Running a law firm, like any other business, involves managing a bunch of complicated and often disjointed processes. In a more traditional business environment, there are distinct departments to handle each of the major core processes: sales, marketing, engineering, business development, etc. But in an average small to midsize law firm, things are a little different. It’s usually just attorneys and various support staff positions. This leads to the business oriented processes being jumbled up and lumped together with legal work. In this post we explain why this is a problem, and why lead management needs to be separate from case management.
Lead Management Needs to Be Separate from Case Management and Here’s Why
In order to streamline operations and minimize waste, it’s helpful to break down different processes and compartmentalize them into isolated systems. Business processes and legal work in particular should be divided up and managed independently, while maintaining a smooth and seamless integration between the two.
Here are the major reasons why separating lead management from case management is an essential step toward better law firm operations, and how implementing a lead management system can help.
Two Fundamentally Different Processes
First things first, let’s take a closer look at these two processes and note some of the key differences.
What is Case Management?
Case management is the complete set of processes through which legal services are fulfilled and provided to a client (i.e. part 3 of the legal sales cycle).
The specific work involved for the law firm will vary depending on the type of matter and practice area, but generally it consists of research, drafting, negotiations, filings, court appearances, etc.
What is Lead Management?
Lead management is the complete set of processes through which a law firm generates new prospective clients and interacts with them during the initial hiring and client intake phase (i.e. part 1 and part 2 of the legal sales process).
Some of these processes include maintaining a website, producing content, using social media, taking phone calls, meeting with people, sending follow up emails, and having consultations.
Think of case management kind of like the engineering or manufacturing department in a traditional business. It’s the group of people and processes charged with the task of building the product to be sold and delivered to customers.
Lead management on the other hand, is much more like the marketing, sales, and business development functions. It consists of the people and processes responsible for bringing in new customers and converting them into paying clients.
When you look at things this way, it’s pretty obvious why lumping together your case management and lead management into a single system can be problematic. They are two fundamentally different processes.
Within a normal small firm structure, the same people will likely be involved with managing both case and lead management, but nonetheless it’s important to compartmentalize them and manage them independently.
Clutter Reduces Efficiency
Most law firms have adopted some type of case management system. There are a number of established software providers like Clio, MyCase, RocketMatter, and others (we covered them in more detail in our post about law firm cloud software). These systems are built for managing cases, storing documents, calendaring, billing, and helping law firms collaborate and stay organized.
However, very few law firms have an effective lead management system in place. Most of them are either trying to use their case management software for lead management, or if they have a separate system, it’s usually one they cobbled together with Excel spreadsheets or Google Docs and lots of emails.
When case management software starts getting cluttered up with leads and matters that never pan out, those things start getting in the way of the actual clients and legal work that need your attention. Excel spreadsheets tend to fall by the wayside and don’t get updated, and emails are too easy to ignore and let slip through the cracks.
In either case, the outcome is an overly cumbersome and ineffective process for accomplishing the very important goals of lead management. “Garbage in, garbage out” as they say. By separating out lead management from case management, and implementing good systems for each, law firms can operate more efficiently and set themselves up to achieve steady growth.
Designing the Ideal Workflow
So, what does an ideal workflow look like for managing these processes? It should involve two separate systems, one for lead management and one for case management. But the key is, both systems must operate harmoniously in tandem.
Lexicata: A Lead Management Solution
We’ve set out on a mission to create the best lead management software for small and medium law firms, as explained in our post about why law firms need a CRM.
In doing so, we’ll empower law firms to construct efficient, repeatable workflows for managing their business processes separately from their legal work. But to truly maximize operational efficiency, it’s imperative that these two systems be integrated to allow for seamless transitions of data back and forth.
Client Intake Links Lead Management to Case Management
Our eureka moment was when we realized that client intake is the interface between lead management and case management. It’s where all the communication takes place. It’s how the information is exchanged between client and lawyer, and it’s a requisite step before the law firm can conceive, propose, and deliver an appropriate solution to the legal issue at hand.
It’s crucial that the client intake process is efficient and easy on both parties, yet also comprehensive. And that’s why we built client intake tools directly into our lead management system, in order to help law firms collect the information they need quickly and easily, and provide a seamless transition into the legal work that ensues.
Our first integration partnership is with Clio, and the initial response has been tremendous. Our customers are managing their leads in Lexicata, performing their intake process online with our intake forms and e-signatures, and only when they are hired are they exporting the data to Clio to begin managing the case. No more unnecessary clutter in Clio, and a better system for tracking and following up with leads that’s built just for that purpose.
A lead management solution is incomplete unless it integrates seamlessly with the case management system, just like a business cannot operate if its engineering department is disjointed from the people marketing and selling the product they’re developing. Client intake is the key step between the two processes, and that’s why online client intake is such a game changer.