for a family law lawyer to create a positive client intake experience is to prepare in advance. That way, you’ll be ready to handle any emotional discussions more productively. This might mean implementing technology for a smooth virtual intake process or giving your client a form to fill out beforehand.

A client intake form, when built correctly, can give your clients direction. It can also get them used to talking about their issues so that they don’t get so flummoxed that they clam up and refuse to talk or unload like you’re their therapist.

Streamlining the intake process also cuts down on the risk of making a bad first impression. When asking questions about personal matters like domestic disputes, attorneys at law may appear to be insensitive. A questionnaire avoids that discomfort because you’ll be informed about the client’s situation in advance and be ready to start proposing solutions.

And if you share the form before your meeting, rather than requiring clients to fill it out when they get to your office, you’ll be more prepared for your first meeting.

What should you include on a family law client intake form?

You’ll need more than a basic contact form to get the information you need to improve the intake process. A comprehensive family law intake online form asks targeted questions. While it may not cover every single angle you’ll need to know about your client, it will give you a baseline of information to guide your conversation during the initial consultation.

The key is to start with general information and then move to more specific details. Here are some of the things that your family law intake form should cover:

It’s also a good idea to ask a few narrative questions, such as “describe your relationship with your kids,” “explain your biggest concerns about this situation,” and so forth. Questions like these give new clients a chance to tell their stories before talking to you. You can use this background to frame your discussion.

Download our client intake form template

If you don’t already have a client intake form, download our template (see the pop-up to your left?) to start building your own. Using an online client intake form can strengthen your client relationships, giving you the foundation for a better client experience from the very beginning.

A successful attorney-client relationship begins with the client intake process. Not only does it formally introduce the client to the firm’s procedures and requirements, but it also helps firms identify potential issues that could cause delays during representation.

A lot of firms operate with unsystematic onboarding procedures that vary from one client to the next, and these bad habits can thwart successful client relationships.

Improving the client onboarding process requires both efficiency and simplicity.

With the right tools and the following tips, law firms can create a client onboarding experience that is quicker and hassle-free.

Pre-Screening Process

With a pre-screening process, law firms evaluate potential matters to identify any issues before the onboarding process even begins, saving valuable time and resources.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including:

Standardized Data Collection System

Organization is key to simplifying the onboarding process, so you need a standardized system that repeats the same general procedures for each client’s onboarding experience.

This may involve such tools as:

Remote Capabilities

While some clients may prefer to meet in person, others do not have the time or ability to come into the office for an intake meeting. Remote onboarding capabilities provide clients with the convenience and accessibility that they appreciate, demonstrating a commitment to client service and respect for your clients’ time.

You benefit from remote onboarding capabilities by starting the client relationship on a positive and efficient note. For example, when coming into the office for an intake meeting, a client may forget to bring important information that is needed for their case. However, when meeting remotely, they can participate from a location where they have access to all relevant documents and records, effectively avoiding potential delays in the initiation of representation.


No attorney wants to start their representation of a client by missing the first court appearance, but that is exactly what can happen as a result of inadequacies in the client intake process.

That is why calendaring should be a regular part of your onboarding process. When clients come in with court dates or deadlines already in place, those should be immediately added to the firm calendar to ensure that they are not missed while all onboarding forms are reviewed.

Tracking New Clients

Law firms need a practice management system that allows them to store all onboarding and client information in a centralized location that helps keep track of both new and existing clients.

These platforms help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks between onboarding and initiation of work. Consider the following:

Efficient client intake begins and ends with the systems and tools that law firms implement. The right legal practice management software can prove instrumental to handling this important start to legal representation, thereby enhancing clients’ experience at your firm.

Attracting new clients is critical to maintaining a successful law firm, but there must also be a coordinated effort to maximize the client service experience once representation begins. Yesterday’s level of customer service is no longer enough to meet the expectations of today’s legal clients. They expect innovation, convenience, and consistent communication.

With a client-centered strategy, you can work to deliver the level of value and quality that meets client needs. This starts from the initial consultation and continues even after representation ends.

Let’s discuss some strategies that law firms can implement to create a client-focused environment where all clients feel valued.

Setting Expectations

As the first substantive communication between firm and client, the intake process is a perfect opportunity to solidify a client-centered approach to legal services. This begins with gaining a clear understanding of the client’s needs and expectations, which can be done by asking the following questions:

The answers to these questions reveal a lot about a client’s journey, while also providing insight into enriching their experience. Once this information is gathered, firms are able to assist clients with managing their expectations.

