Paperless bankruptcy law: how we digitized a client’s intake form using WordPress

Let’s face it, especially since the bankruptcy laws changed in 2005, bankruptcy lawyers are no stranger to paperwork.

While necessary to complete the job, these piles of paper can make life miserable not only for the person filling them out, but the crew responsible for organizing and maintaining the information too.

We made a bankruptcy client’s life easier by digitizing his client intake form using WordPress.

Digital forms are faster and more efficient

It all started with a bankruptcy law client, Walter Metzen in Detroit, sending us what he thought was a hefty request: he wanted to convert his multi-page startup packet for his potential clients into something that could be completed online. This thing was a beast. Completion of this packet is something you definitely would like to sit down and do with some time on your hands set aside for tackling this monstrosity. While simple functionality was the main concern with the project on the client’s side, we were also able to add some bells and whistles. We wanted to make it easier for all parties to complete the packet, and I’d like to think we hit it out of the park.

You can view the completed form on Walter Metzen’s website here.

This new-and-improved form is faster in all ways, for all parties involved. For the user, conditional logic allowed us to strip out tons of extra questions and fields based on their answers to some previous questions. Conditional logic means that certain forms will only appear if a previous option is selected.

In the paper form the packet is made to look enormous because every field also has one next to it for a filer’s spouse; the digital version simply takes out all spouse-related fields if the user reports that they’re filing alone.

digital form - conditional logic example

This same practice is applied for reporting property the person filing may have; house addresses, vehicle makes and models, etc. When questions that are irrelevant to the user are taken out of the equation (which isn’t possible with paper), the form gets smaller and easier for the person filling it out to complete, which then increases the chances that they’ll actually finish it rather than looking elsewhere out of frustration. This could mean the difference between keeping or losing a client.

This process makes everything faster for the person requesting the forms too. No waiting on snail mail to deliver the paper to your office, no fussing around with fax machines (or simply finding one, period), and no time spent trying to decipher a client’s subpar handwriting. Everything you could possibly need is handed to you with the click of a button, instantly, in a perfectly legible format.

Digital forms are more convenient than conventional paperwork

The wonderful thing about the internet is that the vast majority of the population has access, either from home, or the palm of their hand. By hosting your form on your website you get rid of the need for a client to visit your office to get the paperwork they need (which can involve working around business hours and work schedules, availability of transportation, etc.), or alternatively save them (or you) the hassle of printing off enormous stacks of papers that need to one way or another find their way back to your hands.

paper forms

Nobody wants to see this in their office, or handed to them to fill out.

When a user makes an error on a paper form, you run the risk of the notorious scribble with arrows designating where to look for the value they goofed up on. Digital forms erase that possibility with a single stroke of the backspace key.

Have you ever lost a paper form in a spacious filing cabinet that hasn’t been cleaned out in a bit too long? Digital forms are automatically stored on your website and can be downloaded for safer storage elsewhere, at any time, thus ensuring you’ve always got a copy that can’t be lost.

Do you allow your clients to fill out your forms in your office lobby in their pajamas? Digital forms allow th- …you get the point.

Convenience is key. Even if the prospective client hasn’t got the slightest inkling of a desire to complete the form online (and some will prefer pen and paper!) the sheer ability to offer that as a choice is nothing but a win for you.

Digital forms help you stay competitive

We live in a world where instant gratification is everywhere. Need a product? Amazon can get it to you the next day. Curious about a question that’s been nagging you all day? A quick Google search will probably provide you with an answer in seconds. It’s become standard to expect a company to have a good website that provides functionality for its users, and your website should be no different.

People are busy, and competition is tough. If you tell a potential client that in order to receive your services they’ll have to fill out this, sign here, initial here – and so on – when they could go up to Law & Order, LLC up the street and have everything handled online in a handful of minutes, well, chances are they’re going to go with the easier choice.

There are numerous benefits to streamlining this process, as outlined above, and the very best part is that it’s essentially a set-it-and0-forget-it type measure. The initial form creation is the most arduous part of the process, and even calling it arduous is a stretch. After it’s been created and implemented properly into your website it takes nothing going forward except for the occasional plugin update to maintain.

Take the leap into the digital age.


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