So you think your firm is tech-forward, but do you have a strategy behind that? Today Zack Glaser talks with Lawyerist Lab member, author, and fellow legal tech guru, Greg Siskind. They dive into the ways AI is transforming the legal industry and how law firms can leverage technology to stay ahead of the curve.
If today's podcast resonates with you and you haven't read The Small Firm Roadmap Revisited yet, get the first chapter right now for free! Looking for help beyond the book? Check out our coaching community to see if it's right for you.
- . Tech forward approach
- . Building the software
- . Fast Case
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts
Stephanie Everett (00:35):
Hi, I’m Stephanie Everett.
Zack Glaser (00:36):
And I’m Zack Glaser. And this is episode 434 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today I interview Labster Greg Siskin about building apps and using technology in his law firm.
Stephanie Everett (00:48):
Today’s show is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists, Clio, & Gavel, we wouldn’t be able to do our show without their support, so stay tuned cause we’re going to tell you more about them later on.
Zack Glaser (00:59):
So Stephanie, we just got back from Tech show and as I imagine people could have predicted AI chat, GPT, chatbots, all that stuff was all over the place at Tech Show.
Stephanie Everett (01:13):
Yeah. And okay, I’m going to confess to everyone probably three weeks ago I was like, why is everyone just talking about this? I don’t understand it. I don’t know really. Is this the big thing that’s going to change our life? Or is this Y2K or something? Right.
Zack Glaser (01:30):
<laugh>, right. Yeah.
Stephanie Everett (01:31):
And then here’s the confession part. I actually did a webinar that was a two hour webinar where they took us through real live examples and showed us how these tools can actually work in real life. And now I’m hooked and I’ve been using it every day and I’ve told the whole team they have to use it and I’m creating a lab workshop to teach Lawyerist how to use it. And I’m like, everyone should be using this. And I’ve become so I went from weird, skeptical, I don’t understand this to raving fan in about two weeks period of time.
Zack Glaser (02:05):
I think that’s kind of indicative of the technology. You know, look at some of these other technologies that have come out like NFTs and some blockchain. And when we go and look into it, when somebody who is skeptical goes and looks into it, they continue to say, okay, but what’s the use case? But what’s the use case? But you went to one online presentation and you’ve got tons and tons and tons of use cases out of that. I have been using it. I haven’t written anything without using artificial intelligence since the chat G P T was released publicly.
Stephanie Everett (02:40):
So maybe we should break it down for people, because if you’re like me the two weeks ago, me and wondering, okay, what the heck are they talking about? I think it’s important. Mm-hmm. That we break it down and say there’s kind of two main type, is that the right word to say two categories or types of AI in these different tools that are out there?
Zack Glaser (02:59):
I think categories is probably better. Cause when we get into types of ai, we start to get pretty technical in definition of the ai. But what we’re talking about are kind of two approaches of use cases in a sense.
Stephanie Everett (03:14):
And so what’s the first one?
Zack Glaser (03:15):
So we have generative ai, which is something that creates something. It’s a program that creates something. So you give it a prompt and say, give me a picture in the style of Monet of the White House, and then it generates out of nothing or seemingly thin air. This picture that is in the style of Monet that is of the White House. And so it creates something, so it’s generative
Stephanie Everett (03:44):
And it can do it with pictures, images, it can do it with texts. I’ve been asking it to create interview questions for me for this podcast in the style of Howard Stern because I think he is a cool interviewer even though I don’t like all the stupid stuff he does, not a fan. But I think he gives a good interview. And it’s been really interesting to see what does it think Howard Stern should ask the next podcast guest? And I don’t always stick with them, it’s just a first draft.
Zack Glaser (04:09):
And I think that’s one of the things to keep in mind here is that it is a rare case where you give a prompt to something that is artificial intelligence and then it gives you exactly what you were looking for or even gets it right for that matter. Because there’s no concept of correctness inside the mind of the AI bot or application.
