A Guide to Legal Intake for In-House Counsel: Best Practices and Tips

March 28, 2024

Table of Contents

What is legal intake for in-house legal?

Legal intake refers to the initial process by which legal departments receive and triage legal requests from the business, such as Sales, Marketing, HR, or other departments, to review and provide legal analysis and advice on. Common high-volume requests may include sales questions, sales contracts, vendor agreements, marketing compliance reviews, open source license reviews, product questions, and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Due to the high volume and fast-paced nature many request from the business, it’s crucial for legal departments to have processes, and software tools in place to streamline legal intake. These systems help in efficiently allocating tasks at scale, prioritizing and balancing workloads, and ensuring that matters are directed to the right legal professional based on their expertise. 

What kinds of legal requests might can be managed by legal intake and triage workflow software?

Any legal request, especially high-volume, repetitive legal requests, can be managed by legal intake and triage workflow software

Contract examples:

Request examples:

  • Legal opinions on potential business ventures or projects
  • Marketing compliance reviews
  • Review and approval of marketing and advertising materials
  • Deal Desk and proposal reviews
  • Employee-related matters
  • Compliance and regulatory inquiries
  • Data privacy and protection queries
  • Trademark and patent filings or inquiries
  • Generative AI and other AI tool requests
  • Subpoena requests
  • Invention (new IP) disclosures
  • Privacy requests
  • Compliance and ethics questions
  • Employment law issues

What metrics or KPIs should in-house legal track to measure the efficiency of the legal intake process?

To gauge the efficiency of the legal intake process, some metrics worth tracking include:

  • The number of requests coming in by type and over time. This helps paint a vivid picture of the kind and volume of legal matters the team addresses.
  • Time to first review. This is a good indicator of the team's responsiveness.
  • Duration between when a request enters and exits the Legal queue, shedding light on the overall speed of the process.
  • Total time in review or the cumulative duration a request is with Legal. This reflects the team's effectiveness in handling matters. It might be beneficial to detail this further by the type of legal request and track improvements over time.

Monitoring these metrics can be incredibly helpful for in-house legal teams. It not only underscores the timely and quality support that the legal department provides to the business but also pinpoints areas where operations can be streamlined and service delivery enhanced. Manually tracking these metrics can be a drag—time-intensive and error-prone, making it tough to guarantee consistent and accurate data. That's where legal intake software like Streamline AI comes into play. It does the hard work, automating the process and ensuring both efficiency and precision in tracking real-time key performance indicators.

What are some best practices when designing a legal intake form?

To see a more comprehensive guide to designing better legal intake forms and processes, read our blog post here.

Refine your questions to elicit preciseness

To nail down what requesters are looking for, ask precise questions. Instead of a broad “What do you need?” question in the form, ask, “What kind of agreement are you looking to establish?”.  By drilling down to the specifics, you can tailor the subsequent parts of the form, ensuring you capture all the information needed.

Use conditional logic

Lengthy forms deter requesters and incentivize them to email instead, which then increases Legal’s manual workload triaging emails. Make forms concise, but don’t sacrifice the information gathering.

Instead use conditional logic to display fields in response to answers. This ensures requesters see the questions applicable to their request use case. For example, you don’t need one vendor agreement request form for large purchases over $20,000 and another separate one for purchases under $20,000. Instead, build if/then conditionality to personalize questions for each purchase size.

Sequence form questions from easiest to most complex

Arrange fields from simple to complex. Begin with asking the basics, like counterparty names, and then dive into the details. This gradual approach ensures users continue on because they’re already invested.

Simplify your forms

While it's tempting to ask for every single detail details, it can overwhelm users. Only include necessary questions. If needed, gather extra information later.

Group questions logically

Cluster related fields together. For example, group address details like street, city, and state together. Grouping by topic simplifies the user’s thinking process.

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