Intake is the perfect time to establish clear guidelines for client communication, including acceptable methods and what frequency of communications clients should expect. Some law firms choose to provide this information as part of a welcome packet that includes communication guidelines, firm information, and data specific to their legal matter.

The intake process should also establish the firm’s commitment to the truth. Clients need and deserve honest assessments about their legal matters, even if it is not what they want to hear.

Transparency builds trust and strengthens the client relationship, which is essential in a client-centered practice. By establishing clear and reasonable expectations from the start of representation, law firms lay the foundation for a successful client relationship.

Another strategy for improving the client intake process is to eliminate tedious repetition and inefficiencies. Legal practice management software helps with streamlining procedures such as client intake and CRM automation. With a faster intake process, casework can start as soon as possible.

Law firms should also insert calendaring into the intake process by immediately adding all pending court dates or events to the schedule. This prevents missed deadlines or appearances, which is a major impediment to a client-centered approach.

Setting Rates and Fees

Client service should also be evident in a firm’s rate and fee setting, which does not necessarily mean offering the lowest prices in the industry.

Yes, being competitive with other law practices is important, but you also need to be careful about undervaluing your services. Potential clients want top-notch skills and expertise when seeking legal counsel, and many are willing to pay more for those services. So, law firms need to set prices that are fair and in line with the level of service that their clients receive.

Payment options are also an important aspect of pricing. Alternative fee structures, like flat fees and unbundled legal services, have become increasingly popular within the legal industry over the past decade. Clients prefer these options because they allow for a more transparent fee agreement sans unexpected fees and costs.

Firms should also consider the client experience when determining what types of payment methods to accept. Today’s clients want the ability to pay their legal fees electronically with credit cards and/or ACH transfers. They appreciate the ease and convenience of these payment options, along with the extra layer of security that they offer.

Managing Communications

Communication is key in a client-centered law practice. The busy nature of a law firm atmosphere can negatively impact client communications when calls and messages go unanswered, so law firms need a system for ensuring timely responses to client inquiries. Even without an immediate solution, a quick response can calm concerns and strengthen the client relationship.

In establishing a communication plan, law firms should consider the following:

Legal matters can be mentally and emotionally draining for clients. By committing to regular communications and outreach, a law firm can provide much-needed support while strengthening the client relationship.

Adequate communication also extends to written communications. To make sure that clients get the most out of all correspondence they receive, law firms should avoid unnecessary legal jargon and use plain, easy-to-understand language instead. You can also improve the readability of their writings by using shorter sentences and avoiding lengthy paragraphs. Consider using techniques such as headings, subheadings, and bulleted lists.

Get Feedback

The client-centered approach does not end after representation. To be truly dedicated to a high-quality experience, law firms need to honestly assess their performance and make improvements where appropriate. Feedback is a great way to accomplish this task, and the following are some ways that you can secure it:

Once the feedback is collected, law firms should take steps to act on it. If clients were not happy with some aspect of their representation, firms should implement strategies to address change.

Information gathered from positive responses is useful to reinforce the procedures that make clients feel valued.

Create a Client-Centered Law Firm

Client satisfaction should be an ongoing goal for law firms as they craft a client-centered experience. This starts with asking what clients need and ends with an honest evaluation of whether or not those needs are being met.

By implementing these strategies, law firms add a considerable amount of value to their client service, resulting in happy customers and repeat business. Happy clients also mean potential referral sources for a law firm, helping you grow your business and bring in more revenue.

There is a common aphorism that often gets applied to life that goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. And it’s true in many cases. In good times, many businesses can see great returns, and the economy and emotional spirit of both large and small groups or populations of people can be elevated. But these past few years have been different. We are coming out of a really trying time, but something we have heard reiterated time and time again is that through challenging times, a firm's branding and marketing efforts become critical.

More importantly, when the going gets tough, the need to heavily rely on data to gain insights and direction becomes even more important as well. To be able to gauge trends and monitor consumer patterns is how firms will thrive through the chaos. For example, law firms that were marketing in 2020 saw a big drop in revenue in Q2, similar to firms who did not market, but, their leads and overall numbers were higher than they were in 2019 prior to the pandemic. And then into Q3 and Q4, they remained ahead of their previous years' numbers. The idea here is that although there were fewer people searching for legal services during the height of the pandemic, the jobs won went to firms that were consistently marketing.

