The Legal Tech Revolution: How AI is Shaping the Next Generation of Law Firms

In the world of Legal Tech, AI looms large on everyone’s radar. Whether you oversee technology in a small 5-person firm or a large 200-person firm, the pressure to stay informed and up to date is relentless. The use of AI tools has become accessible in nearly everyone’s day-to-day lives, and even clients are beginning to expect it from the firms with whom they engage.

Keeping up with modern technologies can be the difference between success and failure. However, when it comes to Artificial Intelligence, it’s not just about being tech-savvy. With the legal landscape constantly evolving, staying competitive and informed is essential to making the most out of your AI investments. Embracing modern technologies and staying up to date with legal changes go hand in hand to ensure a prosperous future for your business.

The Cost of a Bad Investment

Before diving headfirst into the world of AI, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks associated with poorly implemented technology. AI is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution and requires careful consideration and planning before implementation. Failing to do so can result in wasted time, resources, and money. Not investing the necessary time and effort into researching, vetting, and properly implementing an AI tool in a law firm can lead to several detrimental effects. While the concerns about AI’s negative impact are as numbered as the new tools available, there are three big concerns every plaintiff law firm should be aware of:

  1. There exists a significant risk of compromising client confidentiality and data security, which is a paramount concern in the legal industry. Such lapses can severely damage the trust clients place in a firm and irreparably tarnish the firm’s reputation. Ensuring the protection of sensitive information is crucial to maintaining the integrity of legal proceedings and the trustworthiness of legal practitioners. Any breach of this confidentiality can lead to legal consequences, loss of client trust, and a negative impact on the firm’s standing in the legal community.
  2. The improper application of artificial intelligence within the legal sector can result in significant inaccuracies in critical areas such as case analysis, document review, and legal research. Such inaccuracies can severely undermine the outcomes of cases and the effectiveness of legal strategies, impacting the firm’s overall efficiency and effectiveness negatively. These shortcomings could expose the firm to legal liabilities and increase the risk of facing malpractice suits, threatening the firm’s reputation and financial stability. This scenario underscores the importance of approaching AI integration with caution, ensuring its correct use to support legal processes without compromising the integrity and reliability of legal work.
  3. An AI system that fails to align with the firm’s specific requirements can lead to operational inefficiencies, which may manifest as increased overhead costs and a marked decrease in overall productivity. These inefficiencies often stem from the misallocation of resources, the need for additional training for staff, and potential disruptions in day-to-day operations. In the worst-case scenario, the cumulative effect of these issues can severely damage the firm’s competitive market position, erode its client base, and, ultimately, have a detrimental impact on its profitability. This underscores the importance of selecting and implementing AI systems that are meticulously tailored to the firm’s unique needs and operational dynamics.

The Rewards of Strategic AI Implementation

Implementing AI without due diligence can lead to significant pitfalls, underscoring the necessity of a thoughtful approach. Suppose AI is thoroughly researched, deployed, and managed. In that case, it can become a leading tool in helping lawyers and law firms make well-informed, data-driven decisions and creating efficiencies for team members.

To harness the full potential of AI in the realm of legal technology, it’s imperative for law firms to approach its integration with precision and strategic planning. The key to making AI tools successful in your firm lies in adopting a set of implementation techniques that not only align with your firm’s unique operations but also adhere to the highest standards of compliance and ethics. By prioritizing a meticulous selection process, thorough vetting, and bespoke customization, firms can ensure that their investment in AI technology yields positive outcomes. Here are several tips to fully leverage the benefits of AI while mitigating risks and enhancing your firm’s service delivery.

Navigating the Future with AI

Here’s the situation: Ignoring the power of smart data usage and the benefits of technology could effectively cause your company to lose its competitive edge. It’s becoming increasingly clear that those firms that have wholeheartedly embraced legal technology and invested significantly in training are enjoying a distinct advantage over their less tech-savvy counterparts.

Consider client satisfaction as the ultimate goal. In striving for this, it becomes impossible to overlook the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the future of your law firm. AI and legal technology can revolutionize the way you operate, from automating routine tasks to providing advanced analytics for better decision-making. This isn’t about replacing the human element in law but enhancing your firm’s capabilities and services offered to clients.

