The Importance of Data Transparency and Reporting in Selecting a Partner
Jon Robinson (00:04):
All right. Thank you everybody for joining us here for another Case Works stream. Today, we’re joined by Yehia Said from Datavative and Susan Barfield from Case Works. We’re going to talk about pros for using a third-party legal service provider. Before we dive into our topic, Susan, you just want to give us a little bit of background on Case Works?
Susan Barfield (00:25):
Sure, I’d be happy to. We are a complete outsource solution for law firms, so we provide case development services. And we really start working with the plaintiffs from the point at which there’s a signed retainer, and for mass torts, we work that case through the case development pipeline all the way through, either filing that case in an MDL or just getting it ready for settlement position.
Jon Robinson (00:50):
Thank you very much, Susan. Yehia, you want to give us a little bit of background on yourself and Datavative?
Yehia Said (00:56):
Absolutely. Thank you for having me here. I’m excited to be here and talk about this stuff. I love it and I’m going to be very passionate about it as we’re having our conversation here. But yeah, I did eight years in the Marine Corps prior to starting my endeavor on to the legal industry. In the Marine Corps I did several things. I did project management, I led teams of 35 people or so, I was a linguist for Arabic, just a little bit all over the place, Jack of all trades when it came to the Marine Corps.
Yehia Said (01:30):
But I transitioned and I was actually the director of operations at Weitz and Luxenberg where my path started with learning what does a plaintiff firm really do. I handled everything from working with business operations for single event cases to mass tort cases. And then fast forward a little bit, my partner and I, Bill, we created Datavative to mainly focus on helping plaintiff law firms with people, process, and technology. So, there’s a lot of components here within people, process, and technology and providing the right tools for the firms to be able to achieve the goals for themselves and their clients.
Jon Robinson (02:12):
So Datavative, Case Works, both third party legal service providers… We’re very fortunate to have Susan and Yehia here today to talk about this topic. Susan, can you talk about what some of the most commonly outsourced services are related to litigation support, specifically for plaintiff firms?
Susan Barfield (02:31):
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think different firms, just depending on their size and the volume of cases that they’re trying to acquire, really, they can outsource any part of the case development chain or the pipeline. I see firms that they outsource from the very beginning, acquiring the cases, and then that kind of moves on to outsourcing the record retrieval portion, really what we do under case development. Oftentimes, I’ve seen firms outsource to a group that has a lot of paralegal and legal providers that can fill the plaintiff forms that are required. And so really, I’ve seen firms outsource the entire process to different groups.
Jon Robinson (03:21):
Yehia, why should a law firm consider using a third-party service provider and what are some of the reasons why they should hesitate using a third party?
Yehia Said (03:35):
It really depends. So different firms have a different strategy for their growth and their timeline for that growth. So there’s single event firms that are going and just entering the mass store space and they don’t know what it’s like to enter that mass store, to go after an MDL with potential thousands of clients reaching out to them and the outreach, the phone calls that are going to come in, the empathetic staff that you’re going to need to get on the phone with these clients. So there’s a lot of unknowns in that space. But there’s also the firms that are large and they already know how to handle a large volume of cases, but they don’t want to spend the time building up those specific groups within their firms, like medical record ordering. They don’t want to hire and staff and train on how to order medical records.
Yehia Said (04:36):
One of the reasons that firms would hesitate in using a third party service is just the amount of information that you’re going to be sharing with that third service provider. There’s a lot of personal information that you’re going to be sharing about your clients and making sure that you pick the right service provider. So, you’re not just sharing your client’s information to somebody that you’re not going to trust and making sure that you’re creating a good client experience for your clients, specifically because these clients are going to call in. They’re going to need help, or they’re going to need updates, or they’re going to need help with filling out a specific form. So creating a good client experience for them so they’re not jumping from one company to the other and how is the other company going to represent your firm…
Yehia Said (05:25):
But when it comes to a service provider like what we would do, which is focusing on people, process, and technology, traditionally, small firms do not have very heavy technical backgrounds when it comes to technology and processes. So I think it’s a great idea because it helps firms scale from that world and from that side of the business.
Susan Barfield (05:52):
And I was just going to add, so many of the things that you just mentioned… And you said at the beginning you’re passionate about what you do, and so am I, so it’s exciting to be connecting with people that are like-minded and are as passionate about case development services. And you mentioned something about law firms picking or choosing the right provider, and I would even go on one step further and say that they need to choose or pick a partner and not just another vendor that does one aspect because it’s all about client experience, like you said. And if they’re using one vendor for this and one vendor for that, well, guess what? That one client or plaintiff is going to be getting calls from different groups. It’s confusing and they don’t understand.
Susan Barfield (06:33):
And so when confusion sets in, then they don’t trust, maybe, the process, and then what you said earlier, there’s still rep issues on their hands. So, focusing on what you’re talking about, the people, and the process, and the technology, that, again, what you said, scalability, that is where a company like yours and a company like Case Works really thrives and helps just make the industry better.
