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How attorneys view due diligence

When you agree to represent a new client, it's important you understand all the details you can about the person. Initial contact with a prospect provides the first opportunity to decide whether a firm is suited to represent the party, whether a client has any glaring personal issues, and whether a successful legal strategy can bring success. It also protects your reputation and mitigates potential malpractice suits.

We asked attorneys to evaluate their own due diligence when agreeing to work with a potential client. The first thing we asked was the effectiveness and magnitude of their client intake process.

  • 47%
    of attorneys have confidence that their client due diligence process always provides enough information in deciding to represent a client or not.
  • 31%
    of respondents always conduct a public records search for all clients as part of client intake due diligence.
  • 65%
    view client investigation as very important.

Not all attorneys perform due diligence on every client, and some may not perform it all—a small minority.  We looked at the consequences experienced when no client investigation is performed, as well as how many legal professionals have no system in place to examine a client’s credentials. Here’s what we discovered.

  • 52%
    have not experienced any negative consequences for not performing due diligence
  • 8%
    have NO intake/due diligence workflow

The top three negative experiences reported (68% of all issues) for not performing due diligence were:

  • Dealing with a problem client
  • Delay of process
  • Inability to discern if a client was truthful

With the breadth of information available on any one person, it’s interesting to note that very general information is usually satisfactory for retaining a client. Simple cases often require nominal information only. Basic information includes place of employment, home address, family members, date of birth, phone, and email. Larger, more complex cases of course will require you to dig deeper to find what you need.

81% examine and verify only basic information

The three other leading types of information sought were:

  • Involvement in other lawsuits
  • Civil actions
  • Online presence
  • Organize your intake in well-defined processes (classification system for prospective and current clients, initial meeting, due diligence, intake and retention, drafting engagement agreements & forms).
  • Use an online tool to conduct due diligence. Thomson Reuters’ PeopleMap on Westlaw leads the field. Using an online solution ensures data integrity, eliminates manual errors, and provides ways to quickly and efficiently get up to speed on necessary client information.
  • Track the source of every potential client for trends in acquisition

PeopleMap earns top honors in 2017 National Law Journal readers poll

PeopleMap on Westlaw has once again been voted the Best Online Public Records Research Provider for the second year in a row.

Let PeopleMap on Westlaw help improve your client intake process

Thomson Reuters PeopleMap on Westlaw is the industry choice for due diligence and investigative research. PeopleMap centralizes public and proprietary records through a user friendly interface and allows you to uncover critical information on people, assets and businesses so you can confidently get the job done faster and more accurately.

All figures based on the Conducting Due Diligence at the Client Intake Stage Research Survey, conducted by ALM Media, LLC in collaboration with Thomson Reuters. © 2018 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved.

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