In this light, legal technology transcends being merely a tool for efficiency. It emerges as a strategic asset, empowering law firms to navigate the nuances and complexities of the digital age with greater agility and foresight. In a world where technology is constantly reshaping industries, positioning your law firm at the forefront of this digital transformation is not just beneficial—it’s imperative for survival and growth.

Achieving Success Together: Setting Client Expectations

Imagine being in a doctor’s office. You’re taken back to an exam room, and the doctor walks in, picks up a syringe, wipes your arm, and gives you a shot. He then gives you a list of instructions to follow and walks out the door. I do not know about you, but I would feel confused, upset, and angry. I’d walk out that door as fast as possible and never come back.

No one likes going into something blind. We are more comfortable and confident when we know what to expect. This is especially true for our clients who are dealing with difficult, unfamiliar situations and have reached out to you and your firm for help.

Preparing your clients so they know what will happen at each step and remaining transparent with them throughout the legal process is essential. This means setting realistic expectations and communicating effectively from the very beginning until the very end. By doing this, your firm can convey the complexities of the legal process, potential challenges, and the probable timeline in a way that clients can understand. This helps clients feel informed and empowered throughout the legal journey, reducing the likelihood of disappointment or frustration later.

In this blog, we will delve deeper into the art of setting client expectations. We will explore the importance of clear communication, strategies for effective expectation management, and the crucial role that these elements play in fostering positive client relationships. We aim to provide you with valuable insights and practical tips that will empower you and your firm to set client expectations successfully, ensuring a smoother journey for both your clients and your team through the complex legal landscape.

Building Trust and Confidence

When someone gets hurt in an accident, they might feel anxious, scared, and unsure about what to do next. It is essential to talk to them in a way that makes them feel comfortable and understood. This helps build trust between you and the client. By actively listening and showing empathy, you can establish a stronger connection with your clients. This will help them feel more confident in your abilities to handle their case effectively.

Communication is Key

Effective communication is a cornerstone of building trust and confidence with your clients. While demonstrating legal expertise is crucial, it’s also important to communicate complex legal processes and concepts in a manner that your clients can grasp. Use language that is straightforward and uncomplicated, avoiding legal jargon whenever possible. This helps clients understand the process and the steps involved, reinforcing their trust in your capabilities.

Underpinning the effectiveness of communication is the principle of dialogue – a two-way exchange of ideas and information. This isn’t just about conveying your expertise and explaining the legal process, but also about listening to your clients. Understanding their concerns, fears, and hopes can empower you to better serve their needs, and assure them that their voices are heard and valued. Regular updates, feedback sessions, and open channels of communication are essential elements of this process. This way, clients are not merely spectators but active participants in their legal journey, which can greatly enhance their trust in your services.

When clients trust you, they are more likely to let you help them with their legal case. Transparent, empathetic communication forms the bedrock of trust. Clients who feel heard, understood, and well-informed are more likely to refer their friends and family to you in the event they need an attorney and will also leave you a raving review!

Mitigating Anxiety

Personal injury cases can be emotionally charged and overwhelming. Your clients have likely experienced a scary, traumatic event and potentially suffered serious losses and damages. You should be intentional about making efforts to alleviate client anxiety by informing them about case progress and the next steps. This allows them space to work through their emotions effectively. Consider key elements like:

Keys to a Successful Client Relationship

In order to foster a successful client relationship, a few key principles are paramount. These principles not only guide your interactions but also shape the overall client experience. A thriving attorney-client relationship is predicated upon mutual trust and respect, which is cultivated over time and through consistent, positive interactions. Here are the fundamental elements integral to establishing and maintaining successful client relationships.

Example of Our Responsibilities:

An Example of Client’s Responsibilities:

What It Looks Like When Things Go Right

Let’s illustrate the principles outlined above with a practical example. This example will highlight the importance of clear communication, trust-building, and expectation management in the attorney-client relationship, showcasing what can happen when things go right.