Yehia Said (06:59):
Absolutely. And to add to that as well, at the end of the day, these clients have been wronged by big corporations for whatever, whether it’s a device, or an injury, or whatever it may be, and they need to be treated with empathy. They need to be not jumped around from one person to the next, they need to be held with, processed with, care. So to your point, yeah, absolutely. Got to be very client centric…
Susan Barfield (07:27):
Jon Robinson (07:30):
So the two themes that I heard from both of you are the ability to scale quickly and having the right skillset that may not be available in house internally at a firm. Both great reasons why you should consider using a third party service provider versus looking internally… But if you do have the ability to scale internally and you do have these skill sets internally, then it may make more sense to keep things internal. Yehia, can you talk about some of the specific ways that you’ve seen data or technology support mass tort or PI litigation?
Yehia Said (08:06):
Yeah, absolutely. Just as a whole data and tech, when it comes to mass torts, and just the legal industry, I want to say it’s somewhat fairly new in comparison to the other industries that exist out there. But data is what’s going to drive a lot of these decisions. So in a multi-district litigation, in a mass tort case, there’s milestones that a firm should be following on a high level if we keep it high level. Marketing happened, intake after intake, was it retained or not retained after that? Are we ordering the medical records? Once we get the medical records, review of the medical records, and then just these various milestones all the way from marketing to settlement. Those milestones, you need to be able to see a 30,000 foot of all of your inventory of what your case inventory look like in those various milestones.
Yehia Said (09:04):
So then you can understand how to A, staff in your firm, or B, how to work with your partner, like at Case Works on, “Hey, I need more people, or I need X amount of scaling to happen because we’re hitting a bottleneck in this part of the milestone in our whole life cycle.” So that’s just one example of how you can use the data. I mean, in each of those milestones, you can get really granular, right? So for intake, how many phone calls are happening for converting a case? How many inbound calls versus outbound calls? What is your average handle time? So really refining your intake process all the way through to medical record review, plan or fact sheets, settlement, and so forth, how to refine each of those processes… Data is going to be key in all of it.
Jon Robinson (09:59):
Susan, can you talk about how third-party services, maybe your service specifically at Case Works, has evolved in response to COVID?
Susan Barfield (10:10):
Yeah. So interestingly enough, Case Works has been a remote company since day one. So since 2015, all of our team members have worked from home. And just like what Yehia was saying, I mean, we’ve leveraged technology. We let the data and the metrics dictate from an operational standpoint what we’re doing. And so, when COVID hit, thankfully we weren’t impacted like we’ve seen a lot of the other service providers and other law firms. In fact, during that pandemic and when people were really in disarray and their lives were turned upside down, and firms were really struggling with, “How are we going to do this? How are we going to transition people from home?” they didn’t have the infrastructure that a remote company has, to be able to not only drive operations, but to manage the people. And not everybody. Just because we had to be transitioned to a work from home environment, not everybody is really fit for that type of a work environment.
Susan Barfield (11:12):
And so we took the opportunity to step up and try to show up to the industry and offered our services at cost. But I think I’ve looked at different service providers and different firms, and kind of going back to Yehia’s point, everyone’s trying to leverage technology as much as they can. Maybe that’s not their strong suit, but understand that from a foundational standpoint, it’s a must to be able to drive their operations and make decisions on what is the transparency of the cases, and the case load, and such.
Jon Robinson (11:45):
Yes, system integration is also extremely important. That’s something that you and Ken have been able to do with Case Works, to be able to connect to law firms, case management systems, so that data doesn’t have to be manually updated.
Jon Robinson (11:59):
Yehia, I know this is something that you have a lot of experience with. What are some of the other ways that you’ve seen technology integration really be a lever that could be pulled for law firms to help make their firms more efficient, processes improve, etc?
Yehia Said (12:17):
Absolutely. Yeah, I think integration is a very important topic when it comes to just technology and data, right? Because law firms usually have a lot of siloed systems that are running in their firms. Whether that’s going to be the CRM or the case management system, like you were saying, having all of those systems talk in one way or another internally and externally… So with a partner, like at Case Works, how to make the systems talk back and forth so there’s complete transparency and reporting of everything that’s happened on the Case Works side, because at the end of the day, they’re still working on your clients. So having that integration, and I know Case Works has done this very well, where whatever is happening in their system, they’re able to push it directly into the client’s system, having those systems externally and internally, all connected, so then you can have executive type reporting, executive type dashboards, and then you can further drill down.
Yehia Said (13:21):
If your systems are all siloed and sitting in islands and they’re not talking to each other… I’ve seen it where you’re doing work in one system, entering data processing cases or processing client information, and then having to stop, same paralegal, or a different paralegal, has to go into another system, reenter the same exact information, or even go from email to case management system. So the efficiencies around processing these tens of thousands of cases is going to be key and a huge component of that is the integration like you said, John.
Jon Robinson (13:56):
Yeah. You worry about what the source of truth really is when you’ve got multiple systems with conflicting data.
Yehia Said (14:01):
Exactly. And every system is fighting with another system, and then what’s true at that point? And then reporting is great, but at the end of the day, you can have the transparency, the reporting in the dashboards, but which one do you trust and which one do you trust the most? So having them all integrated and talking is definitely key.