The other way that we can go is extractive ai, something that summarizes something fast Case is using this right now where they’re taking a case and essentially briefing it in a small little box in the corner and saying, here’s what you should get out of this case. So it’s taking this four corners kind of world of information and summarizing it for people and presenting that in a way that is easy to understand. We also have taking things from legalese to regular layman speak as well, that would be something that was extractive or summarizing sort of ai.
Stephanie Everett (05:12):
So I could see a lot of use cases for that. In a law firm, you may have a huge deposition transcript and you may feed it into the tool and say, summarize this for me or find me where this witness talks about this concept or something. I mean, these are the kind of tools that we’re going to have available to us now.
Zack Glaser (05:29):
And I think it’s important to keep that in mind that we can be pretty creative here. The idea is getting the basics in our heads, getting our minds wrapped around what the basics of what these tools can do and then being creative about them. I’ve seen some scenarios where English professors will have chat G P T or something like that, write an essay, and then they’ll give students the essay that was written by chat G P T to then edit. Well, that’s an interesting way to interact with the AI and to kind of bring it into your classroom, whether that’s something that needs to be done by everybody or not, but being creative about what the capabilities are or being thoughtful about what the capabilities are and then creative about what we could do with it, I think is pretty important here.
Stephanie Everett (06:17):
Yeah. I’ll give everybody one last tip. So now some early prompts you can use to get started on it. A lot of Lawyerist struggle, they think they should be writing blog posts or some kind of content to put out into the world, and they’re just struggling either with what to write about, what to write. This is your new best friend. So first you can go to it and say, generate 10 ideas for a blog post for a family law firm to write regarding someone who’s considering a divorce. Obviously I just kind of came up with that on the play, but it’s going to then generate a list of 10 ideas for you, or questions that somebody who’s considering a divorce may have. Well now you got some topics now you could take one of those topics and say, yeah, this topic kind of sounds good, or it’s close.
And then you could ask it now, create a 200 word blog post, blah, blah, blah, and you give it these prompts and it will then spit out this first draft for you again, is it going to be perfect? No, we already have some instances where it has made up walls and made up quotes. I feel like compelled to say that. Do your fact checking people. Just because this thing spit out something doesn’t mean it’s perfect, it’s learning, but it’s going to give you a first draft. And we have a rule in lab, we call it the no first draft rule for a lot of the Lawyerist we work with because they’re at a point now where they really shouldn’t be writing first drafts. They need a team. They should be in editing mode, not starting from blank pieces of paper. And as a small law firm where you may not have the money to have a lot of staff and maybe you don’t have a marketing team and someone that can just generate all these things for you, here’s a new tool that’s currently free that you could use to generate some first drafts. And of course you’re going to light eyes on it and edit it, but it’s going to get you a lot further along than staring at a blank page for hours.
Zack Glaser (08:05):
It absolutely will. It absolutely will. Now here is my conversation with Greg.
Greg Siskind (08:13):
Hi, I am Greg Siskind. I am an immigration lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve been doing this work for 33 years, and I also am a founder of a legal tech spinoff company from our law firm called Visalaw.ai, and our law firm is Siskin Susser.
Zack Glaser (08:32):
Greg, thanks for being with me. It’s funny that we’re doing this via the internet because we actually are both in the same city. It’s rare that I actually get to talk with somebody too much that is in Memphis with me, a fellow Memphian, we’re
Greg Siskind (08:44):
It? We are legal tech, Memphis,
Zack Glaser (08:47):
This That’s exactly right. We just did this at the end of our regular meeting. So yeah, I appreciate you talking to me about this and thinking about that, about legal technology in the law. Obviously you’ve been on the forefront. You’ve been the legal tech Memphis along with some others. I don’t want to just say that it’s just you, but you’ve been doing this type of stuff for a while.
Greg Siskind (09:13):
Zack Glaser (09:18):
Well, you got a lot of time left in doing this, I think. But you’ve been doing this for, I mean, you said you’ve been practicing for 33 years. You’ve had a website since 1994, right?
Greg Siskind (09:28):
That is correct.
