Why Case Works Culture Matters to Your Firm and Your Clients

By Susan Barfield
June 13, 2023

Susan Barfield (00:06):
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining another Case Works stream. We are joined today by Mary Mick, and she is one of our Project Managers, and we are going to be talking about all things Case Works culture. I know we talked about culture. I did a stream a few weeks ago with Sean Harper, and we talked about his experience playing football and how culture and core values can be represented on-field and off-field and how that helps in all things of life.

But today we’re going to talk about culture and why does the culture at Case Works matter to your law firm? And why does what we do here at Case Works, from a culture perspective, why does that matter to your clients? And we’ll dive right into that. But before we get into talking about the culture at Case Works, Mary, I would love for you to give us a little background, who you are and what you do here at Case Works.

Mary Mick (01:05):
Sure. Yeah. Thanks, Susan, so much for having me on today. I really appreciate it. I love talking about culture and I love talking about Case Works. My role currently at Case Works is to direct our Service Operations department, and that’s comprised of three groups: it’s our Client Success Managers, our Project Managers, and our Learning and Development Team who leads all of our training.

Susan Barfield (01:28):
Yeah. I was just on a call earlier with a law firm, and they were talking about sending us tens of thousands of cases. And they said, “Well, what happens if we get a notice that there’s a deadline coming up in a couple of weeks?” And I immediately thought of, “Well, I’m going to call Mary to say…”

Mary Mick (01:48):

Susan Barfield (01:49):
“There’s a deadline. What resources do we need to be able to accomplish those goals?” And so, they were really impressed that we had PMP certified folks on our team to help navigate and be able to look at the deadline, look at the resources, and, “How do we move those projects forward?”

Mary Mick (02:06):
Yeah. Absolutely. We have folks that are PMP certified, that are program management certified. And the majority of our operations staff is equipped with their master’s background and even graduate studies, so a lot of really talented folks on our team and in the department.

Susan Barfield (02:21):
Yeah. Well, just to kind of set the stage and why we’re here today talking a little bit, I wanted to interview you and talk to you and talk about the culture and our core values, because it is of my strong opinion that whenever we come alongside a law firm to partner, to provide our services, what we do here matters, not only what we do, how we do it, but the talent that we bring in. And we talk a lot about at Case Works, the right people in the right seat.

Mary Mick (02:55):

Susan Barfield (02:55):
You can have the right person in the wrong seat, you can have the wrong person in the right seat. And when you have a misalignment of those two, it’s problematic. It’s problematic from a productivity standpoint and from a cultural standpoint. We need talented people that understand the core values, because at the end of the day, our culture and these core values are really at our DNA. And it’s the DNA of Case Works and who we are, when we wake up on a daily basis, the work that we care about, we have integrity, the way we interact with these plaintiffs in this empathetic way. And it all stems back to we’ve got to be grounded in the culture and in our core values. So very first thing, I’m just going to ask you, can you rattle off the core values, our five core values, for everyone?

Mary Mick (03:47):
Yeah, absolutely. We have five core values and we have: love, own it, badassitude, five-star leadership, and then collaboration.

Susan Barfield (03:57):
Yeah. That’s perfect. Maybe do you want to share just a little bit, kind of a high level, about each one of those values and why we’ve chosen those five core values? And we’ve had those, gosh, it’s been many years that we established those are the core values that are going to make up Case Works. But maybe just give a little high level of each one.

Mary Mick (04:17):
Yeah, yeah. Definitely. So our core values, they come up often. I’ll give a little description here, but I’d like to share the frequency that we’re tapping into our core values and using them across the enterprise. So we do a lot of fun social events where we’re doing hashtags regarding our core values. We have voting and contests and events, all surrounding recognizing our teammates and our colleagues for exuding our core values. So not just doing the scope of your job necessarily, although we look at that too, but it’s, “How well do you exude our core values?”

And so, when I think about them from a project standpoint, from a training standpoint, for our client success managers as they’re engaging with the attorneys and helping to drive these cases forward, the throughput is the core values. So love, we love what we do, so love, love for your teammates, love for your company, love for yourself.