Case Background: A client was involved in a car crash that resulted in severe injuries. The client was anxious and unsure about the legal process, potential compensation, and the timeline for resolution.

In the realm of personal injury law, one thing is clear: Client communication and setting expectations is not just a skill or a task; it is the lifeblood of your practice! By following these fundamentals, you can build stronger relationships with your clients, effectively manage their expectations, and ultimately achieve better outcomes for them. Every client interaction is an opportunity to build trust, educate, and empower your clients while furthering the interests of justice. Keep these principles in mind, and you will see a positive impact on your practice’s success!

Next Year Will Be Different: How to Set You and Your Team Up for Success with Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again! While you’re probably enjoying the holiday season, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the past year and plan for the future. This year has been unpredictable for many of us, and next year may be no different. However, acknowledging that your plans may need to accommodate some twists and turns will help you stay focused on your goals.

People and business leaders alike set New Year’s resolutions as a means to establish and strive toward clear, tangible goals for the coming year. This time-honored tradition allows individuals and organizations to reflect on past experiences, identify areas of growth and improvement, and commit to achieving specific objectives. For business leaders, it provides an opportunity to align their teams around unified visions, foster a culture of ongoing improvement, and set the stage for measurable success. By setting resolutions, they not only promote individual accountability, but also encourage collective progress, driving the organization toward its strategic objectives.

The Pitfalls of New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show that 92% of people who set resolutions for the New Year fail to achieve them. Overall, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. These statistics are not specific to people, but include businesses, as well. Often, New Year’s resolutions fail due to a combination of factors. For starters, people and businesses alike tend to set overly ambitious goals without a clear and realistic plan to achieve them. This lack of proper planning can lead to frustration and eventual abandonment of the resolution. Too, the excitement of the new year can lead to a rush in decision-making, causing us to set resolutions that are not truly aligned with our personal or professional long-term goals. When this initial enthusiasm wanes, maintaining the commitment to these resolutions becomes challenging.

In the context of businesses, another common issue is the lack of measurable goals. If a company’s resolution for the year is too vague, such as ‘increasing sales,’ it becomes difficult to track progress and maintain momentum. A lack of consistent monitoring and follow-up throughout the year often results in these goals being forgotten or overlooked.

Both individuals and businesses tend to view New Year’s resolutions as an all-or-nothing venture. The moment a setback occurs, the whole resolution is deemed a failure, which discourages continuation. Remember, progress is usually incremental and requires patience and persistence.

Making the New Year a Screaming Success

To avoid becoming part of depressing and discouraging statistics, it’s important to review the past year before making plans for the next. It’s vital to note that the success of a resolution depends on a variety of factors, such as the resources available, the commitment of the team involved, and the nature of the resolution. Here are some steps you can take to set yourself and your team up for success by taking a look back and setting your sights on the future:

  1. Identify your wins: Make a list of 3-5 large wins from the past year, not just case wins. For each win, identify what worked well and what areas needed improvement. You can then focus on what you can implement to improve your processes.
  2. Celebrate progress and achievements: Celebrate both large and small achievements your firm has made in the past year. This will keep you motivated.
  3. Identify barriers and challenges: Make a list of the barriers and challenges that prevented you from achieving your goals last year. Was it a lack of time, motivation, resources, or support? For example, did your firm struggle to reach your case-settled goal? Would a new software tool for your team help with efficiency to avoid bottlenecks that may have contributed to that loss? Or was it because you didn’t have enough support from your team?
  4. Focus on strategy: Identify what your firm does well and what your strategy is for success. It is important to look at things from a short and a long–term perspective.
  5. Learn from mistakes: Identify mistakes you made in the past year and learn from them. What were the takeaways? Why did they happen? This will help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
  6. Leverage technology: In this time of AI (artificial intelligence) hype, it’s important to leverage technology to stay ahead of the competition. Consider investing in or upgrading your legal technology tools that can automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and improve efficiency. Involve your team in evaluating these systems. Buy-in when making change is critical!
  7. Evaluate your marketing strategies: Are you reaching your target audience? Is your mission and vision represented in your brand? Review your client base to identify any additional areas where you could expand your services and take steps to update your marketing efforts in those areas.
  8. Focus on client satisfaction: This is the key to the success of any law firm. Make sure you are providing the best possible service to your clients. Communicating regularly is most important. Updating them with the information they need and ensuring their needs are met will make them raving fans of your firm and will be a tremendous referral source.
  9. Assess your staffing needs: Take a step back and look at your team as a whole. Determine if you need to hire additional team members or outsource any work. Law firms have a larger number of options for filling key positions than they’ve ever had in the past. Think through any staffing needs carefully, and do your due diligence if you choose to outsource any roles or tasks.
  10. Revisit your procedures: Very few firms are well-oiled machines, although that’s obviously the goal! Take some time to streamline your intake forms, file opening processes, monthly trust account reconciliation, etc. Now is a good time to revamp or draft these procedures for the first time for implementation in the New Year.
  11. Take better care of yourself and your team: Health and wellness are important, and you’re not going to make a splash in the new year if everyone is burned out or downright sick. Make sure you and your team are taking good care of yourselves. This includes taking breaks, getting enough sleep, and eating well.

