(Your Key Performance Indicators are crucial to determining your success)
When a lawsuit ends with a settlement or verdict in favor of your client, the office staff congratulates you and your friends and family are effusive in their praise. The goodwill around your office lasts for a few days as the buzz about the great result starts to wear down. You begin thinking of moving on to other cases and putting the case behind you.
But did you really win?
The public perception of your “great” result is usually based on very little. Your friends and family only know that you got a lot of money for a case that seemed to have insurmountable problems in liability or damages. Even your lawyer friends who slap you on the back in court don’t know the facts about your case. Perhaps if you think about it, you have to admit your client didn’t really get the great result that everyone thinks.
But how do you measure success for your clients? Is it enough to simply get a big settlement and ignore everything else, like the length of time it took to get the result or the amount of money that it cost to get the “great” result? We all know the expression, “justice delayed is justice denied”, but aren’t we guilty of taking too long getting our cases through discovery and trial…c’mon, admit it, we’re all guilty.
What can you do to make sure your results are based on more than just the amount of the settlement or verdict? How can you establish a flow chart in your office for determining that every case gets to trial based upon your rules for your practice?
Establishing the Key Performance Indicators for your practice is crucial to making sure the “great result” is just that
What if you established measurable goals for every lawsuit? We’re talking about realistic, attainable goals that you can use to determine success for every one of your cases.
The Key Performance Indicators are goals that you must establish for every lawsuit. In the personal injury world, the Key Performance Indicators are based on three categories:
- #1: Timing;
- #2: Cost-Effectiveness; and
- #3: Result.
Timing is the length of time that it took from the filing of the lawsuit until the first day of trial; Cost-Effectiveness is the ratio between the amount of your legal fee and the case disbursements (it should be 10-1); and the Result is whether you reached the goals for the settlement value that you establish when you first accept the case.
Let’s focus on the first Key Performance Indicator: Timing.
The First Key Performance Indicator (“Timing”): How long did it take to get your case to trial
You must establish attainable goals for the lawsuit from the filing of the lawsuit through trial. You do not measure our success just by the end result, i.e., the amount of money recovered for the client. Your success is measured by the number of days that it took to get the result. A great outcome for your client isn’t so great if it took five years to get it.
In the first Key Performance Indicator (“Timing”), there are four metrics that you should track in every lawsuit in four categories:
#1: Discovery Responses: How many days does it take between (a) our receipt of the defendants’ discovery demands and the (b) service of the plaintiffs’ discovery responses?
#2: Depositions: How many days does it take between the (a) service of the plaintiffs’ discovery responses and the (b) first deposition?
#3: Completion of Discovery: How many days does it take between our (a) receipt of the defendants’ answer and the (b) filing of the note of issue?
#4: Completion of the Lawsuit: How many days does it take between the (a) filing of the lawsuit and the (b) first day of trial (or the settlement of the case if that occurs)?
You must document the number of days that it takes for each of the four categories. If you receive the defendants’ discovery responses on September 30th and you served the plaintiffs’ discovery responses and bill of particulars on November 7th, then it took 38 days for us to serve the plaintiffs’ discovery responses (Category #1: Discovery Responses).
You must have measurable, attainable goals for your cases
Your goal is simple: GET TO TRIAL AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. Your clients will not get a result until the trial date (or in some cases just a day or two before the trial date), so it is your NUMBER ONE GOAL to get the case to trial as quickly as possible.
There are specific measurable goals for each of the four “Key Performance Indicators”. The goals for each category are:
#1: Discovery Responses: How many days does it take between (a) our receipt of the defendants’ discovery demands and the (b) service of the plaintiffs’ discovery responses? 30 DAYS
#2: Depositions: How many days does it take between the (a) service of the plaintiffs’ discovery responses and the (b) first deposition? 90 DAYS
#3: Completion of Discovery: How many days does it take between your (a) receipt of the defendants’ answer and the (b) filing of the note of issue? 180 DAYS
#4: Completion of the Lawsuit: How many days does it take between the (a) filing of the lawsuit and the (b) first day of trial (or the settlement of the case if that occurs)? 1 YEAR AND 6 MONTHS
How you get your Staff on board with your Key Performance Indicators
Sounds great, but easier said than done, right? So, how do we accomplish our goal? Simple, you must make sure that your staff is aware of these goals and complies with deadlines.
First, ask your paralegal or secretary to prepare a flow chart showing the number of days that it took to complete each of the four stages of the lawsuit. Did you get your lawsuit to trial within 1 year and six months? How many days did it take to serve discovery responses after your receipt of the defendants’ answer? Once the discovery responses were served, how many days did it take to complete depositions?
You might not like the answers. But the key is to MEASURE AND QUANTIFY EVERYTHING. Once you measure how long it took to complete each of the four phases of the lawsuit, you are on your way to getting the results that your clients deserve.
How can we help you become more awesome?
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