That ties into collaboration. And so, like you mentioned earlier, we have deadlines that come up. And deadlines can oftentimes mean stress. It can mean we have to become really nimble, agile, and flexible in what we’re doing. And so, at that time as a project manager, I’m going to say, “Guys, we’re going to have to tap into a higher level of collaboration: working well together, making sure that our departments are communicating as frequently as they can, especially regarding those deadlines, and in particular any requests or updates that we receive from attorneys regarding their cases.”

The next one would be, let’s see, where to go from here? Own it. Own it means, “Just do it.”

Susan Barfield (05:47):

Mary Mick (05:48):
If it crosses your desk, whether that’s the hat you wear for that day or not, the onus is on that person to make sure that the task is either accomplished or that they have a successful handoff to whoever the subject matter expert is in that area.

We have five-star leadership. Five-star leadership is doing what’s right; whether you’re on a call of a hundred people or you’re quietly working in the morning, that you’re exuding leadership skills.

And then, what’s left? What else did we have here, Susan?

Susan Barfield (06:20):
Well, the funnest one to say, the badassitude.

Mary Mick (06:22):
Yes, the badassitude. Gosh, that one. When I first came in at Case Works, I thought, “Can I say that one loudly or not?” And I hopped on a town hall and Susan was like, “We’re such badasses. We accomplished X, Y, and Z two weeks early.” And badassitude is just rocking it, having a sense of winning and perfection and being a badass about your job.

Susan Barfield (06:47):

Mary Mick (06:47):
Loving what you do and doing it well.

Susan Barfield (06:49):
Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate you going through those. And I’ve gone back and forth lately over the last few months, get with five-star leadership. Of course, we will never get rid of five-star leadership, but considering five-star customer service as another core value.

Mary Mick (07:07):

Susan Barfield (07:08):
Because we have just been so hyper-focused over the last few months, especially with you kind of owning the training with our agents, in that really every interaction that we not only have with one another, but with the attorneys, paralegals, our law firms, and also extremely important is with these plaintiffs, every interaction, that person should be walking away, what we say is wowed, “Wow.” If it was a plaintiff, they’re on the phone with someone. It’s like, “Wow, that person I just was talking to so very much cares about me, my situation.” And so, I’ve been kind of toying a little bit with five-star customer service, because at the core of who we are, we’ve got to provide that to everyone we come in contact with.

Mary Mick (07:56):
Absolutely. And it starts at home.

Susan Barfield (07:59):

Mary Mick (08:00):
I share with my team, we roll out the red carpet in any and every interaction. We do it internally and externally. The wow factor needs to be in-house, but we can carry it forward in spades out-of-house.

Susan Barfield (08:12):
Yeah. Well, I’m glad you said that. It makes me want to ask, what do you think are the values that you represent the most?

Mary Mick (08:24):
I wear many hats.

Susan Barfield (08:25):

Mary Mick (08:25):
And so, I think depending on the hat that I’m wearing is what value I might be exuding the most for that day. But overall, I would say own it. If I had to pick one, it would be own it. Just get it done. If you see that there’s something that needs to be worked on, figure it out to the best of your ability and make sure that you see it all the way to completion. I tell my team, “There’s a very big difference between 99% and 100%, and that 1% really matters.”

Susan Barfield (08:52):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s just going that extra mile, even if you weren’t called to do it. And I guess if I think back to own it, and when this core value came to mind many years ago, it was kind of this mentality of moving away from a vendor mentality and being viewed and seen by law firms as a partner. And when you have a true partner, they are aligned in your future success. And they understand that if you’re successful, the firm is going to be successful, and then it’s going to be a long-term partnership. But don’t punt things back to the law firm just because maybe it’s not “your job.” Anything that we can do to provide a great experience for the plaintiffs or get something done for the law firm, everyone at Case Works needs to own it. So that’s kind of where it started, and we’ve certainly evolved that over the years. But I think that’s a great example.