Most importantly: Don’t give up. Remember that setbacks are a natural part of the process. Growth isn’t always forward motion. That’s natural! Don’t give up on your goals if you experience setbacks along the way. Stay committed to your journey for both you and your team.

Motivating Your Team: Igniting Passion and Performance

In the dynamic world of a plaintiff law firm, keeping your team motivated is crucial for both short-term tasks and long-term goals. A motivated team is more likely to demonstrate commitment, produce quality work, and contribute innovatively to the firm’s growth. Understanding the individual aspirations of your team members, acknowledging their achievements, and fostering an encouraging work environment can greatly enhance motivation levels.

In this section, we’ll explore effective strategies for boosting your team’s motivation and fostering a conducive atmosphere for growth and success. Motivating your team for the New Year can be a very challenging task. Here are some areas you can focus on and ideas for inspiring passion and motivation:

  1. Set clear goals: Help keep your team focused and motivated by setting clear and achievable goals. Make sure that the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  2. Celebrate success: Celebrating success is a great way to motivate your team. REGULARLY recognize and reward your team members for their hard work and achievements. This can be done in various ways, such as giving bonuses, organizing team outings, or simply acknowledging their efforts.
  3. Encourage collaboration: Encouraging collaboration can help your team members feel more connected and motivated. Foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. This can be done by organizing brainstorming sessions, team-building activities, or simply creating an open-door policy.
  4. Invest in your team by providing growth opportunities: Providing growth opportunities can help your team members feel more engaged and motivated. Offer training programs, mentorship opportunities, or chances to work on new projects. Send them to legal industry events. This will not only boost their confidence, but it can help your team members develop new skills and feel more invested in their work.
  5. Communicate effectively: Effective communication is key to keeping your team motivated. Make sure that you are communicating regularly with your team members and that you are providing them with the information they need to do their jobs effectively. This can be done through regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, or simply keeping an open line of communication.
  6. Have the team write a letter to their future self: Writing a letter to your future self can be a great motivator by setting intentions for the new year. In the letter, they can reflect on the past year and set goals for the future. The letters can then be sealed and opened it at the end of the year to see how far they’ve come.
  7. Host a team-building event: Hosting a team-building event can help your team members feel more connected and motivated. You can organize a fun activity, such as a scavenger hunt or an escape room, or simply have a team lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to include any remote workers in these events!
  8. Encourage the team to create a gratitude jar: A gratitude jar is a jar filled with notes of things you’re grateful for. You and your team members can write down things you’re grateful for throughout the year and add them to the jar. At the end of the year, you can read through the notes and reflect on all the good things that happened.
  9. Set a theme for the year: Setting a theme for the year can help you stay focused on your goals and aspirations. The theme can be a word or a phrase that represents what you want to achieve in the new year. For example, your theme could be “growth” or “innovation.”

