Client Relationship Management (CRM) is just one of those terms that has all sorts of stigma attached to it. Legal professionals—whether the actual rainmakers for the organization, solo wizards of their own domain, or partners in charge of the business bloodline—have struggled for years with the this one topic: How do I (we) keep potential work from slipping through our fingers, as well as measure the success of our methods to attract business, even if it is word of mouth?
This is uniquely important for those in either high volume practices like personal injury, or ones that have a long client development cycle such as business formation (transactional) firms.
The concept, while not unfamiliar to those who use software to manage the running of a case once it is “on-boarded” (Case Management), boils down to finding a way to log the information about the potential client (Contact Card), create a list of things to do to keep that contact involved with the firm (Tasks). And for those of you who dream big, it would also be nice if along the way you could collect all the information needed to actually proceed with the case (Notes/Intake Forms).
Alas, most firms who have actually tried one of the many available packages have stubbed their collective toes on one or more of the following:
- CRM packages are often converted product sales software that focus on the Purchase Order concept rather than the Services Agreement concept and are therefore not really suitable.
- CRM packages are based on a single client:single product model, whereas the legal industry really needs a one client:many cases model.
- CRM packages are either too simplistic Outlook add-ons, or so complex that using them requires dedicated trained staff and a consultant for customization.
- CRM packages don’t share their information easily with Case Management and therefore require massive amounts of redundant information gathering—annoying to the client and costly to the firm.
Law practices need “Just the facts,” but lots of them. If we were to think outside the box, couldn’t we just boil it down to one phrase? Legal professionals don’t want just CRM. They want a case intake system!
When I sat down for my first run-through of Lexicata, I assumed I would see yet another big name sales spin-off product. Not so, at all. Instead, it is the brainchild of lawyers who have obviously experienced my own data nightmares. This cloud-based system does indeed mimic many features of case management, making it client/matter-centric. This means that it not only does it do contact information collection, follow-up ticklers, and tracking of statistics—it also gathers all the pertinent case information as defined by you!
In short, it is not just CRM. It is a complete case intake system.
Slicing Up Lexicata
Lexicata has started from the ground up and introduced the missing links between potential case information and real case information. The laundry list includes:
- Contact cards with various statuses such as “Lead.”
- Notes capabilities.
- Source tracking (Referral, Website, Advertisement, Avvo).
- Tasks and Reminders systems—all interactive with Microsoft Outlook.
- Steroid boosts to tasks: Tasks/To-dos are not only attorney based but client based as well, meaning that any activity logged online by the potential client not only advances a matter’s timeline but can also trigger next step follow-up emails to all parties concerned, and even automatically cancel reminders due to the completion of a form.
- Lexicata builds online forms. Back up. Did he just say “logged online by the potential client?” I thought I could hear your heart beating! The form building tool uses simple drag-and-drop technology to build forms quickly. And yes, the forms you build can be sent as secure web pages. It also generates .PDF files on-the-fly for in-house filling, printing (if you must), and review.
- The form builder includes multiple question types that can be keyed to previous questions, generating more specific follow-ups. For example, if a client checks a box for “I will be seeking investors,” the form can auto-add additional information requests such as the “types” of investors. Or it will drop the whole line of questioning—on a similar model to popular document assembly packages.
- Speaking of which, there is an export feature for filled forms to .csv files for use in document assembly programs outside of Case Management.
- Matter Creation (potential) linked to contacts, complete with your desired onboarding details.
- Actual engagement letters. The intake forms can also morph into the actual engagement letters using the collected data, with:
- Native E-Signature requests, making on-boarding relatively instantaneous and no client-side printing problems (using Hellosign®).
- Checklists that can combine packages of all of the above.
- Dashboards for statistical/accounting related numbers such as signing success rates (conversion) and business value (on-boarded or not).
Half Cheese, Half Pepperoni, One Pie
Here’s where this cynic was converted—enough so for me to abandon my low-carb diet forever:
All that time spent, all the data collected, all the signed forms, all the contact information linked, all the questions captured and answered by the client can be matched directly to the equivalent holes-to-be-filled in your case management system. That’s right. If you own one of Lexicata’s integration partner vendor products, such as Clio, you can press a button and transfer all of the data, documents, contacts, etc. right on over and open the case. And instantly mark all of the Lexicata side information as “real.”
Is it worth the price?
How many unbillable hours are you chasing down case information and re-entering it from notes into case management? Would you/could you hand off some of the work to less costly staff? Or for that matter would you just manage the whole process yourself if it was fully automated?
At $499/year for the first license and around $30/month for each additional, Lexicata thinks you just might.
And if you’ve implemented it correctly, the client has done all your data entry for you. In my book, that’s called having your pie-chart and eating it, too.