What role do company values play in employees’ daily performance? And I kind of started this, I’m curious what you think. When I started talking when we started recording the stream, it’s like how do the employees’ daily performance directly impact the success of the firm and the relationships with the plaintiffs?

Mary Mick (10:14):
Yeah. That’s a great question. I could talk about this for quite some time, so you’ll have to cut me off, Susan, if need be. For us, let me give an example. I think you’ll see this in any enterprise. The start of a week on a Monday can be kind of ramped up. We’re ready to go. And then, you could see on a Friday maybe things are winding down. That’s a natural course of a work week. And so, for me, in my role, and I know for many other folks in leadership roles at Case Works, we’re really cognizant of what it is we’re trying to accomplish that day or in that particular meeting, and being mindful before we enter into that meeting, “What are the core values that I need to exude?”

For example, I’ve got a call here in about an hour. I know it’s probably one of the last two or three calls of the day for some folks, so I’m going to be thinking about, “I need to really make sure that I’m exuding a lot of love on this call. We’ve been pushing hard. We’ve had some deadlines, and I need to make sure I take the first couple minutes to express some love and gratitude for the team.” And then likewise, the team, hoping it will be nice and framed for that meeting so that we can have a collaborative session.

Susan Barfield (11:15):

Mary Mick (11:16):
And then, the output of that is we’re really clear on who’s going to own what so that we can fully own it. I think our core values, they tie in beautifully with our mission, that’s by design, is we’re helping lawyers help people. And the core values stemmed from that in terms of, “What are the values we need to have to have a successful mission?”

And all of this impacts the plaintiff directly. So when I get on the phone, or an agent gets on the phone or a case manager hops on the phone, and they’re talking to one of our firm’s clients, one of these plaintiffs, we’re thinking about, “How can we provide an empathetic experience?” We want to demonstrate empathy. We want to own whatever it is that that client is needing in the moment. We want to show love to our client, and then we want to turn around and communicate to our operations team, “Here’s where we need to collaborate to get this next item done.”

Susan Barfield (12:03):
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we’re trying to create raving fans with these plaintiffs, for sure.

Mary Mick (12:10):
Yes. Mm-hmm.

Susan Barfield (12:10):
When you think about personality types, and I guess you know everyone here at Case Works, and those that have done well and maybe those that have really struggled. What do you think is the personality type that can really thrive in this type of culture?

Mary Mick (12:26):
I think multi-faceted. So you need to be okay with an agile mindset and an agile working environment, and that’s also by design. The landscape of litigation is such that we could find out at the end of the day today that there’s a deadline, and the courts have determined this and it’s due next week Wednesday.

Susan Barfield (12:46):

Mary Mick (12:46):
So you have to be willing to be able to shift and be flexible to meet the demands and the needs of the business, so agile. I would also say just tenacious. Sometimes we don’t have all the information because the courts don’t have all the information.

Susan Barfield (12:59):

Mary Mick (13:00):
So you have to stick with it, stay with it.

Susan Barfield (13:02):

Mary Mick (13:03):
Do the very best you can today with the information you have, and then do even better tomorrow when you have new information.

Susan Barfield (13:09):
Sure. Yeah. No, I appreciate that. Let me ask you about your professional development and career growth. How do you think Case Works has supported that?

Mary Mick (13:20):
Oh, gosh, lots of ways. So I mentioned earlier that we have kind of networking things that we do in-house. We have some really fun online social platform events that we do. We have really well-structured one-to-ones with our teams and our direct reports. We also have a benefit that’s afforded to us that allows us to pursue continuing ed and some funding that is supplied for that if we choose to opt into that.

In terms of being able to share candidly, “Hey, I really like this task I’m doing. I want to do some more of that.” Also, “I’m interested in learning more about…” Let’s say I’m doing some type of reporting behind the scenes. Before, I’m looking at the data from the report and I have an action item, now I want to know how to run that report and have a little more ownership in that area. Any employee at any time can express that. And in my experience so far, there’s someone that wants to show you how to do it and give you the chance to do it. It’s nice. A lot of companies have just a lot of red tape.