Zack Glaser (09:29):
I think you were saying to me earlier, before we got on the air here, that website is older than some of the Lawyers in your firm, which is pretty uncommon even now.
Greg Siskind (09:40):
Yeah, well actually the firm and the website were started together. I was at a big law firm in Nashville, actually is where the firm started. I married somebody from Memphis and we relocated here shortly afterwards, but I gave my notice and at this big firm and I spent the next two months basically working on a website, and then the website opened when the law firm opened.
Zack Glaser (10:05):
Okay. That’s kind of a nice little entry there saying yes, we’ve been tech since the beginning. Because when I think of your practice, I do think of being tech forward. Frankly. I went to one of the museums here the other day because your firm was noted in an AI exhibit that was there for your use of technology. That was really neat. I had never been to a museum where I had known somebody that was actually in the exhibit, but you have been doing this. It is synonymous in my mind with your firm. I think the question that I have a lot of times is how do you go about doing that? It’s easy to say, I want to be tech forward. It’s easy to tell people, go out and keep tech on your mind, read blogs and all that stuff. How do you approach that?
Greg Siskind (10:56):
Well, I mean, generally speaking, we’re looking at what are we hiring the tech to do on there? What problem are we solving when we’re talking about introducing technology? I mean, it’s a little different today where it’s sort of, the whole practice is basically centered around one tech or another, whether it’s using Microsoft Word and Outlook versus and being on a Zoom call and the rest of the stuff that happens. But in terms of, I guess there’s tech and then you may, for example, have do things manually with tech, like writing a Word document over and over and over again. So it’s not just tech. It’s figuring out how do you leverage technology to work faster, better, cheaper? Those are the three things. You’re in service in a service business. And my father who was, he had an advertising agency when I was growing up, and he was in a service business when I started the firm.
He gave me a lot of good marketing advice. And he always said, you can do three things in a service business. You can deliver high quality work, you can deliver it quickly, or you can deliver it inexpensively or expensively. He said, but if you want to be inexpensive, do high quality work and do it quickly, you’re going to go out of business if you try and do all three of those things. Mm-hmm. Pick two on there. But the challenge to that is, and I don’t think this was original advice for, is that with technology, you can actually do all three. You can lower your costs, you can have it do it at a higher quality, and you can do it more quickly than you could without technology. So what we’re looking for in a lot of cases are where are the pain points in our practice in terms of the substantive legal work that we’re doing, things that we are spending too much time and spending our wheels on.
And that brings up things like document automation and it brings up good systems and all that. Some of which I guess we’ll probably talk a little bit about when we talk about case management, but some of that there. And then there’s also practice management automation as well, not just on the substantive way we handle the cases, but in terms of just internal business issues that we have to deal with, where are the pain points there? And a lot of the stuff that we’re working on is usually after really trying to observe our practices and figure out where we have breakdowns and what is possible. And we’re always on the lookout for what new tech is out there that can help us do that. And fortunately in the last couple of years, there’s been a lot of really cool things that are allowing us to go DIY as opposed to necessarily having to go out and shop and buy a product.
So that’s kind of how our company ended up. Our visa lot AI ended up spinning off, which is that there was now these no-code and low-code software solutions where we could build out products essentially for our own use that would for others as well. But we were not a software development company, so that’s not the way we ended up approaching it. But the fact is that these products were easy enough to customize and solve what we wanted. And so lately that’s where we’ve been going, but we’ve tried to all along try and figure out where technology could speed things up and improve the process.
Zack Glaser (14:09):
I like that idea of approaching it from, what is it? We need something to do hiring technology, because we have a tendency a lot of times in my mind to think about tech as something new and technology in a law firm as something new. And it’s decidedly not at any time in practicing law. People have been using something that’s more advanced than others in using boiler plate things and creating processes that allowed people to go faster. And so this idea of just using the technology that exists and comes up to enhance the practice and try to get, I think get as close to being able to do those three things as possible, quality, inexpensive and quickly.
