Creating cash flow and making money in your law firm is not always about signing more cases.
One of the smartest ways you can create cash flow in your firm (and improve your firm’s client satisfaction and your staff and lawyer’s productivity at the same time) is through case benchmarks.
Here’s the secret Big Picture: The faster you can move your standard PI cases through the timeline from the point of MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) through final proceeds Disbursement, the better. When all your cases are moving appropriately through an established timeline you will see three important benefits:
1) increased systematic cash flow – because cases are getting settled or tried, and not collecting dust on someone’s desk,
2) happier clients– because they know you are working on their case and getting results, and a
3) more efficient and productive staff– because they don’t have to spend as much time in ongoing communication with complaining clients whose cases have not been resolved.
It’s a win-win.
And you can accomplish this without compromising zealous advocacy for your clients.
In fact, implementing a clear benchmark system with KPI’s for all your PI cases will likely improve the quality of your firm’s representation.
Creating a master timeline with benchmarks for all your Personal Injury cases is the key that will allow you to better manage your firm’s overall caseload. You will be able to identify bottlenecks (where cases are stuck and not moving) and hold your staff and lawyers accountable to get those specific cases moving and resolved.
Remember: Ultimately, a case is worth what a case is worth. It isn’t like fine wine – its value does not go up the longer it sits in your office.
But without clear KPIs for your personal injury cases, you’ve got no straightforward way to manage things. Your lawyers and staff don’t have a clear picture of your expectations and you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Without management, you’ve got little to no accountability. Cases are gummed up. Clients are unhappy. And your cash flow is sporadic rather than steady and systematic.
Once you implement a Personal Injury KPI system, with identified Benchmarks for each stage of representation you will likely see that many of your case managers and attorneys start managing themselves. They will respect what they know you inspect. You will be able to run your law firm instead of it running you.
THE KEY CASE BENCHMARKS EVERY PERSONAL INJURY FIRM NEEDS TO TRACK
- Files are set up within 48 hours after the client signs the representation contract.
- Notification letters are sent to providers and the insurance company within 7 days after each case is opened.
- Ongoing Client Contact while waiting for the client to reach MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement): Clients are contacted every 2 weeks for the first 3 months and once a month thereafter, until the client reaches MMI. (So, your firm knows exactly when each client has reached MMI)
- MMI – All medical records are requested and received within 35 days.
- The Demand Letter goes out within 7-10 days after all the records are received.
- The Case is settled within 60 days from the date of the Demand Letter. If the Insurance Company is not willing to settle the case by this date, then they are sent a letter with a Complaint that you plan to file within 30 days, if the case is not settled.
- If the Case is not settled within 90 Days from the date of the Demand Letter, a Complaint is FILED.
- For all Settled Cases, Proceeds are Disbursed, and all subrogation/liens, etc. are resolved within 14-21 days after Settlement is reached.
In my experience, there are several typical Bottleneck points in the life of a case. These are the points in which the case is being held up and needs attention in order to move it forward.
THE TYPICAL BOTTLENECKS IN THE PI CASE TIMELINE
- Getting the Medical Records in once the client reaches MMI
- Getting the Demand Letter Sent Out
- Holding on to the File too long, waiting to Settle the Case or File Suit
- Failing to Resolve Liens/Subrogation/Medicare, etc. so Funds Can be Disbursed.
While cases can languish at any stage from sign-up to trial or settlement, the above-identified points are usually the greatest sticking points for most law firms. Fortunately, by recognizing these points of vulnerability, and running the necessary KPI reports, you will be able to take action, to hold your lawyers and staff accountable and keep all your firm’s cases moving forward.
How to Implement a Personal Injury Benchmark System of KPIs:
- The Set-up: Start by Determining the Clear Due Dates you want to set for each phase of your typical PI Case, from the initial Sign-up through Disbursement.
- Enter these Due dates into your Case Management System, so that the dates are automated and triggered once Sign-up occurs. Your case managers and attorneys should be automatically alerted of the upcoming deadlines in their checklists.
- Management Reports: You or your COO/Office Manager should be running weekly reports on all cases that have hit the stage of the case that you consider to be potential bottlenecks. Run monthly reports for all the other phases of your cases.
- Case managers and attorneys should be running their own reports to make sure they are meeting all their deadlines.
- When you identify cases that are falling outside of the Benchmarks and aren’t moving through the pipeline properly, you need to take action. Meet with the case manager or attorney assigned to the case so you can determine if there is a legitimate reason for why a particular case isn’t moving forward. Then, set subsequent due dates and accountability sessions as needed to move these problematic cases through your firm’s pipeline.
While taking the time to set up PI Benchmarks within your Case Management System and then holding everyone to these KPIs may seem a daunting task, do not be deterred. This is one of the very best actions you can take to build a successful and scalable law firm. Once these KPIs are in place you will be able to reap a significant ROI. You will be able to immediately identify problematic cases and take action to propel them forward. Your lawyers and staff will have clarity as to your expectations, and your clients will be happier knowing that their case has not been forgotten. You cannot manage what you cannot measure so commit yourself to setting these PI Benchmarks today and start building a law firm you can run rather than having it run you!
***This is just a sample of the Strategies PILMMA shares with its members. If you haven’t yet joined the PILMMA family, click here to learn more about PILMMA Gold Membership and the PILMMA Mastermind Program.