Risk Update

New Business Intake — Law Firm COO on Enhancing Client Evaluation and Intake Processes

Fascinating interview with with Fred Esposito, COO of Rivkin Radler: “Leveraging process improvement: Changing the way law firms handle client in-take” —

  • “I wanted our firm to start our process improvement program by working on one that is critical to the business; those processes include intake, conflicts, timekeeping, billing, on-boarding, and pricing. The client in-take process was selected because it not only touches every part of the firm, it also produces outputs that affect and inform those other processes and strategic decisions.”
  • “I believe that client in-take may be one of the most critical areas on which a firm can focus its process improvement efforts, simply because it’s a contact point with almost every part of the client’s interaction within the firm.”
  • “As the process improvement operation into client in-take began, I had partners, associates, managers, directors, and administrators — such as those in finance, billing, and IT — selected to work on the project… All of these divergent voices greatly contributed to moving the project forward successfully. For example, we saw a lot of things from the lawyers’ perspective that have been very useful. Using this, my team delved into not only the procedural process of how the firm was conducting client in-take — measuring and analyzing the different steps of the in-take process — but also identified what being missed or overlooked.”
  • “For example, a large part of the in-take process is determining whether potential clients have conflicts that should be known to the firm. With the ability to focus on this one specific area, the team was able to find a way to better identify conflicts around adverse parties or relationships between parties, which often get missed in routine conflict checks. They also determined whether there were false conflicts being raised that may have caused needless problems.”
  • “When the pandemic hit, we wanted to see what the impact of a virtual law firm would be on these processes. So, we regrouped and revised our project charter and scope. In fact, we actually did the Measure and Analyze phases twice. That was because team members had worked the conflict process to a certain point, then decided to expand the scope to capture these missed and false conflicts. There was enough information that had been gathered to tell us this is something we should be considering.”
  • “Overall, the process improvement initiative in client in-take at our firm has been going on for more than two years. And that’s my point, this all takes time — it’s not an overnight thing. It’s not like you’re going to buy a Process Improvement for Dummies book and have your firm changed in three months. It’s not going to work like that — process improvement, done right, takes time.”