So in doing that, you’ve built out this Visa law.ai that’s not part of your practice. And I think this is something that’s fascinating to people a lot of times is that they like having a law firm, but they also can say, oh, I’d love to build the technology. I’d love to build the practice management software that I am using. What’s your experience with that? How did you come about, you dipped into it a little bit, but how did you come about saying, okay, well we are going to go from Siski and sister to Visa law.ai now?
Greg Siskind (15:33):
Yeah, I mean, think our company is a little bit different in terms of maybe than others because it really sort of builds from our firm’s long history with publishing and writing. Mm-hmm. So I have the part I didn’t mention at the beginning when we were talking about how I left the big law firm, I was able to leave a big law firm in 1994 because I was a co-author of a book on an environmental law topic of all things. It wasn’t on immigration law, and it’s on a topic that I left decades ago, but it made a lot of money, that book on a royalties, and that funded my departure. Basically, I lift off those royalties for the first year of the practice, but over the years I’ve spent a lot of energy on writing and I’m now I think eight books that I’ve written in my career.
Zack Glaser (16:27):
Greg Siskind (16:27):
So one of the businesses that we spun on, the technology company I mentioned, because obviously that’s probably most interesting for your listeners, but I also, we spun off a publishing house after I had done books with Lexus, and the first one was with the company that was acquired by Wes and I did a book for the aba and I did a book for Sherm. Anyway, so I also chaired the ABAs book publishing program. So I learned a lot about the business side being a publisher. So I kind of saw both sides of it and decided we could do that ourselves. So with that being said, one of the things that we’re trying to leverage was how can we leverage content that we’re creating in technology, because I think that that’s something that makes this stuff we’re working on potentially a lot more valuable to the people that we would potentially be selling it to.
So what really sort of changed things for us was when, maybe it was in 2015, 2016 when the first low code AI decision tree kind of products were coming out. So Neota Logic was one and that that’s one that we used for a while, and then we ended up switching to after Pattern. But basically those are products where you could marry good content with something that was highly useful. So we had, what I was initially doing was developing eligibility advisors in these tools, just little apps that helped you figure out if you would qualify for this immigration benefit or that immigration benefit. And then those are actually fairly easy in terms of structure to do those. And then we got a lot more advanced as we started to really get to know what we’re doing. Now we actually have people at the office who just do nothing but work in these apps and really know ’em really well and can do a lot of stuff that we can’t do alone, but the document generation capabilities and these products and some of the things that we’re doing. But they all come from content. So that’s the secret sauce for us is that even though we’re mostly aiming at other Lawyers as far as what we’re building, but also some of it’s consumer facing as well. So from our perspective in terms of why we’re building, the other part of it is it does actually help the law firm that the Lawyers in the law firm are actually app authors, but the apps themselves are designed to actually be profitable and have their own customer base outside of the firm.
Zack Glaser (18:56):
I think that the law firms being the app authors, and just to clarify some things, the app in the after pattern sort of universe is, it’s more than just document automation. It is a way of solving a problem, a way of doing something. How would you describe the app in order to bring people along here?
Greg Siskind (19:19):
Yeah, so I mean, I’ll give you one example of an app that we built that solved a really a major problem for immigration Lawyerist, and it’s one that’s becoming pretty popular. So there’s something on an H1B visa, and a lot of people have heard about that in the news, or they may be just familiar with it from their companies that they work for. It’s a visa for bachelor’s level workers that are being recruited by a company. And when you hire an H one B worker, you have to make a filing with the Department of Labor online and you have to post a notice either electronically or on a bulletin board. You have to create something called a public access file within 24 hours of filing the labor condition application online. And that has all kinds of wage information and benefits information, and there’s a lot of stuff that has to happen very quickly.
And that 24 hours and immigration Lawyerist need their clients to basically do a lot of the heavy lifting on that because they’re the ones that have that information and they have to, and they’re the ones that have to have the public access file in hand. So if the Department of Labor knocks on your door and the next day or any employee knocks on it, then you have to have it. So the problem lawyers had is that we don’t have enough time to get this thing done in 24 hours unless the client is really cooperating with us and getting everything. Okay. So a lot of lawyers will just send this to their client with an email saying, you need to put all these things in there and have this thing done within 24 hours. And that may happen and it may not happen. There’s a lot of non-compliance in that particular space.
