Create A New Client Welcome Package

Good communication is essential to establishing trust, which is the foundation of any successful attorney-client relationship. But no matter how well you explain your services to your client during your intake and initial consultation, there is only so much your clients can absorb during that initial meeting. A good welcome package can help build trust with new clients by providing them with a tangible guide to your services and a ready reference for those inevitable follow up questions that occur after the initial consultation. It is an excellent tool to add to your client service arsenal.

Your welcome package can be sent as a hard copy through the mail or electronically via email or as a secure part of your website. A welcome package in the form of a folder or binder may also provide a place for clients to keep important documents or information in a central location throughout the engagement.

What to include in a new client welcome package

A good welcome package should include three categories of materials: information about the client’s issue or matter, tools to aid your client throughout the engagement, and information about who you are and what you do. Much of this material is designed to answer client questions for you even when you are not available.

Information about the client’s issue or matter

First and foremost, the welcome package should include a copy of your signed engagement agreement, which governs your relationship. This is a document both you and the client may need to refer back to from time to time during the engagement.

Good client service means ensuring clients understand your policies and procedures, and you make it easy for them to pay your bills. In addition to the formal engagement agreement, provide your clients with a copy of your billing policies and guidelines. If you accept credit cards, include a credit card authorization form.

Provide new clients with a ‘roadmap’ to their case in the form of a timeline, process outline or flow chart that details the stages the client’s case must go through in order to reach its conclusion.

Many clients have similar questions and concerns during their matter. Provide them with answers to frequently asked questions and a glossary of terms they may encounter during the engagement.

If you have written blog posts or articles that explain the client’s issue or concern, give the client copies of those articles as well. These materials will not only help your new client to be more comfortable with the issue, but they will reinforce your status as an expert, and they may answer questions new clients are afraid to ask.

Tools to aid your client (and you)

If the client will need to gather information for you, provide them with a list of documents or develop forms to help them give you necessary information, such as a chart to record complaints and doctor’s visits in a personal injury case, a log to track contacts or problems with a difficult spouse in a matrimonial proceeding, or a spreadsheet to record account information for estate planning.

Your welcome package could also include a list of helpful resources and information, or links to websites  where clients can seek information or related services.

A good gauge of client service is the client survey. Include one in your welcome package so clients can give you feedback before the engagement is over.

Who you are and what you do

Make it easy for your clients to contact you during the engagement and in the future. Provide them with the names and contact information for all those with whom the client will be working in your office, and let them know whom to contact if they have a problem. Include your billing department or office manager in this list for client billing questions.

Your welcome package should also include information about your office hours and policies and procedures that affect clients.

In this age of multi-media, many lawyers have begun providing additional materials to clients in the form of audio or video on CD or DVD explaining more about their practice or particular issues of interest to clients.

Don’t forget to cross-sell the other areas of practice to your new clients by providing them with information on all of your practice areas.

Finally, you may want to include other marketing or promotional items in your welcome package as well, such as extra business cards or a copy of your firm newsletter to generate referrals.

(photo: http://flic.kr/p/71D9ex)

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  • Gabriella O’Rourke

    I’m just in the process of developing a client ‘onboarding package so this is a very helpful and timely post, thanks. Some great ideas here.

    • http://legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Gabriella,

      Thanks. I’d love to find out how your client welcome package works out for you and what kinds of reactions you receive from clients.

      Allison

  • Laura L. Thatcher

    Fantastic idea! I especially like the road map/time line ideas and providing copies of previous blog posts.

    • http://legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Laura,

      I love the idea of ‘repurposing’ what you’ve already done and maximizing its value, not only for you, but also for your clients. It would be great if all of our clients read all of our blog posts, but we know that’s probably not going to happen. If there’s something you’ve written that is of particular interest to a certain sector of your client base, why not include it in a welcome package to clients who fit into that category? For that matter, why not send it to existing clients as well?

      Clients seem to really appreciate the ‘roadmap’ idea. I often say that clients have two levels of anxiety: ‘substantive’ anxiety about the legal issues involved in their case and whether or not they will achieve the outcome they want, and ‘process’ anxiety about what it means to be involved in this kind of legal matter, what to expect and when, etc. Most lawyers are great at addressing substantive anxiety, but they forget about process anxiety. A lot of these tools address that.

      Allison

  • Reza – Los Angeles Accident Lawyer

    This is a great idea and we continue to see how clients appreciate materials that are given to them.

    • http://legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Reza,

      Thanks for your comment. What specific feedback do you receive from clients about materials you give them?

      Allison

  • http://www.leuthnerlaw.com Christopher W. Huether

    This is a wonderful idea, and I think it is useful for the attorney, too, as it sort of acts like a checklist of things to remember to talk about during an initial consultation. It also gives the appearance of being more prepared for your client meetings, with everything neatly laid out and labeled.

    • http://legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Chris,

      That’s an added benefit I hadn’t thought about, but it definitely makes sense. It’s easy to get off-track during initial consults with clients and get carried away in their anxiety or emotions. The welcome packet may be a good way to bring the discussion back to the task at hand.

      Allison

  • http://integrativelegal.com/ Kris L. Canaday

    Great article and tips! I have a Welcome Packet for my attorneys that includes almost everything listed here. When I developed it, I wasn’t sure if it was something I needed or if I should include anything in particular. I included what I thought my attorneys would want to know and what they might find useful; it’s nice to know that I was working along the right lines. The idea of including relevant articles and blog posts hadn’t occurred to me, nor had the idea of including my client survey before the end of the engagement. I plan on implementing both of these ideas into my Welcome Packet. Thanks!

    • http://legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Kris,

      I try to remind lawyers that the end of the engagement isn’t the only time to ask clients for feedback. It’s important to know throughout the engagement whether or not the client feels you are meeting their needs – and sometimes it is a way to identify additional services that you can provide to the client to enhance the engagement even further.

      Allison

  • http://www.alpharettapersonalinjuryfirm.com/ Amy W

    Great suggestions. Of course, we have a basic set of forms for new clients but having a “roadmap” and a list of the contacts in the firm in the package, along with any relevant blog posts, will hopefully give clients peace of mind about the process. I’m going to incorporate those ASAP. Ideally, a current client could even hand over some of the welcome package materials (and not just a business card) for a friend or family member to look over at if they have a need for a similar type attorney.

    • http://legalease.blogs.com Allison Shields

      Amy,

      How great would it be if clients passed along your articles and other information to friends, family members and other potential clients? What better way to demonstrate your expertise?

      Including articles and other information in your welcome package can also be a good way to remind clients that you have additional information available at your website and on your blog if they (or their family members, friends, etc.) have questions about other aspects of the process or the law in your area, etc.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      Allison