Wrapping Up 2023 and Seizing 2024

As we bid farewell to 2023 and embrace 2024, I want to reiterate the importance of setting realistic New Year’s resolutions, adhering to them, and transforming them into successful outcomes. Remember not just about setting goals, but identifying clear, actionable steps towards achieving them. It requires commitment, patience, perseverance, and the ability to embrace failure as a stepping stone towards success. Don’t be disheartened by setbacks; they are a natural part of the journey. Instead, use them as learning opportunities to refine your strategies and bounce back stronger.

Keep the communication lines open, celebrate every success, no matter how small, and most importantly, take care of yourself and your team. The heart of a law firm is its people – the team behind the scenes that drives everyday operations and long-term success. Healthy and happy individuals form the backbone of a successful law firm. Each step taken towards a motivating work environment is a stride towards the overall growth and success of the firm for the New Year and beyond. Remember, behind every successful law firm is a team that’s motivated, passionate, and ready to conquer challenges head-on.

I hope these suggestions and creative ideas help set yourself and your team up for success in the coming year. Here’s to a successful 2024 filled with growth, innovation, and unprecedented success! Good luck!

Who’s Taking Care of Your House: Why Your Firm Needs a Database Administrator

Many law firms that utilize a case management system (CMS) have come to understand the incredible amount of data it has the ability to collect and capture. Good data is one of the most critical elements law firms use to make solid, well-founded business decisions. So having a shepherd and protector of your firm’s data is also important. In fact, many law firms ask us, “At what point do we need to have a dedicated database administrator?” and, “What is the role of a database administrator?” These questions acknowledge the importance of your data management and the power inherent in its ability to help your firm grow and reach new heights. In this week’s blog, we’ll discuss the critical role database management plays, define the role of a database administrator, and emphasize the importance of good, clean data.

Do I have to have a database administrator?

Short answer: Yes.

Think of it this way: You’ve done your research and vetted the many case management options available on the market. You picked the program that was right for your firm and made a significant investment in it.

You put in the work to get it implemented and trained your team on how to utilize this powerful tool designed to house client data. It likely took a ton of time, effort, and money to get it set up and begin functioning as you intended. It’s as time consuming and as big of a commitment as buying a new home. Well, just like buying and maintaining a house, you need to invest ongoing time and effort into keeping your home in top shape so that it is providing you with the shelter, function, and comfort you need. That ongoing investment into a CMS is made in the form of continuing training and education, empowering a database administer, and ensuring your program is up-to-date and that you’re making the most of every dollar you put into it. Any time you spend money to have a CMS program for your firm, you need to further that investment by having someone oversee that program and the data housed within it.

In a database, data is stored in a highly structured way. In a case management program, you are able to create new data items, read data items, delete data items, and update data items. In order for the database engine to run well, you don’t want everyone to be able to have access to complete those functions. In addition, as is the case with many other areas of operations within a business, if something is everyone’s responsibility, then it’s no one’s responsibility. How do you ensure clean data is being put into your system if you don’t have someone who is regularly checking it?

What is the role of data administrator?

A database administrator may look different depending on the needs and the size of your firm. Database management is essential to a law firm but does not necessarily need to be a full-time job. A larger firm may need a full-time database administrator with no additional case work duties. In a large firm, this person’s primary job would be to keep a check on the health of your system. That includes making sure the structure and integrity of your data is applicable and reliable for your firm’s needs. In addition, in larger firms, this person may be responsible for troubleshooting the database as well as supporting the hardware and software for the database and associated servers (if applicable).

The ancillary duties for this administrator could include training other team members on how to correctly use the system, creating and analyzing reports for different departments, working in conjunction with other departments in the planning and designing of new case types and reports for capturing data on different areas of the program, updating procedure manuals, and keeping your programs updated to the most current version. This administrator would also be aware of new trends in related systems, potential integrations available that would be beneficial to your firm, as well as any updates that apply to your current programs. If you firm ever decides to switch case management programs, the database administrator would likely be a project lead in vetting, selecting, and implementing the new program. This person can help you get the value out of your new or existing system so your team can be confident with the integrity of your data.

In today’s world of data mining, analyzing data, reporting, reporting and more reporting, you need your CMS to be up to date and capturing the most useful information for your firm in a way that allows for seamless and powerful analysis. This information likely will change frequently, and you need someone with the skills to know how to modify and mold your system to start capturing the needed data.

