How to Create a Self-Managing Law Firm with Case Management Software

This was easily one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.

Outside of a meeting room during a mastermind, a small group of lawyers huddle around each other. The focus of their attention is on a lawyer who is showing them something on his laptop. This piques my curiosity and I move closer to find out what’s going on.

Turns out, the lawyer is showing the key performance indicators (KPIs) on his laptop that he uses to manage his law firm through his case management software (SmartAdvocate). Everything is there.

This lawyer could show us which team members worked on files and how much work each of them generated. This plaintiff’s lawyer didn’t have to wonder what was going on at his office, because the key numbers for his law firm’s team members were instantly available. I was blown away (and so were the other lawyers).

Mastering Your Key Performance Indicators

How many law firm owners are managing their law firms like Michael McCready, Esq., a highly successful plaintiff’s lawyer in Chicago and Indianapolis? Almost none. And that’s a damn shame because you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of your law firm and if you don’t know the numbers that make your firm successful, you won’t be consistently successful.

Mastering your firm’s key performance indicators is the key to your success. Do you have a general sense of what your key performance indicators are? Most law firm owners will have estimates of their key performance indicators, but that’s all they are, rough estimates. But when it comes to the key performance indicators that are most important, precise knowledge of your numbers is essential.

What Work are Your Team Members Doing

Every Friday at 4 p.m., Michael McCready, Esq. gets a report sent to him via email that shows “what everyone in the office did.” The “Staff Activity Reports” are generated in SmartAdvocate (Reports>Staff Management Reports>Staff Activity Reports).

“This will show me what everyone in the office did.”

Michael McCready, Esq., Chicago

The work performed by paralegal, Avilene, is broken down at a granular level. Using the Staff Activity Reports, Michael can tell that Avilene worked on 126 cases during that week. The Staff Activity Reports show the number of:

  • “Documents Generated”
  • “Notes”
  • “Client Contacts”, and
  • “Tasks”

With this weekly report, Michael can see that Avilene completed 195 tasks during the week and over the course of the month, she worked on 594 cases and contacted 566 clients. Michael can see that Avilene has done a lot of work and can then decide whether she is overworked.

Every team member at McCready Law has access to the Staff Activity Reports and each team member has their own scorecard. The team members can see how they are doing compared to the others on their team and there is a friendly competition to get more done. This, my friend, is how you grow and scale a law firm.

Knowing the KPI’s for Case Volume and Marketing

What is the division of your cases among your practice areas? For plaintiff’s lawyers, how is the percentage of premises liability cases in your firm compared to auto wrecks? Who is your firm’s top referral partner and how much $ have you generated from their referrals? You should have these numbers at your fingertips.

“With Case Browse, it allows me to keep track of what’s going on in the office.”

Michael McCready, Esq., Chicago

Case Browse is the most powerful function of SmartAdvocate. With Case Browse in SmartAdvocate, you can check any data point that you want to search. You can check the case volume by practice area as well as the number of cases assigned to each associate attorney.

Measuring Case Volume

Case Volume—By Practice Area: “Show me the number of dog bite cases.”

Case Volume—Assigned to Associates: “If I want to know all of the cases that have an offer that are assigned to Jess Jordan, Esq.” You will know if your associates are overworked and you need to adjust the case assignments.

Case Volume: “How many cases do you have that are in the intake phase? You can check the volume of cases in the intake phase, settlement, pre-litigation and litigation.

Courts—County Specific: With Case Browse, you can search by court, e.g., “Show all cases in Westchester County”.

Measuring Marketing Leads

With Case Browse, you can check the number of internet leads in November, the number of internet leads that have been retained by your firm and the number of referrals from your firm’s referral partners.

Internet Leads: “All the cases that came through the internet in November.”

Internet Leads—Retained: “How many leads through the internet were retained in November.”

Referrals—By Referral Partner: “See all of the cases that are opened that were referred by Harvey Wallbanger, Esq.” You can see all Harvey Wallbanger, Esq.’s referrals and the status of each case.

You can run a report of the lawyer referrals and email the list to your referral partners. This is a great way to keep your referral partners updated about the status of their referrals.

Making Sure Work Gets Done

With the Dashboards (Dashboards>Tasks) in SmartAdvocate, you can monitor whether specific tasks are getting done. Specifically, who was assigned a task and who was supposed to do it. On a weekly basis, you can keep track of how many overdue tasks there are.

But you’re just getting started. With Dashboards, you can track just about anything that is important to your law firm.

Medical Records: Go to “Medical Records Requests” and see which records you possess and which records you’re waiting for.

Negotiation/Settlement: “Settlement View” gives you a thumbnail of the facts for a discussion with a claims adjuster, e.g., incident, injuries, insurance coverage, liens, disbursements, etc.

Average Fees Earned: By practice area, e.g., auto, premises liability, workers’ comp.

“Average Time Open to Fee”: You can measure how long does it take from the beginning of a case to the end. You need to know this.

“Referral Source”: Measure the fees associated with your marketing campaigns. You will likely discover that attorney referrals generate the highest legal fees.

  • Attorney referrals: $81,000 per case
  • Internet: $24,500 per case
  • Client referrals: $53,392 per case

Overdue Dashboards: This Dashboard will show tasks that are overdue, e.g., “How many discovery responses are overdue?” Are there clients who have not been contacted in a while? The initial client contact should occur every 5, 10, 30 and 60 days, according to Michael McCready, Esq.

Stage Dashboards: This Dashboard will show the stage of every case, e.g., the status of pre-litigation cases might be “waiting for medical records”.

Status: The Status tells you where the case is, and what needs to be done to move the case along. This is how you track what needs to be done. The McCready Law Firm manages all of their cases by status.

“Critical Comments”: Anything you want someone to see when they open a case. You might want to warn the team, “This client needs extra special attention.”

Managing Your Cases with a WorkPlan

A WorkPlan in SmartAdvocate is essentially a checklist of the tasks that need to be performed for a case. The WorkPlan shows what needs to get done and who’s responsible for each task. To create a WorkPlan, document your processes and procedures for a lawsuit and add them into your case management software.

You should have a WorkPlan for each phase of a case, including an Intake WorkPlan and a Litigation WorkPlan.

Intake WorkPlan:

  • Client welcome package
  • Request medical records
  • Consultation with expert
  • Make decision (e.g., reject or accept)

Litigation WorkPlan:

  • File complaint
  • Check service of process
  • Serve discovery responses and demands
  • Schedule depositions of parties and non-party witnesses
  • File a Note of Issue and request a trial date.

With a WorkPlan in SmartAdvocate, you can measure the stage of every lawsuit in your firm. How many cases are waiting for depositions or a trial date?

The Ultimate Goal: A Self-Managing Law Firm

What should be the goal of using case management software? A self-managing law firm. A self-managing law firm is a firm that functions in your absence and you know what is going on at your firm when you’re not there.

Is this possible? Michael McCready, Esq. doesn’t do any of the legal work; he monitors and oversees the work of his exceptional team and gets updates on a weekly basis. This took time and wasn’t easy, but there’s no reason you can’t do the same.

The Best Case Management Software for a Plaintiff’s Injury Law Firm

The best case management software for a plaintiff’s injury law firm is SmartAdvocate. The tech support at SmartAdvocate is fantastic and you will get to know the team at SmartAdvocate on a first-name basis.

SmartAdvocate is made for a practice that wants to grow and scale.”

Michael McCready, Esq., Chicago

Read the original article here: