Building and managing a high-volume law firm requires different skills, processes, and practices than managing a small firm. In particular, scaling a firm to handle mass tort litigation requires three elements: the right technology, the proper use of outsourcing, and new sources of funding.
Law Firm Technology
When firms try to scale, they encounter bottlenecks that require technology. Inefficient intake processes, for instance, can bog down your practice and disrupt your finances. This is especially true in mass tort cases and other complex litigation. But technology can help firms streamline the intake process, enabling intake specialists to gather information and connect with clients more efficiently.
Technology can also automate the process of sending retainer agreements to qualified clients and following up with them if the agreements aren't signed right away.
Leveraging software solutions to ensure that all client communications are centralized and available to all team members, regardless of who sent the communication, is a valuable benefit to busy law firms.
Case management software can also manage documents efficiently and help you establish a client portal that allows the client to review the progress of their case without constant engagement from your staff.
Software can also help automate the assignment of tasks, timekeeping, invoicing, and scheduling.
Successful firms invest in technology that enables them to manage large-scale case development quickly and accurately. Implementing a technology solution that automates the process of sending firm-branded welcome letters to new clients and contacting prospective clients who haven't returned their retainer contracts will help you achieve high conversion rates for your clients.
Outsourcing is another strategy that enables firms to quickly scale to handle mass tort litigation or other large cases.
Hiring your own support staff requires a considerable expense of money, time, and effort. Your firm has to run advertisements, conduct interviews, make hiring offers, and onboard and train staff. Your staff would need to understand legal terminology, the qualifying protocols of the particular case, interviewing, and sales techniques. Your team may also need training and expertise in reviewing medical records.
The time required to supervise the additional staff is time taken away from settling cases or interacting with other clients. A firm that takes time away from its clients may have difficulty retaining them.
Outsourcing eliminates the need to hire and train a dedicated staff.
Your firm can leverage the support of a well-trained team—including nurses, medical professionals, and paralegals—for its mass tort litigation to ramp up your intake process and review medical records. Having knowledgeable, trained staff reviewing medical records can also reduce the instances of error and improve outcomes for clients.
Outsourcing allows your attorneys and paralegals to focus on other priorities, such as trial strategy and client advocacy, which further improves outcomes. For tips on outsourcing your work to qualified professionals, take a look at our work at Case Works.
Law firms turn to litigation funding sources to expand their mass tort practice and profitability for three principal reasons:
Manage risk: Partnering with a litigation funding sponsor creates liquidity for the firm by reducing or rebalancing income from contingency fee risk and arrears. Institutional investors familiar with the opportunities and timelines of mass tort case management have the staying power to manage the risk over the extended duration of a mass tort lifecycle. This keeps the law firm solvent and operating and helps offset additional expenses as the cases progress.
Drive growth: Working capital from a litigation funding firm can be used for marketing programs, expanded staff, case development fees, and other growth initiatives. In the event of a decline in economic activity, working with a legal funding firm can fortify existing client relationships, outmaneuver the competition, and win new clients.
Acquire and retain clients: Client-friendly engagement structures from using third-party capital can enable alternative fee arrangements and retain key clients. Ninety-one percent (91%) of law firms cite attracting or maintaining clients as the key driver in using alternative fee arrangements.
As you scale up your legal practice, make sure you invest in a strategy that will allow you to continue providing the best service to your clients. With the wise adoption of new technology, the prudent use of outsourcing, and smart financial decisions, you can build an efficient, effective, and fast-growing law firm.
About the Author
Susan Barfield is the Founder and Chair of Case Works, LLC, using technology and proven protocols to deliver industry-leading mass tort case management solutions.