In a smaller firm, this team member may be your contact person for making any changes or updates to your CMS program or for adding new case types. This person would likely continue to have other work duties and would not be able to devote full time hours to your database but should still have the same skills and oversight for your systems. This may include adding new fields to capture data, creating document templates that work within your CMS, managing any cleanup needed, adding new users and/or case types, and creating or modifying reports. It is also beneficial to allow this team member access to any training that your current CMS program provides so they can keep your firm’s CMS program up to date. Finally, they can provide new team members with CMS onboarding training and existing team members continuing education on your chosen case management platform.

Regardless of firm size, it will be the database administrator’s role to ensure the team understands how to use the program, how to properly input data, and where to store client documents. Without proper training, bad data can overrun a system incredibly quickly. Think about how many times your phone rings throughout the day. Every one of those calls represents new data being collected. If you don’t have a database administrator who is ensuring the people answering your phones know how to collect and capture that data, then it’s likely being put in 1,000 different ways. That’s not clean data! Your database administrator can set up solid training programs and verify on a regular basis that the data going into your system is useful and in the right place.

Selecting a right-fit candidate

Both small firms and large firms should look for an ideal candidate that has excellent problem-solving skills. They should be able to work independently in a support role and maintain a strong sense of integrity in the oversight of personal sensitive data. They should also be able to work well with each department in order to structure data in the best user-friendly ways. The candidate should be skilled in analyzing reports to understand the “story” data is telling. This helps with using good data to identify bottlenecks or performance defects. This role will be instrumental in the success of your firm. Take the time to pick the right person for the job.

Firms who have a dedicated database administrator are able to see the bigger picture and make smarter business decisions based on solid, clean data. There’s great power in that. An exceptional database administrator can truly help your firm reach the next level of success. They’ll become an integral member of your team and help provide the key metrics that your leadership team will need to continue moving forward.

Can You Hear Me Now? Tips for Effective Client Contact

Your phone is ringing again, and the Caller ID shows that it is the same client you talked to yesterday and the day before that. They’re looking for another update. These types of client calls can pile up quickly and take a chunk out of your day. You’ll find yourself reacting to these calls, leaving very little time to actually work on the case. Every day will feel like Groundhog day over and over again!

There is a better way.

Implementing a robust, proactive client contact system and training your team to obtain all needed information during calls will serve two critical purposes: First, it allows your team to work more effectively and efficiently and frees them up from fielding what can be constant and repetitive calls. Second, it instills trust in your clients and increases the level of satisfaction they feel while your firm is working on their case. It also, crucially, puts your firm ahead of the competition.

Establishing a client contact system

Most successful plaintiff firms have a set rule that clients are to be proactively and regularly contacted. Many firms set a benchmark of every 30 days throughout the life of the case for contact by case managers and every 60 days for contact by attorneys. This is perhaps the most important and most closely monitored non-negotiable rule established by law firms. The content of the contact will change depending on the status or stage of the case. In this blog, we will focus on 30-day contacts by case managers that take place during the treating phase of a case.

During the calls, you, as a case manager, should:

Take the time to form a bond with the client

Remember that you are the point of contact for the client during a very trying and scary time in their lives. Many clients have never had experience with a law firm before, which may leave them apprehensive about the process. It is up to you to make them as comfortable as possible. Too, during these calls, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the client, including gathering some personal nuggets of information. These can be pure gold and, when used correctly, can serve to increase client satisfaction exponentially. Record these nuggets in your case management system and train your team to refer to them in order to make the client feel special and remembered.

Show compassion and empathy

Try to use one of the personal nuggets recorded in the client’s file during the conversation. Demonstrating that you remembered something about them shows the client you care and makes the conversation more relaxed. Put a mirror near your monitor so that you can see yourself when you are speaking on the phone. A client can hear frustration in your voice, and they can also hear a smile! Remember that you are there to support the client and ensure they feel heard. If they are struggling or frustrated, show them some compassion, understanding, and empathy.

