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Two Keys to Best Practices for Client Intake

Client intake is like air intake for your car.

If your car doesn't have air coming into the engine, you are not going anywhere. The air intake brings a fresh, life-giving resource that you need to go.

That's how it works in law practice, too. Here are two keys to make sure you've got good client intake.

Intake Form

Forms may be as boring as an air filter, but they are fundamental to best practices. You must have one to get started, and it should include:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number
  • Identifying information, such as driver's license number
  • Contacts authorized to receive updates on the matter
  • Matter specific, custom forms by practice area

The American Bar Association gives free pointers on client intake forms, but charges for downloads.

Engagement Letter

It's critically important to describe clearly the scope of proposed representation to a client. State Bar complaints constantly show that clients want more information -- not less -- from their lawyers.

The engagement letter starts out the relationship in the right direction, and it helps keep everybody on the same page. Along with the retainer agreement -- which should also define the scope of representation -- it may be the most valuable page in the client file.

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