In today’s episode we’re sharing a presentation by Ryan Andersen, co-founder of Filevine from MaxLawcon 2019. Ryan wants you to ask yourself, “Are you swimming once, instead of building a bridge?”
Watch the presentation here.
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Transcript: “Case Management” w/ Ryan Anderson
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
In today’s episode, we’re throwing it back to a presentation from Mac stock con 2019. Ryan Anderson, co founder of file, Vine shares his presentation on case management, let’s get to it. My job here today is to go really deep, I do not want to get up here and sell you a case management system, I don’t want to talk about any of that. What I want to do is tell you exactly how to do the things that the good firms are doing that your firm might not be doing. I know that there’s a lot of you that are doing maybe one or two of the things I’m going to talk about most of you or not. And if you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong. And I’m right, because file vine has about 1200 firms, they use the software, I talk to these people every single day, we add between 50 and 75 firms a month, I know what you’re doing, I know where your mistakes are, I know what’s working and what isn’t. And most firms aren’t doing the simplest of steps. So let me dive in real quickly. But before I do that, I do want to just say, I went to this conference last year, when I walked in, I thought, Wait, it must have been two years ago, because there’s no way Tyson and his incredible team have put together this conference. And it’s grown like this in only a year it has. Congratulations, Tyson. I just want a quick round of applause for him. What a community just absolutely fantastic. All right. Um, you know, when I was putting together these slides, one of the one of the people who one of our kind of graphic designers said, he’s like, I don’t think you need slides. This is a very technical audience. I agree with him. But I’m just gonna say this real quickly. We have, oh, here we go. We have this quote from The New York Times about laptops. And they essentially said, No one’s ever going to want to use laptops because quote, but when people really want to carry one back home from the office, obviously, we got better over time, obviously, we learned a lot of things. The New York Times was wrong. That was fake news. I don’t want to get political. That was fake news a long time ago. And we cannot take conventional wisdom to be true today, either. So I know a lot of you probably have your retainers that you’re generating, you probably have kind of letters to the client that you’re generating automatically. But the really good firms, maybe the top 10% of file line firms, what they’ll say is we have 500 documents that we need to generate within file line, how do we get started? Now, how many of you have 500 documents? You don’t need to raise your hand. But it’s, I doubt it’s half of you, I doubt it’s a third of you. Maybe you’re doing 10% of your documents. And the worst part is the documents that take you the longest are the ones you’re not doing. So what you should be doing. And this is simple, kind of basic stuff that I want you guys to learn how to do. settlement demand settlement statements, demands, depo notices service lists, medical chronologies, pretrial disclosures, why are you drafting these documents, they’re the same every single time. If you have a case management system, then the data should already be there. You’re taking the data in many cases, I’ve seen firms do this, I’ve watched it happen. They have the document on one side of the screen, the case management system on the other side of the screen, or worst case scenario, they’ve got their folders on the desk, and they open the folder or they open the case management system. And they take the data that cut and paste it from the case management system into the document. I know you guys are doing this. I’ve seen it. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. If you can’t generate a depo notice service list, pretrial disclosures based on the information that’s already in your system that somebody else put in for you a case manager, a paralegal yourself whoever it is, you are wasting a ton of time, just for a minute, a law firm with five attorneys. Maybe he’s taking what 20 depositions a month we’re talking one document, maybe maybe it’s 10 depositions a month we’ll say 10. You’re taking 10 depositions a month and it takes you a half an hour to prep those depo notices or takes a paralegal half an hour to prep those depo notices. That is an easy five hours a day you can give back to your paralegal that he or she doesn’t have right now. That’s quick off the table. Easy automation. Now, look, there’s been a bunch of questions like hey, how do we get started? This is a big lift. I I don’t know if I have time to code all these documents. So I have two things to say to that. Number one, don’t, you’re not going to, no one in this room is going to go back and code 50 100 documents, I don’t expect you to, that’s crazy, somebody at your firm is either going to, or you’re going to have to hire somebody to do it. And that’s okay, you have to get comfortable with the idea that either somebody you’re going to hire to do it is going to do it, or somebody on your team is going to do it. So let me give you my theory behind this. And this is a problem for lawyers. If you’re sitting in front of a river, and you need to swim across it, or you need to get across it every single time, every single time you come up on that river, it is easier in the first instance, to swim. And every single lawyer is going to tell me I don’t have time to do this, it’s way simpler for me to cut and paste this information to this document right now. Yep, you’re right. And it’s way easier to swim one time than to build a bridge. Once you’ve built the bridge, the efficiency gains aren’t five to one, they’re not 10 to one, they’re not 100 to one, they’re 1000 to one, they’re huge, they’re off the charts. But if you’re not willing to do it, you won’t gain those long term efficiency gains that really changed the complexion of your firm. And I’ll tell you, the good firms are in fact doing this via vine has implemented some of the top firms in the country, some of the very best plaintiffs firms, some of the very best mass torts firms. I don’t know in this audience who I’m talking to, Bob line has a number of defense firms, we implement some of the best of the best. And I’ll tell you the really good ones, they’re already doing document generation, they expect it. So if you’re not doing it right now, this is a time to kind of take internal note of the fact that it’s not happening at your firm, and it needs to happen. If you have file mine, feel free to call us up. We have vendors all across the country at this point who can do this for you. I’ve talked to some people here who said, Oh, hey, we talked to you guys a while back about that. We’ve got that now, right? We’ve got about 100 vendors across the country, in almost every single state who can set this up for you otherwise, find somebody or talk to talk to your own case management system doesn’t matter who you’re with, they should have people who can set this stuff up for you. There’s varying capabilities across the different systems. All right, this is a big one, the good firms and know who their good employees are and who their bad employees are. Seems simple enough. But do you actually know? Do you really know which one of your employees is doing a good job and which one of your employees is doing a bad job? You know, who complains, you know, who tells you how busy they are, you know, settlement numbers. Ideally, if you don’t know your settlement numbers by by staff member by attorney, that’s a whole different problem. I shouldn’t go deep for that, right? Like that’s basic, you should know that. But it’s hard to actually know how hard somebody’s working. It’s hard to know if you’re just getting a bunch of feedback from somebody who’s a squeaky wheel. But really isn’t that busy? Or somebody who might be quiet and not say, say anything? Are they actually super productive? You don’t actually know? Are they on Facebook all day? Or they’re in their phone? How do you actually know if they’re working? Look, at the end of the day, you have to know, it’s your job to know. And one of the ways you can do it is if your case says case management system has employee performance metrics, you can dive super deep. So here we’re looking at employee performance. So we can see Eugene, accessed 100, or excuse me, 1000 cases last week, she’s working, she’s doing a lot, because I think this is so important, because I know these conversations happen all the time, right? You say well, if you know, Bill at the office, we don’t really know how hard he’s working. We don’t really know how good he is. But you don’t have any hard data. You don’t have any way to actually know how hard bill is working or how hard Linda is working and what they’re actually working on. You just have intuition anecdote. The story of somebody with a political agenda at your firm who may or may not have your firm’s best interests at heart. I think we all know that there are employees that get the ideas in their head about who should and shouldn’t be working for you. That person might be right. They might not be right. But unless you actually know you’ve got a problem. And at least if you have a case management system with strong performance metrics, you can see who’s doing what, in your system. This is basic stuff. Otherwise, how do you actually how can you actually come to somebody and say, you’re not working hard enough, you’re not efficient enough, or you’re not working on this thing? You should be working on this other thing. fireline lets you do that a lot of other systems do. Those are basic steps that you got to know.
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All right, this is a big one, the very best firms are keeping their data clean. We have talked about a lot of things here, I hear a lot about intake. And by the way, I think there’s a bunch of systems out there that are great. I know Lee docket is here, I think they’re phenomenal. But there’s a bunch of really great ones bottom line, it doesn’t matter what vendor you hire, it doesn’t matter which software company you go with, for intake for case management for whatever it is, none of that actually matters. If the data is not clean, which means the people putting in the data, or the sources from which you’re getting the data have to be accurate. I can tell you it file line, there is one or two people one person, it’s their full time job. That’s all they do. They they run reports and they come to people and they say, Hey, you didn’t enter this data like you should have on this day, and the reports pulling wrong because of it. Now, look, I don’t think you at your firm should be hiring somebody just to run reports and watch the data cleanliness. There’s a lot of ways and five iron or in a different case management system that you can get this information. But if your data is not clean, how can you ever trust the you’re making the correct decisions? So one of the things that I think is that you don’t, you can’t really have a system, where you’re expected to go in and look for bad data, you have to have a system that comes at you and tells you, you have bad data. So there has to be some sort of alert some sort of mechanism that says, hey, I’m coming to you and telling you is your case management system, somebody put some piece of data in here, that isn’t right. And again, for those of you who don’t think this happens at your firm, dudes, I’m just gonna, let’s be real for a minute. We implement again, 50 or so firms a month, we walk into firms, and we’ll say, hey, so this social security field you have in, I don’t want to mention all the older systems, but there’s some older systems out there, this field for social security number half the time you guys are are putting the driver’s license number in it, do you want the driver’s license number and file fine? Or do you want the social security number and file line and inevitably, we’ll we’ll go ahead and migrate. And then the customer says, well, that’s where I kept my social security number, or that’s where I kept my driver’s license, and we don’t know what you want. So we’re having these molecular conversations at the at the field level of the actual data level. And I’m telling you, in the birthday field, in the I mean, you’ll have people putting insurance information in the police report field, they’re all over the place. And I know this because when we take out that backup data from systems that have been in place from 510 2030 years, it’s hard to even make heads or tails of what some of the people are doing with this data. And so then you turn around and you say, Okay, we need to make some business intelligence decisions, we need to see which cases settle for the most money, we need to say, what’s our ROI on these intakes on these leads on billboards versus internet, all that kind of stuff, that is useless, you can’t do anything, you don’t have the information, it’s not trustable, you have to have a way to audit the data so that you know if it’s correct or not. So what file vine does is it basically says, There are any number of fields that you choose in the system, we can basically say, hey, this data looks wrong, or it’s unfilled out entirely, you just didn’t fill it out. And what we have is a system called Auto tagging, but it will essentially alert you to any data that we think is incorrect. And it’ll throw it up in the upper right hand corner. So where that yellow tag is with the line around it, that’s an auto tag, no one, put that in file line went out, went and found it and said this is a piece of data that we don’t think is correct. So we’re going to put it up there, if you click, it will take you right to the field that we think is wrong, you can put in the correct data. So that’s the idea. And by the way, if you want to see, okay, hey, show me all my cases where I think that piece of data is wrong. You just type it in into the search bar, or you can run a quick report, click of a button. And you can see every single case where we think that field has been incorrectly entered. I can tell you the best firms, they do this. So if you don’t, you are behind the eight ball. That is not an exaggeration, you’re behind the eight ball. The best firms are running these audits all the time. If you go into the best firms and say, What are your estimated case values for cases you think you’ll settle in the next six months? They’ve got a list. They know they can pull it, they can say, Here’s my estimated case values for every case that we think has an estimated settlement date in the next six months. Pretty important, right? If you want to get litigation funding, or if you want to do some planning in your firm, and you can’t say what you think the fees are going to be over the next six months, makes it really tough. So you have to have the right data to be able to do stuff like that. So the best firms I have clean data. All right. I don’t know how many of you guys have