Today we welcome another lawyer to legal tech entrepreneur, Lauren Sturdivant, CEO of Case Status, a secure platform for lawyers to communicate with clients with real-time updates, with the added cool feature of allowing satisfied clients to refer their lawyer with the click of a button. Case Status enables lawyers to respond to clients quickly without the disruption of a phone call or meeting, thus giving clients assurance that their case is progressing smoothly. Case Status also offers a road map of the case that clients can follow and see where they are in the process of their case. The interface is clean and intuitive.
Q. Tell us a little about your company.
Case Status is a communication and referral platform designed to save attorneys time and provide firms with a very cost effective marketing tool. Specifically, Case Status is an app that provides clients with real-time updates regarding the status of their case. It allows clients to read what to expect as their case progresses and it lets attorneys and clients message each other quickly. Lastly, Case Status allows clients to refer their attorneys to others with a click of a button. Case Status is designed to save attorneys time so they can focus on their cases, while allowing clients to feel more connected with their attorneys and their cases than ever before.
If firms are interested in testing out Case Status, they can try it free. Attorneys can go to www.casestatus.com to request an account or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Also, check us out on twitter at https://twitter.com/Thecase_status.
Q. Prior to your current position at your company, how long did you practice law and where? What was your area of practice? Do you still currently practice?
Prior to my position with Case Status, I practiced law in South Carolina and Ohio. I have been practicing over seven years, and before joining the Case Status team I primarily focused on personal injury, real estate (foreclosure defense, closings, etc.), and general civil litigation. I no longer practice with a firm, but act as counsel in a limited role for Case Status.
Q. What gave you the idea for Case Status, as well as the idea for the client referral button which is pure genius!
Case Status was born out of a pain point I personally experienced. Like so many other attorneys and paralegals, I struggled to get work done because I was constantly fielding calls and updating clients. Further, I realized that in order to get work done, I would have to set parameters around availability. This was troubling to me because I wanted to give clients the best experience possible.
Additionally, I recognized that clients were going through a difficult time in their lives and wanted consistent updates. It was clear that when there was a lapse of time in communication, clients believed we were not working on their cases. I saw firsthand how this disconnect led to distrust, and sometimes even a breakdown in the relationship.
After experiencing this problem for years, it became my mission to fix it. My team and I set out to create a tool that sets expectations and keeps clients informed, yet saves attorneys time so they can focus on their work. Further, I was determined to create a better way of obtaining referrals. Legal marketing is expensive, and I wanted to promote and allow clients to do the marketing for attorneys. As we all know, referrals are the lifeblood of every law firm, and Case Status has the ability to capture and streamline those referrals.
Q. I want to ask you specifically about the steps from idea to implementation. First, once you had the idea, did you take any steps to validate it? Second, after you decided to go forward with Case Status how did you find developers and how long did it take to get the site up and running?
I recognized that attorney/client communication was broken very early on in my career. In every position and area of law I practiced, the disconnect between attorneys and their clients was clear. It was not until several years into practicing that I started thinking about how we could create a tool to solve the problem. I have connections in tech, and reached out to a few developers. The developers really loved the concept, and we discussed what a solution would look like. They really believed in the product, solution, and the vision, and we discussed an agreement that worked for everyone involved. From there, I thought about jumping into this business full-time, the work it would take and the sacrifices I would have to make. My family and I decided that in order to be successful, I would have to focus all my efforts towards Case Status. I did not take this decision lightly, but I believe in our mission and I know it was the right decision. Upon making this decision, I discussed Case Status with many attorneys in order to get feedback. Our team was determined to create a solution that fixed these very palpable pain points. The Case Status team and I worked extremely hard to build a tool that honed in and solved the problem. From there, we launched Case Status.
Q. How long has Case Status been in operation, and what has the response been so far?
Case Status officially launched the iOS and Android app in October 2017. We rolled out our first integration (with Clio) in January 2018. The response has been great, and we are growing quickly. Our goal is to help firms work smarter, reduce attorney and client stress, and maximize every firms’ ability to market. We want attorneys and paralegals to love our product, and for firms to see a major return from using Case Status.
Q. So let’s talk about your product. First, can you just describe how CaseStatus works – both from the lawyer and client side?
Case Status was designed to be very intuitive and easy-to-use for attorneys and clients. In terms of the firm’s side, attorneys and paralegals can log onto Case Status on any device. Case Status lists all of their clients and has an inbox that displays new messages. Attorneys/paralegals can click on a client, and change the status of their case or send a quick message without having to call or email the client. All communication is in one place and displayed on the client’s page.
