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Client Selection and Intake

Transactional clinics, like litigation clinics, can choose to service a wide variety of clients. This section is not meant to provide any guidance regarding “mission” even though it is a very important issue to consider. Regardless of mission, however, every clinic must have a process by which it chooses clients. Sometimes that process is described in a clinic manual. Some clinics have their students involved in the process and layout defined criteria for what makes an appropriate client. Other clinics relegate those decisions to faculty for pedagogical consistency and institutional considerations. In any regard, every clinic must have a process in place that collects enough information from applicants to be able to make determinations about whether to accept them as clients.

This can be done in many ways but often starts with an application form which asks basic information about the individual or organization seeking assistance, including information about their business or venture (See Client Intake for more information). Some clinics have automated the process by making the application form web based. The application acts as the first vetting in the intake process. Will an applicant take the time to fill out the application completely and thoroughly? If not, that reveals something about the applicant’s commitment toward being a productive client. A clinician can design her application to be more or less discriminating as desired. Most clinics are capacity constrained, so they cannot service every client that desires assistance. Clinics may decide to choose clients that will provide the best educational opportunities for students.

Client applications are usually followed up by a screening telephone call. A staff member, student, or faculty supervisor can do this depending on preferences and pedagogical objectives. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The idea behind the call is to further screen the applicant to determine whether the client is in need of service, appropriate for the program, and will be a good client for students to work with. A face-to-face meeting is the next step and one where it is always good to have students involved in some capacity (if not in charge of the interview entirely).

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