What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced while blazing the trail in the estate dispute practice area?
In broad strokes, there are four areas that have been challenging.
Intake and review. In the marketing sense, we’ve started from scratch without the benefit of other firms’ prior experiences with our intake and case vetting processes. With a significant amount of call volume and a low conversion, we’ve worked hard finding specific information and case patterns that help us find and secure viable claims efficiently.
Finding and retaining attorney talent with the right mix of probate and litigation experience. To find the perfect mix without training is like finding a unicorn in the black forest. As an alternative, we’ve found that training a good litigator in probate can be much more successful than training a probate guy in litigation.
CASH FLOW + GROWTH = TOUGH. With the time, effort and stress related to accomplishing 1, 2 & 3, building and maintaining a culture of trust and open communication across all levels of the organization is difficult. Recognizing and acknowledging that reality is half the battle, and we’re dedicated to improvement. you track 15 different kpis regarding marketing, operations and legal.
Which would you say are the most critical?
- CONVERSION RATE
- AVERAGE CASE FEE
- TIME ON DESK
Together, these most accurately predict success as follows:
- Raw leads coming in the door are largely controlled by budget, but conversion gives an early indicator of lead quality and ties to overall case volume.
- Once you know your conversion rate, and by extension, volume,
the average case fee is the best predictor of future revenue.
- Time on desk (case in the door on x and closed by y) tells you when you can expect your revenue.
If anyone would like to see all KPIs, as well as get more information about our firm’s operations and strategic vision, I would encourage they visit our dashboard.
What have you identified as the most significant differences between pi and probate intake and review processes? While there are several similarities to PI intake, we believe there are two main distinctions. First, the vetting process on the probate side for qualifying and determining whether or not a claim has enough merit to pursue takes longer. Once an intake meets our initial screening criteria, it typically takes about 3 weeks to procure and review needed documentation to make a final call. This is typically securing the will, trust, deed, sometimes medical records, or whatever documentation needed to confirm a viable opportunity.
Also, I would say there’s a lot more emotion behind the decision to pursue an action by a potential probate client. We’ve learned that if we’re too aggressive in the intake and signup stage, we will drive them away. We have to remember that this is family against family and allow them to process those emotions as we move forward.
What are some good tips or learning opportunities for firms that may decide to enter the practice area? Intake is the key in the probate world. With disqualifying 94 out of 100 inquiries, being accurate and efficient with the intake and evaluation process is critical.
Then, once you have a viable claim, you have to have an attorney knowledgeable in probate but also savvy on the litigation side. Although the goal is settlement, all these cases go down the litigation path. A good litigator with probate knowledge in his or her arsenal can find the pressure points along that path that increase the chance of a faster resolution.
With these types of cases I’m sure you encounter many unusual situations. What’s the strangest story you’ve heard so far? The caller was the decedent’s daughter inquiring about her fair share of her father’s estate. During the intake, she revealed that her stepmother had put her father in the freezer at home following his death for two days. Other than being concerned about being cheated out of her full inheritance, she wanted to know if keeping him in the freezer was legal. Hmm… let me think about it…
Finally, what’s the latest on the “big case”, Kessler? Although a settlement proposal, favorable to both sides, was being extended as of this writing, we have not had formal discussions. An 8 week jury trial has been set for Spring of 2017. That’s the latest on the case itself, however the “Big News” related to the “Big Case” is that Beasley Allen has joined forces with us as Co-Counsel. We’re very excited to have them onboard. You can read more about it in the Jere Beasley Report. Finally, the national cable TV show “Crime Watch Daily” produced an in-depth, two part series on the Kessler story. If you would like to view the series, trust me, it’s entertaining. Search: “Crime Watch Daily: Tycoon Leaves $800M to Young Widow – pt1” on YouTube.