Parker Waichman LLP is a personal injury law firm with offices in New York, Long Island, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Florida. Founded in 1993, the firm has prided itself on finding ways to improve its practice, and its service to clients. As technology continues to make inroads into the practice of law, Parker Waichman has sought to take advantage. Frustrated by the lack of practice management systems at the time, especially for personal injury cases, Parker Waichman partner Jerrold Parker built SmartAdvocate. It’s user-friendly design and presentation of the most important information on the Case Summary screen, gives our lawyers a quick overview of cases. That, in turn, makes it easy to keep clients, as well as staff, up-to-date.
Lawyers at Parker Waichman often beta test new features of SmartAdvocate, putting them through the paces of a personal injury law firm, and working to improve features, as well as its practice. The firm uses many integrations already, such as eLaw for court calendaring, National Records Retrieval for medical records, chat integration with nGage, and an answering service called LIP. The firm has experienced increased productivity, and better communications from such features, but it is the latest integration that is proving most beneficial. That new integration is the result of a partnership with CallFire.
CallFire is a cloud-based text and voice platform designed to help businesses engage and communicate with their audiences. Since we’re notified of new developments with SmartAdvocate, we heard about CallFire and were intrigued. Jerry built SmartAdvocate because none of the other systems on the market were comprehensive enough at the time. He constantly works to improve it with new features and functionality, and that desire for improvement and active engagement bleeds into the firm. We’re always looking for ways to improve, so when the texting opportunity presented itself, it was a no-brainer.
From prior experience, we knew that texting has a much better response rate than email or voice mail. We started using CallFire’s texting service about a month ago, which provides effective texting solutions for our lawyers. As CallFire integrates with SmartAdvocate, phone numbers are automatically pulled from the client’s contact card. We can send messages directly from SmartAdvocate, and all messages, incoming and outgoing, are automatically captured by SmartAdvocate. The messages show up in the case file, which provides great traceability and accountability.
The texting feature has been a wonderful asset thus far. Our clients are personal injury victims, so their cases are often of a very personal or delicate nature. Responding to personal emails while they are at work may not be convenient. CallFire allows us to send succinct messages directly to our clients without needing to open a new email, or use company issued gadgets on a corporate network to check personal email. The result has been that the text messages are reviewed and responded to more quickly than we have seen with emails. In addition, the efficacy of the platform reduces the number of phone calls made, saving us time and money.
Using CallFire, our offices have a method of client communication that is quick, direct, and so far has resulted in a successful interaction. By successful interaction, I mean it took minutes rather than hours. For example, in response to a text we sent regarding some specific documents, within minutes, the client texted back that they would look for it, and send it to us the next day.
It may seem counter-intuitive to send text messages to clients instead of emails for scheduling appointments, or asking for documents, but consider the stats from a July 2014 post at Business 2 Community. Text messaging has a 98% open rate, leading to faster communication to and from our clients. Factor in the common complaint of inbox overload, and texting makes more sense. We want to communicate with our clients and help them resolve their cases, not fight to be at the top of their inbox.
As lawyers, we’re conscious of privacy and confidentiality. We ask our clients during our first conversations with them if they want to receive text messages from us, and most of our clients have given us permission.
Texting gives us the ability to communicate more efficiently, allowing us to provide an update on case information, give an answer to a question, schedule a time for a meeting, or give personal notifications, such as a request to participate in a meeting and/or conference call. Being able to have immediate contact with the client is a huge benefit to us; we’re able to get answers in a timely fashion, which allows us to be more efficient. The partnership allows our firm to easily and effortlessly track all client communications, such as SMS, emails, correspondence, etc., in one place on our system.