Clients download the Case Status app through the App Store or Google Play. Any updates and messages from the attorney pop up as notifications in the client’s app, so the client always knows what is happening in his or her case in real-time. Clients can read what to expect as their case progresses, send quick messages, and refer their attorneys through the app.
Q. What are the benefits that Case Status provides and what distinguishes Case Status from other tools for client communication -for example, client portals built into case management systems?
Case Status is an interactive app on the client’s phone that is designed to provide real-time updates and streamline communication. Thus, it is easy-to-use and not difficult to navigate like a client portal. Further, client portals do not contain a referral feature.
Additionally, Case Status is different than other options considering we are improving the way attorneys and clients communicate. We are looking to save attorneys time, empower clients with information, and create a better attorney/client relationship.
Q. What are your goals for Case Status? Where would you like the company to be three years from now?
We want law firms of any size (from solos to larger firms) to have the ability to offer an app to clients. Considering the price of Case Status is very reasonable, the goal is to bring a major ROI to firms. We plan to continue to add features for our attorneys and their clients to make their lives better and allow them to do what they love, which is focus on the practice of law.
Q. Now that Case Status is up and running, what is your day to day role in the company? Can you describe a typical day (if there is such a thing?)
Every day is different. However, my role is to bring value to law firms. Sometimes that is through speaking at events or conducting demonstrations. I often discuss how implementing tech (whether it be through our services or others) can help attorneys run a more efficient and profitable law firm. Our team only discusses Case Status with firms that we believe are a good fit and would really benefit from our platform. At the end of the day, our mission is help our customer law firms achieve their vision and growth strategy as they move forward.
Q. How does your training and experience as a lawyer help you in running your company?
I believe attorneys by nature are analytical and problem solvers. These traits have served me well in running Case Status. Further, having a legal background has been incredibly helpful in developing and growing a business.
Q. Do you think that coding experience is beneficial to lawyers who want to start a legal tech company? What skills do you think are most important?
I think coding is a great skill to possess, however it is difficult to learn. Further, it is a skill that requires continued education considering it is constantly changing. Therefore, I think it is better to double down and utilize the skills you possess. That being said, basic development knowledge is essential in leading a tech company. It is impossible to lead a team of developers if you do not understand the basics of what you are trying to accomplish.
Q. What are some of the differences between running a tech start up and running a law firm (or working at a firm)?
The fundamental principles of starting a business is the same, however the strategy in building a tech company versus a law firm is very different. Generally, law firms are focused on creating a local, long-standing business. Tech companies focus on servicing a large audience quickly and must be very sensitive and nimble to the pulse of the market. Regardless, to develop a successful business, it is critical to build a brand that stands for integrity and provides value to its customers.
Q. What was the biggest challenge for you in transitioning from law practice to your current position?
It was a very difficult decision to leave the day-to-day practice of law. Like so many others, I spent my entire life working towards being an attorney, and it was my identity. It took a long time to recognize that even though I love the practice of law, my true passion related more towards helping attorneys improve their practices. When I was honest with myself, I knew it was the right decision.
Q. Do you miss practicing law? What have you done, if anything, to keep your law license and legal skills intact?
I miss the day-to-day practice, but I act in a corporate counsel capacity for Case Status. I am still active in South Carolina, and plan to keep up with all necessary requirements.
Q. Do you have any formal training in technology or “hot” technical skills (e.g., programming, product development, data science) and are these skills necessary to build your company?
I do not have formal training in programming, but I am very drawn to tech. It is important to me to keep up daily on the current tech trends so we can continue to grow and provide value to our customer base.
Q. If another lawyer was interested in starting a tech company, what advice would you have?
If you have an idea, start validating it. Really think about the logistics of the problem and the solutions of how to solve it. If it is a good idea and you are passionate about pursuing it, start reading books on the process and reach out to potential mentors. If it is your true calling, and you are willing to be resourceful, you will find a way to pursue your goal.
Q. What excites you most about the future of legal technology?
Practicing law is a very honorable job, but it can be taxing. Luckily, there is tech available that will greatly improve the lives of attorneys. This tech will allow attorneys to focus their talents on what they love to do, whether that is advocating in the courtroom or playing hardball at mediation. Attorneys are advocates for others who need help, and that is where attorneys need to focus their value and energy.