Visibility and Searchability

The way people are finding law firms, especially via their websites, is significantly more fragmented than it has been. This fragmentation is primarily the result of the omnichannel environment we live in today. On any given day, you have people surfing Facebook, Google, local newspaper listings, online newsletters, podcasts, radio, the list goes on and on. The bottom line here is your potential clients are finding your firm in a lot of different ways.

Create and Highlight Content

Traffic from social media almost doubled in that second quarter during the pinnacle of quarantine, and surprisingly enough, it stayed almost 4% higher throughout the rest of the year than it did in 2019. We are seeing more traffic come from people on social media than ever before. And not only are these people spending more time on social media, but they are also actually taking the next step and going to law firm websites. The strategy here indicates that you need to be in more places online and the easiest way to achieve this is by producing content. Some of you may have read that and felt a wave of panic but don’t worry! When you begin thinking about this content, think about the content your firm would be best at producing; the areas of expertise your attorneys, firm administrators, paralegals and the like possess and capitalize on that! And utilize your ability to repurpose that same content in other areas as well. For example, if you have a blog, consider using that material and making it a video.

Another thing to think about in terms of your content is highlighting and marketing all the technological advancements you have at your firm. If you utilize practice management software, publicize your ability to take online payments, publicize your client portal, automation capabilities, easy intake process, etc. All of those things are advancements that potential clients will look at and cross-compare against other firms, so use it to your advantage! Being able to highlight your customer experience improvements will only serve to benefit you.

Utilize the Internet

Search engine optimization is not going anywhere, in fact, it is driving more and more traffic to law firms. If you think about all the effort you put into gaining referral partners, whether it’s getting on the phone with potential businesses, sending thank you gifts, those couple rounds of golf, all the things you do to establish those relationships. Now think about how much time you're putting in the largest referral partner you have, which is Google? The benefit of Google is that most users are searching for something already. They are looking for an answer or help so not only will they be more reliable, but they will be more willing to work with you to get their problem solved.

Let’s walk through a hypothetical example. Take an estate planning firm, typically, they do a lot of in-person events to drive potential new clients and they really emphasize the need and highly encourage clients to come in for consultations. Well, in almost the blink of an eye, the world shifted to operating online. And now, the first consultation is a Zoom meeting, and those in-person events have transformed or disappeared entirely. So what happens now? In this case, the firm would need to change their website to support online intake and then direct the potential new client to a calendar scheduling tool to seamlessly book the meeting. With this shift, you can now market the efficiencies of this new online process and emphasize the benefits of putting time back in your client's day by reducing commutes and streamlining the intake process.

Ultimately, all the things you are doing to help your law firm be more efficient and effective are also the way your clients want to work. So remind them of the pain of doing things the “old” way and market your services as ones that meet their new needs.

The Intake Process

Now that we have gone through some marketing strategies, let’s think about the ways that you can connect and hopefully get those new clients to contact and hire you. The next challenge that many firms face is how to manage the intake process. How do you manage the volume of calls and digital messages coming in? The issue that arises here is that there is a finite number of hours in the day, but clients don’t care about that, they want a response as soon as possible. And the sad reality is, people are impatient, if they don’t hear back on their time frame, they will find another firm who will.

The pandemic has obviously caused a lot of disruptions. But what has that meant for attorneys and firms? What solutions have been implemented to improve the client intake experience and ensure that responses are efficient and uniform?

System Dependency

Overall, the best way to maintain an elevated client experience is to be system-dependent and not owner or operator-dependent. Think about the lack of availability you may have on a day-to-day basis, between your personal and professional life, handling operations, HR, administrative tasks, everything that you have on your to-do list leaves very little time to handle those inbound inquiries that come to you. You still want to be responsive to both your existing and current clients, but also to your potential new clients and referrals. It is really critical that you set up systems that can be responsive for you, and bring in the technology and the talent that is on your front line. What we saw last year was a lot of people quickly added new technologies that acted like a bandaid or patch. And now what we’re seeing today is as people begin to recover, they notice the holes that they patched and they want to make it look better. They want to make it look great because after all, it is the reputation of their firm that is at stake.