So what we discovered was there was this area of immigration law where it was a big pain point. There was very much a lot of time pressure, a lot of things have to happen, and then you keep your fingers crossed that your clients are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. But we also have seen over years that a lot of those clients, and then when they got audited, they got slammed. So we were trying to see if there was a technology solution that would help us here, and we found it, which is we built an app that, first of all, it does the online posting and meets the legal requirements for that. It also takes, either the client can do it or the law firm can do it, but it asks a series of questions at five to 10 minutes, and then you upload a couple of things and it generates the public access file, it date stamps it.
There’s also notifications that have to go out to the workers that are affected. All these things happen in the context of the app and something that takes five to 10 minutes now. And we also get, because it’s date stamped, general counsel will get it, lawyer will get it, HR will get it. Everybody knows that it was done in a timely manner. It’s stored electronically. So if the government comes and asks for it, it’s all there. And that’s something that turned a most lawyers want to do it because it couldn’t be done inexpensively and clients didn’t want to pay for it. They wanted to. So clients would end up saying, we’ll do this because it’s too expensive, and then the clients wouldn’t do it. Now we’re actually able to turn something into a profit center for the law firms that are doing it for our law firm and other firms that are using the software where they can do it quickly and inexpensively.
And really something that is not a pain point anymore for these firms. It’s say the more they’re doing of these, the happier they are because it’s now someplace where they can charge enough to make money. So that’s an example of something that’s very specific to immigration law, but they’re these kinds of things in every area of law. And the nice thing was this product that we built is mostly, there’s not any novel technology we invented. Mm-hmm. We basically took a platform that was already out there and really customized it to do a particular job, and it did it pretty well. That’s the takeaway I think, is that there are a lot of these types of things that firms can do in automation that they can build to really make something that’s a pain in the neck is something potentially that is a winner financially for them instead of something that they consider to be drained on resources.
Zack Glaser (23:19):
Right, exactly. Because I think that that does those three things that you were talking about earlier in inexpensive, it’s quality and it’s quickly. So that’s an example of one of the sort of apps that the one can do. The client is inputting information, the information is going into a database of sorts, and then things are kind of created from their documents and other information in building this. What is the lawyer’s role in that? Because I guess the question is, should I learn to code? But that seems this is a no-code or low-code solution, but B, that doesn’t seem like the lawyer’s place in this, right? You’re talking about the lawyer designing the app,
Greg Siskind (24:03):
The lawyer designed it, but also there’s this is to comply with the regulatory requirements. So there’s a lot of law here, and you have to make sure that at the end of the day, the app is asking everything that’s required. All the documents that are in there are the ones that are being done. There’s something called an actual wage memorandum that has to, comes out of very specific regulation in the app, actually builds that document that has to comply with the law. I mean, at the end of the day, you have to produce something that when a Department of Labor auditor comes that it is going to be considered to be complying with the D O L requirements. So I mean, the lawyer’s the most critical part of this. I think you can always find somebody to design the tech around it, but without actually having somebody that really knows the law on there, you haven’t really solved the problem.
And that’s one of the things I think is great about legal tech is that you really have a lot of opportunities for a lawyer, even if a lawyer is not that much of a techie that they can envision how, I mean that to be more, I’d want somebody who’s, when we’re designing these things more as thinking from the consumer’s perspective, the consumer of technology, how would a user, if you were using this and what would you want the experience to be? What do you want it ultimately to be like at the end? And then can either we can build it ourselves or we’ll find somebody to help us with it, but that’s usually from, that’s I think a lot of people have a trouble envisioning sort of how the technology would actually get them the result that they wanted. They may say this is a pain in the neck.