heard me talk before, or have listened to a podcast or read anything that I’ve written. But this is like, this is my thing. This is my bag. This is what I talk about. This is what I think is the one big thing that no one discusses. But it’s actually the biggest time suck and every single firm. So I’ll tell the story that I’ve told before, I apologize for those who’ve heard me tell it already. But I think it’s important. I’ve spoken to a lot of lawyers, and one lawyer in particular, this is years ago, said to me, Ryan, you don’t understand, I get two to 300 emails every day. And they said that with a pride on their face, that was remarkable. This individual thought I have achieved a status in life that is so high, that 300 times a day, somebody put something on my personal task list without me asking. That’s essentially what they’re saying, right? I’ve got a task list. It’s an open protocol, anyone can put anything on it at any point in time, oh, by the way, they get to pick that it’s on the top of it, just by virtue of sending it last. And so it gets to sit up there, taking away my attention, and I get 300 of those a day. Um, super, super important. Obviously, I don’t think that is an achievement. I don’t think getting 200 emails is an achievement, I don’t think getting 300 emails is an achievement. I don’t think having an email inbox full of things that somebody else has asked you to look at or do means you have arrived in life, what I think is that you’ve got a big damn mess on your hand. And it that is not the right way to develop tasks. That’s not the right way to strategize. That’s not the right way to divvy out tasks in your firm. And if you were to sit down with me and ask me, the founding story of file, Vine, I would tell you, it is a story of my hatred, for internal email, email will kill your time, there is no way that if you’re communicating via email that your firm that you’re doing it in the most efficient way, here are the reasons if an email comes in from one from somebody who works for you, and says, I need you to make a decision about this case, for this thing. Let’s say they, the question is, please evaluate this offer that just came in from the insurance company for the Smith file. I know you guys have gotten those emails, you get them probably all the time, that email comes in. First of all, you’re distracted, the minute you see it, it’s about an offer. It’s about money, it’s something you’re going to deal with, you open the email, when you open the email, what is the next step? What is the very next thing you’re going to do? I mean, you’ve already taken your attention away from the thing you’re already doing, heaven forbid, you’re sitting with your family. But you’ve opened up the email, and your assistant says, look at this, look at this offer in the Smith case. Well, now you need to know what the hell is going on in the Smith case. I mean, maybe not you guys, but some of the lawyers I work with, they don’t remember every single detail about every single case, I don’t know, maybe you guys do. So the next thing you have to do is then find the Smith file. If you don’t have case management, and it’s not online, you’ve got a big problem, because the next time you can actually take a look at that is when you’re in the office. Assuming you’re living in 2019, you can open up your case management system, on your phone or on an iPad or wherever you are, and see what’s going on with the Smith file. But then you got to go into the Smith file, you have to look at the various data points in that file, you’ve got to see what the insurance limits are you got to see what the medical bills are, you’ve got to see what the chief complaint is, you’ve got to see what the clients been going through. You’ve got to see what the various communications were beforehand, you’ve got a problem that you probably want to see what who’s the insurance company? Do I know the adjuster? Do I have any trends I can spot with this adjuster? Do I see a reason why this case should be worth much more money do I see a reason why this case is probably not one to move forward with and go ahead and settle. There are so many important factors you have to go through when making that tiny decision. And yet it’s sitting in your email. The Right Place for this to happen is in file vine, or your case management system. I should I’m not trying to sell you a file line. But it should happen in a place where you can have communication that goes back and forth. That is contextual. Meaning the communication about the case is in the case, you don’t have to go outside of it just under half, zero. I’ll finish up, you don’t have to go outside of it. To see the information about the case you can communicate in the place that you live. I won’t talk about intake. There are great vendors for intake. All I’ll tell you is that you should be able to take the data and your intake and push it out to your case management system. That should all happen automatically. So you can run the reports you need and that so you can gather ROI not just on how much money it cost to get in that lead. But also what did that case resolve for so you can evaluate ROI by channel. All right. Thank you, everybody. Thanks so much for having me here. Tyson. You’ve done a great job, man.
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