Susan Barfield (14:25):

Mary Mick (14:25):
And so, maybe you can’t be as nimble as you need to be to try out different tasks. But at Case Works, you’re able to do that, which is great.

Susan Barfield (14:31):
Yeah, for sure. I know we’ve had individuals that, gosh, they’re 100% the right person for Case Works, but they’re struggling in the right seat. And from a mutual discussion it’s like, “Well, we don’t want to lose them. They’re so talented.”

Mary Mick (14:48):
Oh, yeah.

Susan Barfield (14:49):
And we really want to understand, “If you could whiteboard your role, and knowing what we do here at Case Works, tell us the hats you would want to wear.” And I think that that’s important because we need to like what we do. When we like what we do, then we do more of it and we become better at it, the more we do it.

Mary Mick (15:09):

Susan Barfield (15:10):
So I agree. I think there’s ways.

Mary Mick (15:12):
Exactly. And then, probably the personality types that I’ve seen, and this is just kind of how it is. Even in project management, there’s the traditional waterfall and then there’s more the agile or hybrid ways of working through project management, just like with personalities.

Susan Barfield (15:26):

Mary Mick (15:27):
We have most folks on the team are incredibly agile in their mindset and their approach. But folks who probably would struggle a bit, and I have seen struggle, are folks who become really rigid and need the plan that we set forth for the next six weeks to stay exactly as is. But Case Works isn’t designed for that. We’re designed to meet the requests of the attorneys and the way the winds are blowing with litigation. So we’re going to adapt and we’re going to pivot. A lot of times, we pivot within 24 hours.

Susan Barfield (15:56):

Mary Mick (15:57):
So our team’s pretty good. I love talking about our team.

Susan Barfield (16:01):
Yes. And I agree. I think while we are a protocol-driven process, we love protocols and by goodness we’re following those protocols, but those protocols have to change on a dime sometimes, like you said.

Mary Mick (16:13):

Susan Barfield (16:13):
And I agree. I think that’s one thing that when people ask me something similar if we are interviewing or during the hiring phase, if I have an opportunity to talk with them, they’ll ask us, “Why have people not done well?” And the first thing that comes to mind are those that don’t adapt well to change, because this is an ever-changing industry. And like you said, we might, today by five o’clock, get a call from attorney and say that they just found out there’s a deadline next week. And given the volume of cases that we work on, it can be substantial.

Mary Mick (16:48):

Susan Barfield (16:49):
And so, we need people that roll up their sleeves and exude our core values and are willing to dig in and hop in, even if it’s not their “hat” that they normally wear and help out.

Mary Mick (17:02):
Absolutely. Yep.

Susan Barfield (17:04):
Okay. What makes you proud to work at Case Works?

Mary Mick (17:07):
What makes me proud to work at Case Works? Well, there’s several things, but for me, I really enjoy the privilege of having an emotional buy-in to the work that I’m doing. So getting out of bed every day, it feels really good to know that my work is contributing to justice for our plaintiffs.

Susan Barfield (17:23):

Mary Mick (17:23):
It was one of the good selling points for me when I signed on at Case Works, to know that what I’m doing today, it matters. This livestream, this matters. The operational work that we do behind the scenes, it matters. And so, I’m proud to have a mission that we have, and I’m really proud to be associated with my colleagues because we have just an amazing team. I’m here today talking about this, but there’s so many dozens of folks that would love to come on and be saying the same thing that I’m saying right now. And I just really thank you, Susan, for having me.

Susan Barfield (17:52):
Yeah, for sure. I know you’re a numbers geek like we are, and we like numbers and metrics.

Mary Mick (17:58):

Susan Barfield (17:59):
And we get really caught up, because at the end of the day, we need to produce, we need to move these case through the case development pipeline. We’ve got to keep plaintiffs engaged throughout kind of a long time period. But we’ve got to step back and remember that, “Yes, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of cases, but these are thousands and thousands of lives.”

Mary Mick (18:21):
These are lives.