Really listen to what your client says

These 30-day contacts should be phone conversations, not texts or emails. When you send a text to someone and ask them how they feel, you can’t hear their pained voice or exasperated sigh when they text back, “okay.” When you have them on the phone, you can hear the inflection in their voice when they answer you and then you can dig deeper with the recommendation to make sure they convey new symptoms to their treating doctor. A lot of times, clients are hesitant to say they are still hurting, and they may even feel embarrassed to complain.

Be prepared

Always review your notes of the last call you had with them in preparation for the next one. Review the file to see if there are any missing items they were responsible for sending to you, like copies of health insurance cards or lost wage information. Before you make the call, have a template that includes the key questions you’d like to ask. Use the template to create your note in the client’s file. It is imperative that you DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT this conversation with the client. Many times this information can be used to help with the development of the demand. Don’t assume anything. Ask your questions each time you talk to the client. This template should evolve as the case does so that each question is pertinent to the phase the case is currently in.

Here’s an example of the kinds of questions that should be included in your template:

How are you feeling?
What is your current pain level (1-10)?
Are you still treating with doctor _______?
Have you been released from treatment, and if so, when was your last day?
Are you having any new pain issues? Any new complaints?
Are you taking any new prescriptions related to the injuries from the accident?
How are you feeling overall?
Have you been writing down any problems with day-to-day activities such as caring for children, performing household chores, doing your job, etc.?
Has your doctor discussed any other type of treatment or procedure that you may need? (Examples include: MRI, CT scan, injections, surgery, physical therapy, etc.) If so, have you been referred to another facility?
If you have been referred for additional treatment, when is the appointment and where?
Have you missed any work due to the injury and resulting medical care?
Did you receive any notes from the doctor to cover this time off?
Have you been keeping a log of missed time?
Do you have any out-of-pocket expenses?
Are the vehicle repairs complete?
If the vehicle was a total loss, have you received the payment?
Is there anything else we need to know about?
Let me remind you about a few things:
  • Social Media Posts: Remind them to be careful about what they post in order to avoid damaging their claim. Provide examples of what is and is not okay to post.
  • Items you still need: Remind them to send in any information you’re still missing, like pertinent photos and bills for accident-related treatment.
  • Who to talk to: Remind them not to talk to anyone from the insurance company unless it is about their property damage.
  • Keep you updated: Remind them to notify you if there are any changes you need to know about, like a switch to new health insurance.

Proactive communication with your clients will prevent MOST, but probably not all, repeat phone calls. Some clients really need that regular check-in that they have the power to initiate. That’s okay. The reduction provided by the implementation of a proactive client contact system will provide a significant time saver for your team. That saved time, when approached thoughtfully and strategically, can provide the ability to move cases along quicker and maximize case values.

Tools, Training, and Expectations

Do you often feel like both you and your team members are frustrated by reoccurring issues, constant confusion, missed marks, and ongoing communication difficulties? If so, then it’s probably time to do some careful internal assessments. Ask yourself this critical question: Have you given your team the blueprint for success? Vista’s blueprint for a team’s success focuses on three key areas: Tools, training, and expectations (TTE). In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at each of these areas.


Proper tools are a fundamental part of success for each team member. Without the necessary tools, production lags and frustration runs rampant. Think of this way: Would you expect your mechanic to change a tire with a screwdriver?

Of course not! So, you can’t expect your team to function well without the tools they need to do their job. If they are trying to work on a computer that “freezes” every 30 minutes or use a software program that has not been updated in five years, they have not been given the tools they need to succeed. Every single team member should be provided with current, functional equipment, updated software programs and a comfortable work environment. Their workstations should include quality headsets (if they are in a department that spends a great deal of time on the phone), ergonomic chairs and keyboards, and access to a good quality copier/scanner. Giving your team the tools they need to do their jobs well will increase both productivity and morale. You will have conveyed to them that their jobs are a vital part of the firm’s success.


Next, every team member should be given the training they need to do their jobs well. Team members should be effectively trained on all software programs used, soft skills, and any tasks specific to their positions. Training should never be considered a “one and done” task.

