How Good Case Management Improves Case Quality
The Sargent Law Firm is a team of personal injury attorneys practicing in multiple California locations and in Idaho. The team focuses on providing the best client experience through communication, compassion, and culture. At the same time, they work extra hard to ensure their client’s are getting the compensation they are entitled to. In the past year they have resolved hundreds of cases ranging from $5,000 to $5,000,000. They have a reputation for great results and even better client satisfaction.
Three years ago, The Sargent Law Firm switched from their previous case management system to Filevine. After the transition, they quickly grew their firm, increased their caseload, and doubled their average case value.
Firm founder Ryan Sargent shared with us how Filevine resulted in dramatically improved case quality and increased the average settlement per case.
The Firm That Demoed Them All
Ryan Sargent isn’t your average attorney. He is passionate about understanding new technologies in law firm marketing and management. He collaborates with other techminded attorneys to develop best practices. He learns from top consultants. And in his quest for improved performance, he’s demoed nearly every case management software that exists.
“Before finding Filevine, I was never really happy with a case management software,” he says. The firm has used several other case management systems, but Sargent was frustrated by the systems’ built-in limitations, lack of updates, inability to customize, and the absence of real time reporting.
Sargent researched and demoed competing systems, hoping one day he’d find the one that could break through the noise and give him what he needed. The first hint that he had finally found it was when he learned that Filevine was not only cloud-based and highly customizable, but that it also improved the way he could communicate with clients.
Improved Client Communication Pays Off
“The biggest complaint clients have about personal injury attorneys is that they don’t communicate,” says Sargent. “That’s why we made communication the center of our practice.” The firm had already implemented rules to communicate with clients on a scheduled basis, but they didn’t have built-in support from their case management system. They still couldn’t engage with clients as often as they wanted.
“We’d have gaps in connecting with our clients during their treating phase,” says Sargent. “In that time, they wouldn’t be following up with their medical providers. They wouldn’t be getting the care they needed.”
Filevine brought a radical change to their practice. “We started using the Filevine workflow to make sure we contacted the clients every two weeks while they were treating. We made sure every single client got to see a doctor as well as any specialists they needed.”
And that frequent contact was made easier by Filevine’s text-to-case-file feature. “Clients ignore emails and don’t answer their phones. They want to text us,” says Sargent. The texting feature gives clients a direct line to their legal team, without attorneys needing to give out their personal numbers.
With improved communication came improved case quality. Before adopting Filevine, Sargent’s average attorney fee was $4,500. After three years of using Filevine, his average contingency fee has risen to $10,000. Filevine’s workflow has more than doubled the average fees from each case. This is despite state policy limits on attorney fees which reduce returns on some of his highest-performing cases.
Of course, these contingency fees tell only a sliver of the larger story, which is that his clients now experience better care throughout their healing process and receive higher results.
The Power of Collaboration
Higher fees aren’t the only changes The Sargent Law Firm has seen. Since adopting Filevine, they have been able to manage more clients, cases, and staff. In their three years of using Filevine they have tripled their caseload.
They’ve also been able to grow their legal team and expand across geographic areas. “We added two attorneys the year after we started Filevine,” says Sargent. “We added another one earlier this year and just hired a new one this week. It’s been steady growth. If I look at the data, it just keeps climbing.”
The Sargent Law Firm divides its legal team work into pre-litigation and litigation teams, so each member can play to their strengths. But this means the work requires intense collaboration and internal communication between attorneys and staff. Added to this is the challenge of working across multiple locations in California and Idaho.
“Fortunately,” says Sargent, “with Filevine it’s easy to be in two places at once.”
“My office isn’t just in one physical location,” he continues, “so it’s crucial that it’s in the Cloud. My office could burn down, and I’d just buy a laptop and we’d be up and running in a couple of hours. With Filevine the data is always safe and available.”
Sargent explains that Filevine has allowed them to collaborate better with co-counsel as well. “We have a lot of cases referred to us by other attorneys. Some of them are already using Filevine,” he says. “All I have to do is add their names to the file and vice versa, and instantly both of our offices have full access to the information we need. It’s seamless. It’s like they’re in our office.”
As The Sargent Law Firm has expanded in size and reach, its founder has noticed something unique about all this growth: “We’ve tripled in caseload, gross income and size. But I’m not working more. I’m less stressed than I’ve been in the past. From the quality of life perspective, Filevine has been tremendous.”
A Data-lover’s Dream
As a new attorney, Sargent heard from experts that he should always know his numbers. “I wanted to get a good handle on our marketing expenses and our ROI. Even though we weren’t spending a ton of money, I wanted to keep track of everything.”
Sargent is a disciplined data-keeper, who often repeats his mantra of “data in, data out.” Before Filevine, he tried to keep up on his numbers with a set of spreadsheets. “I tried to update them regularly, but I’d always fall behind and our data would get outdated,” he says.
But Filevine removed the need for unwieldy, external systems. “Suddenly I could see this steady tick upwards in our numbers,” says Sargent. “And I just dove in.”
Sargent began building the reports he needed in Filevine. He customized his dashboard to show the metrics that would diagnose problems and help him make decisions. “Even still I get new ideas and tweak my system,” he says. “It’s a moving target.”
The upshot is: he’s become a Filevine data guru.
“I can look at Filevine and figure out how to get exactly the data I need. I can search for any field to get the reports I want.”
Sargent understands that not all attorneys will use Filevine to its full potential. “I recommend Filevine for everyone. When I know an attorney who’s uncomfortable with technology, Filevine is really easy to use and can give them the simplicity they want.”
“But also,” he continues, “it’s almost like a video game that has levels from beginner all the way to expert. If you have sophisticated needs, Filevine is the most versatile and advanced system. It will match whatever your level of commitment is.”
Unsurprisingly, Sargent operates at the ‘expert’ level, constantly pushing the boundaries on what can be accomplished by Filevine. For him, regular updates and new releases are crucial. “When you’re using a case management system,” he says, “you’re entering into a partnership with that business. If they don’t regularly update, your firm is falling behind.
“It’s reassuring to know Filevine is continually holding up their end of the bargain, staying on the cutting edge and in the forefront with the software that they’re providing. That’s the kind of partnership I want.”