How a general practice lawyer might work, and how LIVIA can help.
A general practice lawyer must manage a wide variety of potential clients and client needs. The client base is typically individuals and small businesses. The lawyer must provide information regarding applicable law and explanations of various legal and regulatory processes.
When lawyers are actually hired, an engagement letter / agreement is agreed and signed; as it sets the terms and conditions of the fee arrangement between the lawyer and client.
The amount of intake information to be taken from the client is often varied. And a number of sets of forms should be available / used during client intake. Forms / requirements / information for personal injury, divorce, and minor criminal cases would be included at the top of the typical general practice list.
Monies are typically made by the lawyer from flat fees for uncontested matters; minor court hearings and the like; or through hourly rates. Cost control during the entire engagement process is of utmost importance for flat fee cases, and detailed time keeping, including interim billing, is vital when fees are charged at an hourly rate. Moreover, in hourly fee cases the lawyer or firm often requests a retainer that is then reduced as hourly fees are incurred, and then “topped up” to pre-agreed levels when necessary to protect the lawyer or firm from too significant an outlay.
Types of Cases / Processes:
The kinds of cases involved range from real estate closings, to divorces, to personal injury cases, to traffic tickets, to establishing small corporations with the related business filing obligations, to writing contracts. Often small personal bankruptcies and consumer complaint cases are part of the practice. Forms fill-ins, and standardized documents are typically provided by lawyers or firms to clients.
If court filings and proceedings take place, it is typically for traffic or similar misdemeanor offenses, for personal injury, for divorce, or contract disputes (personal services, real estate or similar matters).
Before any trial takes place, there are often court ordered conferences and /or mediation.
Once trial is set, however, as part of the discovery process witnesses and documents must be managed, depositions taken, and motions, briefs and other pleadings filed and heard.
Typically, only a very small percentage of cases are actually tried.
Client Issues With Lawyers:
Frequently, complaints against general practice lawyers relate to:
Lack of / failures in communication,
Inadequate preparation for court ordered conferences or proceedings,
Poor description / documentation of hourly billing,
Lack of understanding by the client of the legal process and steps / risks involved for the particular matter.
Many of these complaints are expectation and communication based.
If a lawyer uses the LIVIA client portal effectively, which calendars items as to timing and status, and provides records / copies / updates of correspondence and activities (calls, emails and documents); and manages the matter(s) in a timely and effective matter, much of the basis for any complaint is reduced or eliminated altogether – and a greater degree of client satisfaction can occur.
Often the communication problem is on the client side, and the lawyer has little or no documentation; and therefore cannot support a position vis-à-vis what a client said or did.
In this process, there are a number of elements of the LIVIA Portal and ancillary services that are useful in ensuring that there is highly professional management of the matter / case and process.
These elements focus on information intake, management, control and usage of information throughout the course of the lawyer / client engagement, as well as on LIVIAN support of these requirements.
How LIVIA Benefits General Practice Lawyers:
LIVIA Portal Usage
Legal Practice Process
|1||Opportunities||Use of LIVIA Opportunities to process and maintain new account / client opportunities.
All new opportunities and related information is placed in the portal and tracked. If actions need to be taken regarding moving the opportunity forward, and dates set for meetings or proposals, they can be logged, monitored and coordinated.
|2||Forms||Use of LIVIA Forms to provide client / firm based data and relevant information regarding accounts / clients.
When an opportunity moves to account / client status, the (a) client intake form, and (b) client engagement letter is prepared. As well as various lists of information the client must provide, such as tax returns, financial statements, age / status of children, and other information necessary to the case.
In states where there are “form” filings, the list of information necessary for the client to provide can be standardized, monitored and if desirable completed by LIVIANs in conjunction with the client.
|3||Client Portal||Use of LIVIA Client Portals to document contacts with the client, and manage client expectations.
All necessary forms and documents / agreements are effectively “placed” in the client portal.
Client forms can be filled out in a secure environment, calendars of events can be provided, and the client has access to all key / relevant information in the case at any time desired. The client can communicate with the lawyer / firm through the portal securely and a record is kept of all communications.
|4||Matter Management||Use of LIVIA Matter Management to manage all correspondence, pleadings, documents, emails and other relevant information relating to the account / client matter.
All of this material is provided In one place under each matter; and accessible anytime, anywhere, and can be updated, monitored and serviced by LIVIANs.
LIVIANs can be utilized in conjunction with the functionality of the LIVIA portal to maintain versions of various pleadings / documents. And / or specific case related workspace portals can be established to ensure that information transfer and ongoing processes are transparent and efficient with opposing counsel.
If documents need to be summarized, chronologies prepared, or witnesses notified of hearings; LIVIANs can be utilized in support. If information must be obtained from various sources, LIVIANs can send emails, correspondence and place calls to ensure that it is obtained in a timely manner.
|5||Time & Expense Management||Use of LIVIA Time & Expense Management to manage the amount of time spend on particular account / client matters and to document all expenses.
Regarding time and expenses, this can be done “real time” with updates to client portals, so as not to cause undue surprise at the time of resolution. Often retainers are taken, and clients want the status of what is remaining, and lawyers / firms need to know when the retainer needs to be “topped up.”
|6||Calendar Management||Use of LIVIA Calendar Management to keep different calendar views of account / client matters and necessary activities and proceedings.
Each participant in the matter can have an independent calendar view of what must be done and when, and have notification of any meetings, hearing, conferences or other necessary activities.
|7||Campaigns||Use of LIVIA Campaigns to follow-up with successful client stories, and to obtain references. LIVIA can follow up with clients, and within legal bounds utilize the data for new client reference campaigns.
If witnesses must be notified of proceedings, and attendance confirmations must be received, the campaign tool can be used to independently track notices and follow-up on responses and issues in timing / attendance.
|8||Web Sites||Use of LIVIA Web Site services to ensure that the lawyer / firm have an up to date and appealing web presence. LIVIA can ensure that the lawyer / firm maintains professional and consistent web identity / communications.|
|9||LIVIA Dashboards||Use LIVIA Dashboards to maintain and understand key metrics relating to the administration and profitability of the practice.
Once on the LIVIA platform, and with proper input of data; the lawyer / firm can keep track of new client opportunities, the value of these opportunities, outstanding account / client matters, the value of account / client matters and potential settlement timing / revenue, time and costs to ensure profitability by account / client and a number of other key practice intelligence parameters.
|10||Use of LIVIANs||Use of LIVIANs to assist with account / client intake information, client portals and portal information, calendar management, matter / document management, time / expense recording, document digests, accessing / obtaining information and other tasks.
LIVIANs are available on call around the clock to assist with the necessary tasks required to manage clients and their matters professionally and effectively.