Significant time savings with case notes tagging and Activity Feed
Seamless transition from Needles Desktop to Neos
Dramatically reduced IT issues and server-related costs
Matt Darby started Darby Law Group in October 2021. The firm, located in the Baltimore suburbs, focuses on workers’ compensation and personal injury, particularly work injury claims for public safety employees such as firefighters and police officers. The firm also serves a unique market sector: railroad employees. Because railroad worker injury claims are governed by federal law, few firms handle this type of case. Darby also represents rail workers in whistleblower cases under the Federal Rail Safety Act.
After an amicable split from a large law firm, Darby wanted easy-to-use case management software that wouldn’t require the upfront and ongoing cost of purchasing and maintaining servers. Neos was the obvious choice, not only because of its industry-leading functionality, but because of the simple migration process and Darby’s familiarity with Needles Desktop, also from Assembly. He had heard good things about Neos from other customers and had always felt his prior firm might have been better served by the cloud-based system.
Transitioning from a large firm using Needles Desktop to a solo practice implementing Neos meant Darby got both the experience of setting up Neos from scratch for a new firm and of migrating ongoing cases from Needles Desktop to Neos.
I found that the transition from Needles to Neos was very easy and let us hit the ground running with the new cloud-based version.
Fact-heavy Cases Require Clear Organization End easy Access to Information
One challenge in a practice like Darby’s is that the attorney may be simultaneously managing hundreds of cases, and those cases are very fact dependent. That’s especially true in the railroad practice, where Darby says he’s currently handling about 175 fact-intense cases. Every demand letter, discussion with opposing counsel, or conversation with an expert requires re-orienting to the often-complex facts of a particular case.
Darby points to this as a key strength of the Neos platform, saying, “I really value being able to jump back and forth between complicated cases without having to do a whole lot of reorienting myself with the facts, because the facts are all clearly laid out.” He uses custom-created topic tags for notes to easily pull up relevant information. And, when he needs to narrow the focus further, the ability to search notes in Neos has proved invaluable – one of many areas where Darby sees Neos as more robust and user-friendly than Needles Desktop.
Similarly, he says the Activity Feed has been a big timesaver, since it allows him to check up on all case activity in one place, without having to delve into notes and documents or look at different staff members’ activity.
Efficiency matters in any business, but it’s especially important in the legal profession, because your ability to generate revenue is time-based. “To make the practice more successful,” Darby says, “you have to leverage your time as best you can. To do that, you’ve got to be able to quickly access information.”
A Busy Law Firm Can’t Afford to Waste Time During a Transition
Darby faced a double transition, managing all the aspects of starting a new practice while also migrating existing case files from Needles Desktop at his old firm into the brand-new Neos setup. As the sole attorney in the new firm, juggling ongoing cases with operational issues like securing office space and creating a website for the new firm, Darby had no time to waste with a labor-intensive transition.
For Darby’s team, shifting into the cloud created a best-of-both-worlds situation: Neos was similar enough to Needles to pick up easily, with little training. Yet, the cloud-based platform offered “a plethora of upgrades,” such as e-signature, report subscriptions, and document collaboration, and that made using the system more efficient. For example, Darby appreciates the simplified process of texting a client directly from the party screen and the ability to filter checklists for an uncluttered view of the most relevant information.
The combination of familiarity, simple migration, and helpful new features added up to a seamless operational experience.
I didn’t miss a beat. I was able to follow up on some of the larger cases I had and not have a dip in productivity.
The new system was up and running quickly. And, Darby’s team was able to migrate much of the data associated with cases he took with him from the old firm to his new Neos setup seamlessly.
He also notes that the Neos team was very considerate of the challenge he was facing in the transition and worked with him to make sure he and his staff were able to hit the ground running with the new platform.
The time savings Darby experienced during the transition continue in day-to-day use of the cloud-based platform. For example, while the old firm was reliant on IT staff to update the Needles Desktop software, Neos updates happen automatically, in real-time. Because those updates are deployed on the Neos server and not locally, everyone on the team is always looking at the most up-to-date version of Neos and has immediate access to new features and improvements.
Cutting IT Costs and Complications
Darby’s previous firm relied on Needles Desktop. While he liked the platform, the server-based version wasn’t the best option because of the abrupt need for remote access and collaboration during the pandemic. But for the most part, it was due to saving money on IT costs, receiving technology updates, and reliability.
Darby found Neos to be a money-saver. Of course, that starts with not having to make an upfront investment in servers and other equipment. Being able to get started with just a computer and an internet connection meant huge cost savings. He says, “Starting out as a new firm, I didn’t have to buy the server, I didn’t have to worry about making sure the server environment was protected and all that kind of stuff. It was a huge initial savings for me, in addition to just being able to have an Ethernet connection and plug in the computers.”
That simplicity was especially important for Darby because the new firm started out operating remotely. With a cloud-based platform, he didn’t need to find a place to temporarily set up servers securely, then relocate them to the new office.
There are also many smaller expenses associated with maintaining a server onsite. These include the need for extra office space and increased utility costs – both for running the server itself and due to increasing cooling needs. The most significant, of course, is IT support.
Darby’s previous firm employed full-time, in-house IT support to handle server issues and backups, among other tasks. The new firm only uses an outside company for IT support as needed. Though the new firm has only been operating for a few months, that need has diminished significantly. At the old firm, IT needed to work on server issues. “Since we don’t need a server now,” says Darby, “we haven’t had these issues crop up.”
The Right Tools Can Make You a Better Lawyer
Efficiency obviously means attorneys and law firm staff save time. That offers many benefits internally, including increased profitability and reduced stress on staff. And, an intuitive, easy-to-use system improves staff communication by ensuring that everyone is using the tools consistently and can easily find information about actions taken by other staff members. What many attorneys don’t realize is that those same efficiencies benefit the client.
For example, the greater ease of pulling up all pertinent information quickly in one place enables both attorneys and staff to respond quickly to both clients and others involved in the case. The ability to quickly communicate specific information gives the client greater confidence in the attorney and case progress, reducing a common stressor in many types of consumer cases.
Darby encourages fellow attorneys who may be reluctant to make the leap to the cloud. He says there’s a lot of concern about jumping back and forth from one system to another, but that resolves quickly as cases wrap up and everything new originates in the cloud platform. For those who have been using Needles Desktop, the ease of migration of existing files will eliminate the need for overlapping use of different systems.
For those concerned with security in the cloud, he points out that there are security concerns with any system. He personally knows of law firm servers that have been hacked. Neos relies on servers with 24/7 security monitoring, controlled server-site access, multi-region back-up, data encryption, and other security features.
I haven’t lost a wink of sleep over security in the cloud.