We are constantly looking for ways to be more efficient, with the goal of saving time and money for our clients. In our pursuit of that goal, we use technology to automate tasks whenever possible. One task that was ripe for automation was our client onboarding procedure.
Our system was already in place when I stumbled upon a blog post from Automio, a legal tech company with offices in New Zealand and Australia. The author does a great job of explaining the "why and how" of automated onboarding system:
"Clients dislike meeting with lawyers. They dislike the inconvenient meeting times, the travel to and from the lawyer’s office, finding the lawyer’s office, finding a car park, finding out no one knows the law firm’s WiFi password, filling out new client forms, drinking sh*t coffee, having to explain their problem to get the lawyer up to speed … basically meetings with lawyers suck.
Yet the first meeting with a client is an important opportunity to impress the client with your wit and intellect, and to demonstrate the value you can provide and the results you can get. But is all that form filling out and getting up to speed on the client’s issue really an efficient use of your time and your client’s time? Is it adding value? The short answer is no."
The article goes on to describe a solution which is virtually identical to ours:
Step 1: Have the client answer an online interview
When a potential new client gets in touch, we provide them with the link to our onboarding page where a bot walks them through an interview and gathers information necessary to perform a conflict of interest check, open a file, prepare an Engagement and Fee Agreement, and set up access to our Client Portal.
The interview can be conducted at the client's convenience, in the comfort of his or her office or home.
Once the client has finished the interview, we are notified by email (and a transcript of the interview is sent by email to the client.
Step 2: We add the client’s answers to our practice management software
Step 3: Create terms of engagement
The client’s answers to the online interview instantly create a customized Engagement and Fee Agreement. We hold on to this draft agreement until after we've met with the client (see step 5), and then make any tweaks necessary before sending to the client for signature.
Step 4: The client schedules an online meeting
Upon receipt of the client's answers to the interview, we provide him or her with a list of available dates and times for an online video conference.
Step 5: We meet with the client online
By the time of this meet with the client we, of course, already have all their client information and the basics of the matter for which they seek representation, so we can dive straight into it without wasting any time.
Step 6: The Engagement and Fee Agreement is sent to the client
During our meeting with the client we’ll find out any additional information needed to update the Engagement and Fee Agreement. The Agreement is then sent to the client for signature using our electronic signature software.
Once the Agreement is signed, the client is given access to the Client Portal where secure communication and delivery of documents will take place.
The client is now "onboard" and we are ready to provide whatever service(s) the client requires.