To Outsource or Not to Outsource … That’s The Question

DOES OUTSOURCING MEDICAL REVIEW AND CASE DEVELOPMENT MAKE SENSE FOR MY LAW FIRM?

In recent years, the once complex and mysterious world of mass tort litigation has become increasingly more accessible, even to smaller firms.  Many firms are attracted to mass tort because it provides a unique opportunity to scale their practice in a way that single event litigation does not. Scaling a mass tort practice requires building a system that can efficiently and effectively handle a large and growing number of cases. Managing cases and reviewing medical records for hundreds or even thousands of plaintiffs requires extensive resources and a team of people including doctors and nurses, who are specially trained in medical record review. 

Attorneys have more choices than ever before when it comes to building and managing their mass tort practice. The field is chock-full of quality service providers for just about every part of the process including advertising to acquire new cases, client intake, case management, ongoing client communications, medical document review, and so on. The question many attorneys struggle with when entering the field or expanding their mass tort practice is:

“should we partner with a third-party provider, or build it ourselves?”

The management team at Case Works has consulted with firms of all sizes to help leadership decide what parts of the process to outsource and what to keep in house. Today’s article focuses on the pros and cons of outsourcing case management and medical review.

OUTSOURCE TO REDUCE OVERHEAD AND FIXED EXPENSES

Hiring, training and managing staff ties up a firm’s biggest resources – money and time. More importantly, training staff to review medical documents and creating the necessary protocols is outside the normal course of business for most law firms. By outsourcing, a law firm can avoid the fixed costs and administrative burden of hiring, training and managing additional staff.

ONLY PAY FOR WHAT YOU NEED

Building an in-house team is a long-term commitment to a law firm. The influx of newly retained cases can vary widely from month to month. Outsourcing case management and medical review give your firm the flexibility to take on lots of cases or just a few without having to balance headcount accordingly. Outsourcing allows you to shift staffing requirements to a third party so that you only pay for what you need at any given time.

STAY CURRENT ON LITIGATION AND SCIENCE

Successful case development requires a firm to stay abreast of changes in litigation and scientific development as the docket moves towards settlement.  To keep up with the constant changes, a firm will need one or more people to spend considerable time researching and staying up to date, especially if you have cases spanning multiple dockets.  Partnering with a third-party provider alleviates burdening your staff with this time-consuming task and focuses your resources on serving your clients.

SPECIALIZATION LEADS TO BIGGER RECOVERIES

If you practice something over and over, you naturally get better over time.  If your firm is processing a high volume of cases (think thousands, not hundreds) for a single mass tort docket, your medical review team will develop a high level of expertise as they are doing the same type of review over and over again.  A deeper understanding of the science, types of acceptable injuries, and impact to the client translates into better insights as you build the damage model.  In turn, building a more valuable damage model leads to larger recoveries, bigger legal fees and happier clients.  If your law firm is processing a lower volume of cases, your team will not get enough reps to develop the same level of expertise which can negatively impact the recovery your clients will receive.

CASE EXPENSES PAID BY PLAINTIFF

In most jurisdictions, fees paid to an outside third-party company to assist with case management and medical review can be passed along as a case expense.  Through the settlement process, case expenses are charged to the plaintiff rather than deducted from the attorney’s fee due to the law firm.  So, you get to keep more of what you have earned by outsourcing. 

If your firm is considering getting into the mass tort game or expanding an existing practice now is a good time to speak with an Operational Consultant from Case Works.  Large or small, our team will work with you to customize a plan that meets your specific business needs.