Legal tech, innovative marketing and good cashflow are key to successful personal injury practice

Innovation forum attendees hear about tools for boosting business

Legal tech, innovative marketing and good cashflow are key to successful personal injury practice
Dan Michaelson, Amanda Bafaro, Andrew Rudder and Stuart Grodinsky

Legal technology for processing data and enhancing innovative marketing, along with lending services to manage cash flow, are just some of the essential tools to develop a healthy personal injury practice, attendees were told at a recent webinar on innovation.

“Data is the most important thing when it comes to improving processes,” Stuart Grodinsky of The Process Fixer said at the Canada Legal Innovation Forum event. “What you need to do is make sure that all of a firm’s systems are talking to each other and that there’s a place in every system for that data to go.”

Grodinsky, an independent consultant offering business process improvement services, said he is a mechanical engineer by training, not a lawyer. However, his time in the automotive manufacturing industry and another seven years working on operations and business management systems for a law firm have given him insight into how law firms can become more efficient by automating processes.

Using technology to have all an office’s systems “talking” to each other can help smooth out workflow so that you don’t “hit a wall six months from now,” Grodinsky said, because there aren’t enough files to work on because not enough statements of claims were sent out. Or, the opposite can happen, where there is too much work and insufficient time or staff to complete it.

“So we can use data to measure that workflow and see that it fits your staffing requirements,” he said. “And it all starts with customer relationship management. Because you need to know how many leads are coming in and at what rate they’re turning into clients.”

With existing clients, Grodinsky said, legal technology can keep them connected with what is happening with their case. When a case reaches a particular milestone or there is a new development, technology is available that can send an automated email telling clients what has happened. This can be especially important in personal injury cases that can take years to come to some conclusion.

“The automated email can say something like ‘hey, we reached the next phase,’ and we’ll be booking an appointment to meet with you, but in the meantime, here is what typically happens, and one of our lawyers will be in touch with you, and by the way, here’s a video that explains things a bit more.’”

The importance of innovative marketing

Andrew Rudder, who founded his civil litigation practice less than two years ago, during the pandemic, said running a small practice can be challenging because “they don’t teach you how to run a business in law school.”

He added that he had to “learn a lot over the last while out of necessity, how to run a business and engage in effective marketing.”

One of the biggest challenges when you’re a new lawyer starting a law firm, he said, is that “you don’t have a lot of money to start, you don’t have access to a great number of resources to compete with the bigger law firms you are going up against, who have already established themselves.”

For Rudder, that meant finding innovative ways to market his skills without spending money on Google or Facebook ads. Instead, he uses a method called “earned traffic marketing” that “doesn’t require writing a cheque” but does require an investment of time. In his case, that meant writing a book on personal injury law, Catastrophic Impairment Law in Canada. He also uses social media, such as TikTok, to spread information about his firm and its services.

Also, because Rudder doesn’t have “an army of people” working for him, he relies on client intake software to redirect clients to his website. Once there, “as soon as they give me any information and want to book an appointment, I get notified, and from that point on, my job is to move them from being a lead to a retained client.”

To do that, Rudder said, you must earn the potential client's trust. To do that involves answering their questions, often with videos that he has already created that deal with various aspects of personal injury law.

“That way, they are learning more about the process without me having to sit down and have a one-hour conversation with them to go through that. And as they get this content, their trust increases because I’m teaching them and giving them value.”

The next step is to use automation to set up a retainer agreement, then arrange a meeting to go through that agreement.

As well, Rudder says he uses software that lets him know where people are finding him so that he can refine that marketing process that will allow him to “focus on the 20 percent of the things that can bring me 80 percent of the results.”

Cash flow is key

Amanda Bafaro, general counsel and chief risk officer with Bridgepoint Financial, says her firm provides financing for plaintiffs and lawyers to give them cash flow while the case progresses to completion. The company’s portal can also help law firms track and manage all the accounts. It also provides a platform for personal injury lawyers to look for experts they might need to argue on behalf of their clients.

“It’s an online market that has been very successful, using technology to improve the customer experience,” she said.

Dan Michaelson, with personal injury law boutique Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers, noted that the legal profession, like many, has noticed the efficiencies that have come with more adoption of virtual and electronic technologies. These include Zoom meetings that cut down on costs and travel to artificial intelligence bots that can look through thousands of pages of medical records and develop a chronology that lawyers can use.

“You still need a human eye that can scan thousands of pages of records “to help you find needles in a haystack” is impressive.

“All these processes are really pushing us forward as a profession.”

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