Easy Automation

Making it easy for PNCs to select an available time for a consult without disrupting your day-to-day is the easiest first step to enhance your client experience with minimal effort. Not only will this calendaring automation speed up that first initial contact with the client, but it frees up your staff and it is easy to manage with minimal training in the case that you do need your receptionist or team to step in and intervene. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone faced disruption this past year. So while you’re working hard throughout the day, your clients are too. Sometimes, it isn’t until 10 PM at night when a PNC will come home and have the brain space to think about those divorce papers, mergers, settlements, etc. So giving people the silent comfort of choosing availability on their time is priceless. And we are not saying that you have to answer your cell phone and email at all times of the day, but you do have to be responsive.

The next piece of this intake process revolves around legal workflow automation. The reason why legal workflow automation exists is that law firms needed to find a way to reduce the administrative tasks their attorneys take on and give them more time to focus on creating billable hours. Let's walk through some examples... when a PNC gets created, you can use a workflow to automatically alert your team that work needs to be done. You can automatically schedule a conflict check, confirm that the PNC's data is entered correctly, and verify that your attorneys can take on the workload. Not only is this eliminating inefficiencies, but it is increasing team communication, and enhancing your client services. You can also eliminate the monotonous task of creating letters of engagement or other documents with document merge. This allows you to automatically generate a document based on fields within Centerbase instead of manually typing each document and filling in the respective detail. You can create the initial template and set which information fields you want to be pulled to populate the document.

Legal workflow automation is meant to help create efficiencies and reduce human error. If you're not adopting these technologies or working with software that enables your firm, you're doing yourself and your clients a disservice. If you’re curious to learn more about this, check out this video.

The ways we are consuming and interacting with each other as consumers and businesses have changed a lot in response to the disruption of the pandemic.

Communication Expectations

A lot of what has changed in the last two years has been expectations. Today, clients are fully expecting that you guide and steer the process. So you must ask yourself, how do you make sure that you’re delivering on what the client needs? How are you producing content and answers on all the channels that you operate and are publicly available online? Every platform your brand is listed on needs to uphold the same level of responsiveness. And it’s not just about the speed, it’s about the quality of content. One of the main reasons clients won’t move forward with a firm is because they don’t get the answers they’re expecting. Easily combat this by proactively anticipating the commonly asked questions. Time is thin right now, and if you think about the importance of lead screening and qualification, not everyone is going to be a good fit for your firm. So it is one thing to get out in front and be responsive but you also don’t want to be taking consultations with just anyone on the internet who finds your firm and books your time.

The 2 Keys to Success

So after all of this, what are some of the most successful law firms doing when it comes to their intake process? Well, two things come to mind… the first is when you’re system dependent, you have to be constantly checking and monitoring those systems. That is simply a good habit that is just a matter of professional responsibility. It may not say it very specifically in the bar rules, but triple-check that when someone calls your firm the phone is answered and to your liking. Make sure that when someone sends an email and you have generated automated responses that the email is being triggered how you want it to, that it is being received, and that it also reflects the brand and voice of your firm. There are a lot of systems that are only being set up once and then forgotten and never checked again. Because of this, a lot of business is lost because no one has been assigned to that voice mailbox or that email account. If you don’t check them, that is a blindspot that is aiding a loss on investment for all your marketing efforts and all the other energy you’re putting into promoting and advertising your firm.

The second thing that successful firms are doing is following up with those individuals who reach out. This step can often distinguish the haves and have nots. What happens is the more you follow up (to a certain limit), the higher the payoff. Six points of contact are about the threshold here. Statistically, if you’re following up only once, we know that about 50% or slightly less of your inbound calls are being answered. There is so much distraction and noise these days that if you’re not following up multiple times, your message won’t be heard. It’s as simple as that. Depending on the practice area that you operate in, that will also really set the cadence. So when you ask, “How often should I follow up?” You have to take note of who your clientele is. If you are in personal injury, high-end estate, or intellectual property, you should be following up a lot sooner. Don’t give up and throw in the towel until the person has told you they have made the decision one way or another. That type of chase is incredibly beneficial to the bottom line.

We all know it is easier to keep an existing client than to obtain a new one, yet many firms fail to focus on practices that will ensure their clients receive a consistently positive experience with their firm. Some intentional effort in your firm’s practices can make a world of difference for your clients and for your firm. The common mistakes below can be easily addressed in your firm to create a more positive client experience.

Ineffective Intake Process

The client experience begins before an individual ever steps foot in your door. By focusing on creating a positive intake experience, you will set the stage for a successful client engagement.

