Creating The Best Legal Practice Management Software - The SmartAdvocate® Story
My name is Jerry Parker. I’m a partner in the law firm of Parker Waichman LLP and have been successfully practicing plaintiff’s personal injury law for my entire career. I have a story to tell you.
I learned early on that success as an attorney does not automatically translate into success in the business of law. As our practice grew – despite using computer-based case management systems – we were unprepared to handle the increasingly complex business and management aspects of running a personal injury firm in today’s fast paced, highly competitive, and technologically demanding world.
At staff meetings without comprehensive legal practice management software, I found myself asking the same questions time and time again: "What's going on?", "What new cases have come in?", "What’s the status of this, or that, case?", "What’s going on with cases we have referred out?", "What settlement funds are outstanding and for how long?”
In response, I would be handed a bundle of papers which, I was assured, contained the information I was seeking. I may have had some of the information I wanted in my hands but it was certainly not at my fingertips and it was never complete or timely. To obtain a firm-wide management profile without legal practice management software would require sifting through a pile of papers, notes, and memos, followed by hours of constructing reports that would be outdated as soon as they were completed. In addition, calls to tens – if not hundreds – of co-counsel to get statuses on cases referred to them would be required. Most times they wouldn’t have the information either! I simply could not take the time required to complete this analysis while also performing my duties as an attorney. It was a nightmare.
Thus, in reality, we had no hard details about recent activity, critical deadlines and other vital information concerning the thousands of cases in our office, as well as those we had referred out to other law firms. Even with current offerings in legal practice management software, it wouldn’t be enough.
Whether it was in our firm inventory or had been referred out – we had no way to quickly assemble firm-wide management reports regarding the status, potential value, case age, aggregate insurance coverage, settlement offers, and updated medical information.
I realized that my firm – and those of my colleagues – was operating in spite of archaic case management systems. Moreover, these systems harbored breeding grounds for potential problems no lawyer wants to think about.
A Better Way To Run A Firm
I knew that this was no way to run a firm, and no way to represent my clients effectively.
I gave this problem some serious thought and assumed that there must already be a legal practice management software program available for personal injury firms able to accomplish these goals. After extensive research on the topic of case management software, I found that I was wrong.
While several law firm case management systems were on the market, none of them were reliable and comprehensive enough to provide meaningful information on every aspect of a large number of cases in a user-friendly format. Nor was I able to enter and retrieve key information at the breadth and depth that I required to run my practice...there simply weren’t entry fields available to record and track the information I needed.
In short, no single legal practice management software program provided all the solutions that a comprehensive case management system should. Moreover, none the systems performed with the level of detail, sophistication, and reliability needed to keep a firm competitive. None of the law firm case management systems we researched provided integrated email-based communication between my law firm, clients, and co-counsel. None of the software companies were flexible enough to adapt their software to meet my needs.
As a result – over a five year period – I developed a comprehensive list of features that I would want in a state-of-the-art case management program for my own office.
Such a program would provide an all-inclusive profile of the people, in- and out-of court activity, potential value, injuries, critical dates, status, insurance, and other vital information for every case, in or out of the office, at any time, in a simple and user-friendly format that did not confuse or intimidate my staff (or me!).
An Ideal Solution
This ideal legal practice management software would also present as much information as possible on one screen to avoid frustrating and time consuming searches, digging, clicking and misunderstandings. Shortcuts and other navigational tools would be a must. Special pop-up screens would ensure the user and the office that no critical information would ever be forgotten or overlooked. The final – and one of the most important requirements – would be the fullest integration and compatibility possible with Windows®, the World Wide Web and Microsoft’s Outlook®.
That 'wish list' for our legal practice management software started the ball rolling on a project that has been exhilarating, exhausting, expensive, and, above all, very rewarding. The project brought together expert technicians and programmers, experienced personal injury and trial lawyers, and management consultants. The final product is what I believe to be simply the best case management tool available anywhere, at any price.
I'm pleased to introduce SmartAdvocate®, a fully integrated case management system. Originally designed exclusively for personal injury and mass tort litigation practices. It is now in widespread use by litigation firms of all sizes and types. SmartAdvocate® solved my firm’s case management problems and our legal practice management software will solve yours as well. Contact me at 1-877-GET-SMART (1.877.438.7627) so that we can discuss putting the power of SmartAdvocate® to work for you and your firm.
- Jerry Parker
All trademarks remain property of their respective holders, and are used only to directly describe the products being provided. Their use in no way indicates any relationship between SmartAdvocate® LLC and the holders of said trademarks.