Login | August 13, 2020

Gathering client information from a distance

RICHARD WEINER
Technology for Lawyers

Published: July 24, 2020

Among the many changes in the law office as a result of the pandemic, social distancing has suspended or cancelled the ability of attorneys to meet directly with clients in the office.
But like many of the changes distance lawyering has rendered to the business, this may not be a bad thing.
Hopefully, many practicing attorneys have discovered that working remotely combines convenience with cost-cutting, while at the same time hastening the adoption paperless office. The same is true of potential clients, who now don’t have to drive to your office, pay for parking, wait in the lobby, etc.
Some things do go missing without person-to-person contact, especially in first meetings or intense litigation conferences. So there are a number of tools lawyers and their clients can use to make sure that the lawyer has all the necessary information available to represent the client.
If you or your firm has spent the money on a big-ticket CRM, many of those functions are built in to that platform. But there are other, more cost-effective ways to accomplish the same functions.
Gathering information via online forms is easy and cost-effective. Check out Gravity Forms, Survey Monkey, or built-in functions in Word. Paid form builders like Joptform can encrypt these documents.
Instead of linking to a lengthy form when a potential client hits the “contact” button on the website, that action could could trigger an automatic email to the inquiring party that links to your calendar to “schedule a consultation”, along with a few questions. Pre-screening questions could include conflicts checks. If the client is not a good fit, the lawyer sends a non-engagement letter.
The lawyer can use the online consultation to ask the needed questions and fill in the firm’s appropriate forms.
Once engaged, security considerations come to the fore. Clients will need to deliver documents to the lawyer without contact, over email. Now is the time to encrypt everything, if you haven’t already done so.
Adobe’s PDF creator is expensive but allows lawyers to create personalized, secure fill-in-the-blanks forms that will drive down the cost of obtaining information.


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