Train Your Staff

The individual in your firm who is processing your potential client calls should not be just anyone answering the phone. It is important that those who take the calls are trained to do so. Be sure you have the right person(s) in this seat, individuals who are capable of listening, allowing the caller to tell their story, and showing empathy. They need to understand the importance of the questions they have been trained to ask. If they have to leave a voicemail for the caller, they should have a script that leaves the potential client with a positive impression that is professional and knowledgeable.

Use Technology

Your practice management software should have the ability to input information received from potential clients. Your staff should use this format so that there is consistency in the information gathered and nothing is overlooked. This will allow you to track critical data and understand conversion rates. (Do you know how many leads you need in order to land a client?)

Respond Quickly

It is important that someone respond to the potential client quickly once the initial information has been gathered. If you wait too long, they will have moved on to someone else who is more responsive. Set appropriate expectations by giving them a timeline for a callback and stick to it.

Poor First Impression

We all know you only get one chance to make a good first impression. With a little effort, you can ensure your firm gives a professional impression consistently.

Make Your Visitors Feel at Ease

Conference rooms should be clean and tidy. Staff should be professional, offer a beverage, and make the client comfortable while they wait for the attorney. Once they have been settled, don’t make them wait. We all know how we feel when our doctors keep us waiting well past our appointment time – our clients feel the same. Don’t give the impression that your time is more valuable than theirs.

Be a Good Communicator

Communicating doesn’t just mean talking – it also means listening. Attorneys are trained to prepare their response while listening to the other party. Work to avoid that here. Make eye contact and listen. If possible, have an assistant join you in the meeting to take notes so that you can fully focus on the potential client.

Failing to Meet Expectations

Once you have been retained, it is important to communicate with your client to set realistic expectations. Failure to do so can result in a dissatisfied client who will not only fail to provide referrals but may also share negative feedback about your firm.

Set Realistic Expectations

This starts with the engagement letter, which should be clear as to the expectations of both the firm and the client, with the scope of services to be covered and the fees that will be paid in return for those services. You should also let your client know how often they should expect to hear from you, and under what circumstances.

Follow Through on Your Promises

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Use an assistant to track all of your deadlines and timelines for client touchpoints so that you can focus on practicing law, knowing your assistant will keep you apprised of your deadlines for reaching out to clients. By having a good practice management system, your assistant can keep track of these for you with little effort.

Things don’t always go as planned when it comes to the law. When you can see things won’t go as planned, be sure to have honest communication with your client so that there are no surprises.

Communicate Well

The #1 Bar complaint is that clients do not feel their attorneys keep them well informed. If you have set appropriate expectations during the client onboarding process by explaining your policies and you follow through with those promises, you can avoid expectations not being met. If you have trained your assistant well, you can feel comfortable in allowing them to reach out to clients with updates where there is “no change” or “nothing new to report,” so that they are hearing from you and not wondering what is happening with their case.

Focus on the Client, Not the Project

Clients want to know you care about them, not just the case(s) you are handling for them. Set up Google Alerts to stay abreast of what is happening with them and have a protocol for capturing that information and reaching out to them when you see something noteworthy.

Understand life from your client’s perspective. Take a moment from time to time to make a non-billable phone call to check in on them. Differentiate yourself by providing stellar client service, making them feel truly taken care of. By using your practice management software to track when you should reach out to someone again, your assistant can set these short calls for you around your schedule so that it does not feel like a burden but will go a long way with your clients.

Sending Invoices That Don't Convey Value

Providing your clients with invoices that show the value of your services is more important than ever. Think of your invoice as a marketing tool. By using a time & billing software that allows you to create templates that meet each client’s needs, you can send an invoice that is not immediately met with rejection.

Use Your Invoices as Another Way to Communicate

Explain explicitly the purpose of each task. Saying “t/c with opposing counsel” does not fully convey the value of a time entry that took .8 hours. Your client may be wondering whether you were asking OC about his family instead of making progress in the case for almost an hour.

Communicate with your client by phone before sending a bill that is going to be unusually high. There should be no surprises if you want to both keep your client satisfied and also be paid in full. If you have an especially high workload in a case, it may help to bill that matter every 15 days instead of monthly.

Send bills regularly – at least every 30 days. Waiting too long results in a high bill that is less likely to be paid in full and gives the impression there is no urgency to be paid.

Failing to Use Technology

Today’s clients are technologically savvy, and they expect their attorneys to be as well. Practice management software allows you to work efficiently. It allows you to:

With some effort on creating protocols and training your firm staff, you can quickly have systems in place that will ensure your clients have a consistent, positive experience with your firm.