Susan Barfield (14:18):
Yeah. And I think something else you mentioned, Yehia, was the ability for them to talk to one another and then have consistent and overarching reporting capabilities. It’s so important to attorneys and to law firms, and paralegals, for them to be able within a few minutes, understand if the science changes or if there’s a new ruling that comes out. No one has time to go back and re review and look at case by case. You should be able to have the ability to run a report and have the data at your fingertips. And so, technology just really can propel a firm and put them in a position where they have full access and understanding of all of their torts.
Yehia Said (15:02):
Jon Robinson (15:03):
Yehia, legal technology, something that you know a ton about, you’re very passionate about, what do you see in the future of legal technology? Where’s it going?
Yehia Said (15:13):
That’s an interesting question, because I think what we’re talking about here today is a lot of what’s happening in the now. But I think there’s a lot of things that are being planned for in the future. There’s some firms that are going to continue doing it the old school way of getting the folder and the paper and processing the case. And that’s fine, that might be their way of processing their hundred cases. But when we’re talking about mass torts and we’re talking about these large litigations, where they could be tens of thousands of cases, you need to have automation. You need to have integration. You need to have transparency. You need to have data. So data analytics in this space was not a term that was probably used five, 10 years ago, as much as it is now and as much as it’s going to be in the future.
Yehia Said (16:06):
So I think, really, it’s going to be a lot of data analytics, everything to enhance processes, how to pick the right partners when you’re outsourcing some of the work, and building a positive brand for your firm. So in order to do all of that, it’s going to be a lot of data driven decisions. It’s not going to be gut decisions. It’s going to be decisions that are driven from real life information. And it’s not going to be information that is a week, two weeks, three weeks or four weeks old. It’s going to have to be real time information because, Susan, to your point about the science of a litigation, that’s constantly evolving. That’s going to continue to evolve as firms are doing the bellwether cases, and cases are actually going to court, and mitigation and discovery is actually happening.
Yehia Said (17:01):
Being able to predict what could happen based off of the information that you have, I think it’s going to be a lot of what’s going to be happening in the future. So CRMs and CMSs case management systems are going to be adapting to this new world of data. And I think a lot of law firms are going to be definitely working with the best systems out there to be able to hit that goal of becoming the best firm with data-driven decisions.
Susan Barfield (17:38):
Yeah. And I’ll add on to that, that’s awesome. I think you were talking about integration and automation, and we’re talking about how to support the firms. And I think that’s number one and that’s foundational, but then how do we utilize and leverage technology to also support the plaintiffs and keep them informed and engaged throughout the entire process? We know that these litigations can last three to five years, how do we keep someone informed and engaged three to five years? And so the only way to be able to do that is to partner with the right groups that have the technology that can send out automated messaging, keep people updated, and such. I think there’s just so many reasons why technology not only helps the firm, but it helps to even keep their plaintiffs involved as well, all the way to settlement.
Yehia Said (18:32):
Yeah, absolutely. The client experience is, again, the most important when it comes to this, because we’ve worked with firms that they’ve gone as far as building a real-time client portal. So information to the client is going to be key to making them happy and successful in the litigation. So building out client portals with real-time information, videos, sharing data, client outreach, and constant client outreach… It’s like you said, Susan, it’s a three to five-year mitigation cycle. It’s not like, “Hey, when I need something from you, I’m going to contact you.” It’s being proactive and not reactive.
Susan Barfield (19:09):
Jon Robinson (19:11):
Yeah. This is the use of technology that we’re seeing in other industries, some of the things that both of you were talking about, commonplace and e-commerce, today. I think legal just needs to catch up. So in three to five years, legal will probably be where we’re seeing other industries are now. Yehia, Susan, it’s been a great conversation. I think this has been one of our better recordings. So thank you both for joining us. Yehia, any last words?
Yehia Said (19:40):
I’m really excited. I mean, the whole point that Datavative was really born is because we want to work with successful businesses like Case Works to help law firms excel and scale their business. We have clients that are working with Case Works, but if we have a shared goal between all of us, which is A, to help the clients and be successful. And we get to work with Case Works and the top cutting edge technology to help with their touch points, work with our clients to make sure that they’re getting the best processes and the most efficient way possible to process these cases. I think there is a lot of this that’s going to continue to happen in this industry. I’m excited for what’s to come and thank you for having me join this. I think that it was really great.
Jon Robinson (20:43):
Yeah, excellent. Thank you so much. Susan, anything before we depart?
Susan Barfield (20:48):
Yeah. Well first, Yehia, thank you so much. You’re definitely passionate and that came through. And so like I said at the beginning, it’s always exciting to talk with other people that care as much about firms and case development as I do. I mean, one of our mission statements for Case Works is helping lawyers help people. So the more we can partner with like-minded people, the more plaintiffs we’re going to be able to help. And so that’s exciting. I guess the only thing I would say is if there’s anyone that has any questions or wants to reach out, I’d love for them to reach out directly to me, and they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can always go onto our website and read a little bit more about us, and that’s yourcaseworks.com. And again, just certainly appreciate anyone that’s listening and again, Yehia, for your time.
Yehia Said (21:34):
Jon Robinson (21:35):
Excellent. Thanks everyone.