Of course new team members will receive training as part of their onboarding process, but training should be ongoing for every single team member at your firm. Provide recurring training opportunities for your team. Institute weekly or monthly lunch and learn sessions that focus on key areas from which your team could benefit. Encourage your team to participate in continuing education. Growth, knowledge, and development should be an integral part of your firm’s culture. If you promote or hire a new team member into a leadership position, ensure they’re given leadership training. This will serve to set them up for success and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs well. Often, we think of providing ongoing education to team members in higher level positions, but training is EVERYONE’s business. Each team member should be encouraged to grow and expand their knowledge of their job role.


Setting expectations is a foundational element of employee engagement. Expectations, or the lack thereof, have the power to make or break a team member’s engagement and productivity. You can’t expect your team to know what success should look like if you haven’t provided them with clear expectations.

Expectations should, of course, be realistic and attainable. Team members who are reprimanded for missing a mark they didn’t even know existed can feel confused, upset, powerless, and like they have been treated unfairly. On the other hand, when a team member understands the expectations set for them, they experience a greater sense of job satisfaction and ownership. That means expectations can have a direct correlation to your bottom line by mitigating turnover and increasing productivity.

Every firm leader wants team members who are committed to the firm. The benefits of a committed, dedicated, motivated, and loyal team are boundless. When a new team member feels like you are invested in them and their future, they will be more dedicated to their job and have increased loyalty to the firm. They’ll know what they’re aiming for and be able to self-audit their progress.

We need to create measurements of success for our team members from the very beginning. These key performance indicators (KPIs) should be enforced objectively. Make sure the expectations are reasonable and can be accomplished. Be sure to COMMUNICATE them clearly. Don’t just set weekly or monthly KPIs. Establish additional metrics for time periods like 60 days, 90 days, and annually. Use these KPIs to effectively evaluate a team member’s productivity. Be careful though! If a team member misses the mark, use it as a learning opportunity, not a criticism. KPIs and related reports help the team member know what he or she is doing right as well as things that can be improved.


If you, as a leader, can confidently say you have given your team the tools to do their job well, the training on those tools and all aspects of their job, and you have set proper expectations, what happens if your team is still not performing up to par?

Team members who have been given the proper tools, training, and expectations but still are not performing either CANNOT or WILL NOT, and each is an issue. It comes down to competency and willingness. If a team member cannot perform up to par, they may need additional training or a modified job role. Those who will not perform despite being set up for success make for an easier solution…they are not team members that belong on the team! It’s time to free up their future!


Team members thrive when they know what they need to do, they’ve been trained on how to do it, and they’ve been given the proper tools. This is the simple recipe for success.

As you look around your firm and identify team members who may not be performing at their best, ask yourself if you as a leader have set them up for success. It’s never too late to right the ship, and doing so starts with leaders taking a close look at themselves and ensuring they have set the team up for success now and into the future.

If it ain’t broke… Should you switch your case management system?

Understanding how to assess if your current system is working for you is important because switching for the sake of switching is a timely and expensive exercise that can lead to frustration and the introduction of new pain points. If you have done your due diligence and determined that your current system is no longer the right-fit for your firm, it’s just as vital to take another critical step before you commit to another program. You’ll need to identify what you’re looking for in a new system before you start your search

More firms are adopting cutting-edge technology solutions to grow their business and better represent their clients. The right case management system can help you manage all the data each case generates and can synthesize that critical data to help you make good business decisions. Clients and employees are better engaged and more empowered by systems that perform the heavy lifting without boxing them into rigid processes that do not meet their needs. If you’ve made the decision to see what’s out there, consider these key goals a new system may be able to provide

There are many, many legal case management solutions available to law firms. In this crowded legal tech space, it can be difficult to know exactly which program will be the best fit for your firm. Our advice? Take your time. Choosing the best case management software program for your firm requires diligent research on the platforms available, a deep understanding of the needs of your firm, and identification of where your firm can improve its processes and workflows. The process of selecting and implementing a new case management system is a long road that holds the potential for big improvements. If you take the time to get it right, it could be a game changer for your firm.