It’d be nice if there was some tech to make it easier, but they’re not really to actually then go through the process of figuring out exactly how you want to design that to solve the problem is, I think something that doesn’t necessarily require somebody with coding as a background just really, I think requires But Lawyerist what we do, I mean, we kind of basically think in decision trees and if this and that. And so you may not know Python, but you are basically the laws in itself kind of a code computer code. So probably the original code
Zack Glaser (26:04):
<laugh>, right? It’s literally and case law as well. So real quick, we need to take a break to hear from our sponsors, but when we come back, we’ll be talking with Greg Siskin about his venture with Fast Case and how he’s been using some of the stuff that he’s created to get out there and help attorneys with their immigration practice broadly.
The Lawyerist Podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists. As an attorney. Do you ever wish you could be in two places at once? You could take a call while you’re in court, capture a lead during a meeting or schedule an appointment with a client while you’re elbow deep in an important case. Well, that’s where Posh comes in. They’re a team of professional, US-Based, live virtual receptionists available 24/7/365. They answer and transfer your calls, so you never miss an opportunity and you can devote more time to building your law firm. And with the Posh app you’re in total control of when your receptionist steps in. You can save as much as 40% off your current service provider’s rates. Even better, Posh is extending a special offer to Lawyerist listeners, visit posh.com/lawyerist to learn more and start your free trial of Posh Live Virtual Receptionist services.?
And by Clio. What do solo and small firm lawyers with great client relationships all have in common? They use cloud-based legal practice management software to run their law firms. This is just one finding from Clio’s latest Legal Trends Report. There’s no getting around it… the fact is… when it comes to client expectations—standards are higher than ever for lawyers. Proof is in the numbers: 88% of lawyers using cloud-based software report good relationships with clients. For firms not in the cloud, barely half can say the same. That gap is significant. For more information on how cloud software creates better client relationships, download Clio’s Legal Trends Report for free at clio.com/trends. That’s Clio spelled C-L-I-O dot com / trends.
And by Gavel. In the next 10 years, 90% of legal services will be delivered online by lawyers. Gavel (previously called Documate) is the software platform for lawyers to build client-facing legal products. With Gavel, collect client intake, feed that data into robust document automation flows, and collect payments to scale your practice. Companies like Landlord Legal, JusTech and Hello Divorce are built on Gavel—for both internal and client-facing automation. Sign up for a free trial now at gavel.io/partnership/lawyerist and get $100 off your subscription. Or book a time at gavel.io/partnership/lawyerist to get a free consultation on incorporating automation into your practice.
And we’re back with Greg Siskin. Greg, before the break we were talking about just the general idea of building apps and using technology in your practice to enhance frankly what we’re able to do recently, you and your team, the people at visalaw.ai, have kind of partnered with Fast Case and I don’t want to use a word inappropriately, but have gotten together with Fast Case in order to develop a case management system specifically for immigration. Can you kind of walk us through that a little bit, where that came from and how you wind up going from building H one B apps to kind of a fully functional, hopefully case management system?
Greg Siskind (29:46):
So this kind of goes back to what we were talking about before as far as starting with the content and then working its way into the technology. A project that my law partner and I started a few years back is we write a systems book for the American Immigration Lawyerist Association that basically pulls a lot of the systems that our firm has been using over the years. But that systems book, which goes by the nickname, the cookbook that book has is two volumes and it’s about 3,500 pages. So Small’s fairly substantial, but we have about 25, I think there’s like 25 chapter. I don’t know, it seems like it’s always in the process of consuming us as far as updating it. But each chapter is basically sort of like a overview of the law then followed by everything that you need to handle that particular kind of case, whether it’s checklists or question or client intake forms or templates and sample UX, government forms and flow charts.
And it’s designed both for new lawyers as well as experienced lawyers that just want to have good systems in place and never really, it had it all documented. When we wrote that book, we knew that the end game for us was, it was a technology play that we were writing this book that would be essentially the script for a case management system, but also hundreds and of apps eligibility advisors and kinds of things like that that we can build basically document generation tools. So we had different products in mind, but one of them was case management because in case management and essentially you’re tracking process steps and you are keeping track of data and you are having clients that are uploading documents into your system. I mean, oh, there’s a million things that case management systems do, but essentially it’s all the stuff that we had in this book could be incorporated into a case management system that would be highly customized to match the content to the book.