Susan Barfield (18:21):
These lives have been impacted. And while you and I aren’t necessarily on every single call talking with folks, we listen to calls all the time, we hear firsthand how these people’s lives have been negatively impacted, and then how our team is not only exuding the values, but talking to them in an empathetic way. And so, we get to hear, kind of by listening to calls, just how we are impacting these plaintiffs in a positive way.

One question I know that I think is really fun to talk about is how we celebrate success here at Case Works. And I think we have such a team filled with talented people that really help drive the productivity, which for law firms and attorneys, that drives their ROI and it helps to move these cases forward. But we’ve got to be able to celebrate along the way. It can’t just be heads down day in, day out, which it is, but we’ve got to celebrate and come together. And so, how would you describe the ways that we celebrate each other and the wins here at Case Works?

Mary Mick (19:25):
Yeah. We do this on many levels, so I’ll start small and kind of work my way up from there. So for department leads or any of our team leads and even our directors, we have a loose pact, if you will, that when we see someone doing really well in a meeting or we see an awesome email or we’re seeing some really great collaboration, if you will, in one of our chats, there’s times that we’ll take a little snapshot of that and send it to whoever that person’s direct report is and shout them out.

Susan Barfield (19:56):

Mary Mick (19:56):
And this gets rolled into maybe one of our town halls that we’re having or for our Festive Fridays that we may have. We’re shouting out our teammates and recognizing the work that they’re doing and how they’re exuding the Case Works core values. So that’s one example.

Other things that we do, and I’ll say I think this is a really nice touch. When folks are celebrating their anniversaries here at Case Works, they’re going to hear from leadership. They’re going to hear, “Thank you so much for being at Case Works. We’re glad to have you. Is there anything that you need? We’re here for you. Here’s our cell phone, would love to connect. Let’s grab a virtual lunch sometime.”

And then, on a larger platform, we have social events that we do. They’re really fun. It’s like a gamified online portal where we jump on for 30 minutes, maybe even an hour. And while you’re with your work folks, it’s not work related. So we’re playing games and we’re letting loose, letting our hair down for a little bit and just celebrating, maybe hitting that big deadline or just the fact that we had a really great quarter.

Susan Barfield (20:59):
Well, I heard, and I didn’t get invited, but maybe because I was asleep.

Mary Mick (21:03):

Susan Barfield (21:03):
But we went until 1:00 for one of those deadlines for several days, and I heard that when the deadline was met, several folks got together and popped a bottle of champagne. And I thought that was really fun.

Mary Mick (21:15):
Oh, yeah.

Susan Barfield (21:16):
They toasted one another for that deadline, and they deserved a lot more than a bottle of champagne having worked around the clock for several days. So those kinds of things are a lot of fun. And I just want to end on, we’ve talked about the things that we do here and the culture. But in your perspective, how do you think the culture, our talent, ensuring we’ve got the right people in the right seat, how does that positively impact law firms and their plaintiffs, or I guess their clients?

Mary Mick (21:48):
Yeah. So you’ve got to have the right people doing the right things at the right time. And so, in terms of how does that benefit the attorneys, how does that benefit our plaintiffs? Well, one, they have to be the right fit based on culture. You can know how to do the job, but if you don’t fit within our culture and aren’t emotionally invested into our mission or exuding our core values, that’s going to be a non-starter. And so, we know we have the right people. We know that it’s benefiting the attorneys and the plaintiffs because we’re seeing them exuding the core values, we hear them talking about our mission. And we know when we take a look at how they’re collaborating and the output of their work, we’re seeing the quality that’s there.

Susan Barfield (22:30):

Mary Mick (22:30):
And all of this extends out to our plaintiffs.

Susan Barfield (22:33):
Yeah. Awesome. Mary, I’m so glad that we had an opportunity to connect and talk all things.

Mary Mick (22:40):
You, too. This was great.

Susan Barfield (22:41):
Yeah, Case Works and our culture. I know you and I love this, and so we could keep going on, but I’m glad we had the time to connect on it.

Mary Mick (22:50):
We’re good.

Susan Barfield (22:50):
So thanks for joining me, and we certainly appreciate all that you do here at Case Works.

Mary Mick (22:55):
Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

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