So we wrote this book, we knew that with publishing it through the American Immigration Lawyerist Association, that it would be really seen by a lot of people and it’s been a, the big seller and most immigration Lawyerist in the country are well aware of the book and probably have a pretty sizable chunk of them have the book. So we thought if we built a case management system, and originally we were thinking about doing it on our own, building a case management system, but if we built a case management system around the book, then it would give people that own the book a reason why they would want the case management system to match the systems in the book. And maybe it would also help book sales as well. If you were using the case management system, wouldn’t it be great to have this two volume book on your desk that’s essentially all the systems that are in that case management system that are all there for you as well as the law itself on each one of these topics.
So we were thinking about that and then we connected with the fast case folks who have a great product that they already have in case management for bankruptcy called Next Chapter. And we said, well, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel as far as creating the tech behind a case management system. Our biggest priority is one is to make sure the case management system actually works for an immigration the way immigration Lawyerist would want, but also would have all these systems that we wanted that would basically match our systems that we have with, we’ve also documented in the book. So it seemed like a really natural fit for us to partner with the company that already had a pretty proven track record in case management, especially a federal case management federal practice area like bankruptcy, which has a lot of priorities to immigration law. And then we could have a role in basically developing a system that we really wanted for our law firm, but also something that I thought the market really could use, which is a case management system that’s really built around strong content. Most case management systems are basically their databases, but they’re not really sort of teaching you how to be a lawyer. But we wanted this case management system was to also help teach people how to do immigration law, not just be a place to store their client’s data.
Zack Glaser (33:59):
And I didn’t expect to go this direction in talking with you, but this idea of a case management system essentially being tracking process steps is fascinating. I don’t think we say that in so many words enough at Lawyerist, I’m constantly telling people, write your processes down, write your processes down, go to your system to go to your systems. And we’re also constantly looking at case management software and saying, well, which one’s going to work for your systems? Which one’s going to work for the way that you do your processes? Take your processes and figure out what the functionality is. But the actual systems, the actual case management software a lot of times is built, like you said, as a database to track client information, to track some case information to create project management mechanisms in there. And so it’s a way of building these things instead of actually saying, okay, this case management software is your processes.
So that in and of itself is interesting that that’s what it is. This vision, this idea of having this case management software, this law practice management software with your actual book, the processes and systems book sitting next to you, that in my mind is the ideal of how one should be doing this anyway. And it doesn’t have to be a physical book, it can be something on a Wiki or something on OneNote or something like that. But having this physical software and this idea of your process is putting that together and that being how you operate your firm,
Greg Siskind (35:36):
That’s the hope. Yeah, I mean, everybody knows that you need a good system in place. I mean, I think the problem on it is it’s trying to just deal with our climate matters every day. I mean, we’re just consumed with just trying to meet our deadlines and trying to just keep things moving along. And a lot of times, I mean, it would be nice to be able to put the time in to really build out a lot of this stuff. So I think why a lot of people are interested in the book was a shortcut for them. And at the end of the day, our hope is not just the fast case, but actually we’re in discussions with multiple case management companies about incorporating that content in and customizing their products so that they work with that book. We hope people really like Fast Cases the software, because we’re helping them to try and design something. I think that’s going to be really nice. But if somebody wants to use a different software for their case management, but still have access to that content, and that’s the other part of this, hopefully rolling it out to other vendors as well. And Fast Case will be the one that I think we’re involved with the actual design of the product. But just in terms of the content play, there may be others.
Zack Glaser (36:52):
Well, that’s kind of the idea there is that your systems and processes theoretically should be tech agnostic for the most part. It shouldn’t really care what tech use provided. The tech has the ability to deal with all the functions and features and everything, but it shouldn’t matter what technology you’re using. But I also like this systems and processes. The thing you said back a little bit ago of there are hundreds of apps that you can spin out of these systems. And I think people forget that when you write these things down, when you put them down into processes, you can then look at them, you can look at ’em in a 30,000 foot view, you can look at ’em very closely. And ideas, in my experience, come out of that and bottlenecks. You start to see bottlenecks, you start to see things like that and be able to spin out some of the apps that you’re talking about as well.
Greg Siskind (37:41):
That is the Hope <laugh> here as far as the hundreds of apps. But even something like, and then all these advisors and things that we can have, but just something as simple as an engagement letter, which mm-hmm. Believe it or not for us was one of the toughest things that we had to develop was an app to automate our engagement letters at our firm. But that’s something that’s sort of just the most basic of basic things that firms, if you’re looking for a little automation tool, that would probably be one example of that. So I would say if people are looking like, what can I get out of listening to this podcast today that might be useful, that’s one that document, basic document automation is something that, there’s a lot of products that are out there that do it. But I mean for us, that was one of the most useful things that we solved on the law firm side was coming up with that tool where we’ve now the goal, we didn’t want to have everybody using different versions of our, it’s the telephone game with the you know, give the engagement letter, the firm’s standard engagement letter to somebody, they make a little change on it and then mm-hmm it from them and junior lawyer.
And then you find out that you’re in a 12 lawyer firm that you find out that there are not 12 different versions of the engagement letter, but probably several hundred versions of the engagement letter that have just been modified over the years. But we were looking for things like we’re immigration, Lawyerist bill, everything on a flat fee basis, which I know is music to the years of practice management consultants, but having our fee fee schedule feed into the app so that you do a dropdown, you pick the kind of case you’re going to be doing and it will automatically feed in there what the fee is. And then it asks you a lot of detailed questions about how are you doing benchmarks? Are you doing hourly or you doing, and all those kinds of things. It asks for particular kind of case. It may give you options for different kinds of costs, but the idea is that we wanted to have something that would be fast for the Lawyerist that would preserve consistency across the firm.
Also something that would be convenient for clients. So at the end of this, it basically sets it up for the clients on the engagement letter and then we’ll dump into our case management system or our document management system at the end. That being said, that’s something that people figure, I don’t know what I would use, what I would automate. That’s like a one common thing that every firm law firm in the country could probably benefit us from having some automation on their engagement letter. And it’s probably one of the things that’s the biggest pain in the neck and slowing things down at a firm when they do that. So that’s one basic thing that we did that I feel like even if somebody, I’m like, I’m never taking an immigration case. I don’t care what he’s talking about on this, but the engagement letter, and we do that on our mass, well, I didn’t mention, but we are involved in mass litigation as well.
In cases we sue with three other law firms and sometimes hundreds of plaintiffs in a case. And we basically adapted that engagement letter to something that we built for each case that we’re doing where our plaintiffs go through a little interview and then it builds out an engagement letter for them, which they sign online, they want to be in the case. And then also it interviews them and builds out a sworn declaration as well, which we need for the case as well. And they sign that online as well. And for Lawyerist that are doing litigation, that’s probably something that would save a lot of time as well, is that we’re where are you constantly bumping up against headaches in your cases? And these declarations are an example of that. That’s what you need to look for. It’s like what are you doing over and over again that you could potentially let it turn over to a computer.
Zack Glaser (41:29):
I think that’s great advice and that’s probably good advice to end on. What are you doing over and over again that you can turn over to a computer and why is it engagement letters? That’s the first thing that you can get into. I think that’s great advice, Greg. Greg, I really appreciate you being with us. I know you’re a lot of places at a lot of times now you were just at the A tech show depending on when this airs, talking about AI and legal technology and talking about your fast case venture and things like that. So I certainly appreciate you being with me.
Greg Siskind (42:00):
Thank you. Enjoyed it.
Speaker 1 (42:03):
The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at
is the Legal Tech Advisor at Lawyerist, where he assists the Lawyerist community in understanding and selecting appropriate technologies for their practices. He also writes product reviews and develops legal technology content helpful to lawyers and law firms. Zack is focused on helping Modern Lawyers find and create solutions to help assist their clients more effectively.
Last updated March 9th, 2023