Turning Crisis into Innovation for Contingency Fee Law Firms

Turning Crisis into Innovation for Contingency Fee Law Firms

In this blog, we discuss how the pandemic impacted contingency fee law firms, turning crisis into innovation, featuring insights from Mary Ellen Murrah, operations consultant from Vista Consulting, who authored this article.

Facing Disruptions

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic upended countless industries, and the legal sector was no exception. Law firms, especially plaintiff-oriented practices, faced unprecedented disruptions, from halted court operations to abrupt shifts in client needs. Yet, amid the chaos, there were opportunities.

Turning Crisis Into Innovation

Contingency fee law firms that embraced change pivoted swiftly, employing technology to ensure operational continuity, elevate client service, and harness efficiency like never before. They weathered the storm and emerged more robust and resilient, carving out competitive advantages that continue redefining the legal landscape.

In partnership with Esquire Bank, Vista Consulting brings you a closer look at the monumental changes that strengthened firms by turning crisis into innovation, and continued to shape the legal landscape post-pandemic.

3 Ways The Pandemic Changed Plaintiff Law Firms


Embracing Remote Work

The sudden surge to remote work forced an investment in remote technology solutions for plaintiff law firms. Robust cloud-based case management systems, virtual meetings, and secure communication platforms swiftly became fundamental ops tools. These technologies facilitated a smooth transition during the lockdowns.

“We’ve seen many plaintiff law firms continue to embrace remote or flexible work arrangements, recognizing the long-term benefits,” noted Mary Ellen Murrah, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer at Vista Consulting. “These forward-thinking practices have implemented robust digital infrastructure, regular training, and clear communication protocols to ensure their team members are well-equipped for success.”

Law firms open to remote workers can attract and hire from a much larger talent pool. “We’ve even seen a shift to hiring offshore virtual assistants for task-based work like demand writing and medical record requests,” said Mary Ellen. By leveraging technology and specialized workers, lawyers and their support team members can focus their time on high-value, analytical work, leading to sustained or even enhanced productivity. This adaptation can potentially reduce overhead costs and bolster employee satisfaction and work-life balance. Remote work doesn’t come without challenges and must be approached thoughtfully. Firms need to be intentional about culture and establish clear lines of communication.

Revolutionizing Client Communication

The pandemic underscored the absolute necessity for regular, clear client communication. Without the ability to meet in person, emails, video conferencing, texting, and client portals kept clients abreast of their case progress and allowed firms to continue to sign-up cases electronically. Law firms that dismissed using technology in the past, thinking their client was not in the right demographic to understand electronic agreements or digital communication suddenly found themselves with no other choice. Many of those law firms were surprised to learn how agile and open their clients and potential clients were to technology.

Firms that Vista Consulting has observed achieving significant success post-pandemic have brilliantly intertwined technology with a human touch. While digital tools enhance availability and efficiency, proactive calls, personalized emails, thoughtful check-ins, and occasional face-to-face meetings continue to be pivotal.

Driving Efficiency with Automation

The pandemic catalyzed the incorporation of automation tools within law firms. Toolsets like document automation, AI-powered legal research and demand-writing, automated tasks within case management software, and sophisticated intake chatbots simplified tasks, mitigated manual workloads, and boosted overall efficiency. By automating repetitive tasks, law firms saved valuable time. “These efficiencies continue to be enhanced post-pandemic, and we are seeing many firms use AI-driven technology and build out incredible workflows using automated texts and emails,” explained Mary Ellen.

Additionally, traditional paper-based processes lost their practicality as firms were thrust into digitizing. This transition not only decreased administrative burdens but also aligned with sustainability efforts.

As with all automations, it’s absolutely critical for your team to review and test extensively to ensure auto-generated letters are correct, demands are thorough and complete, and client communication is accurate and on-brand.  At the core of legal services lies a fundamentally human endeavor—one that is enhanced by, but cannot be fully replaced by, technology.

Leading in a Disruptive World

Perhaps the most profound impact on plaintiff law firms was the cultivation of resilience and adaptability. It’s clear that technology and its integration into legal practice will continue to play a defining role in shaping the industry’s future landscape, making it an exciting time for plaintiff law firms to embrace change, explore new opportunities, and thrive in the post-pandemic world.

Finding the Right Financing to Fund Technology

The drawback to integrating these technologies is often the costs – hefty implementation fees and yearly on-going subscription fees for service. Most contingency fee law firms are hard-pressed to write a check for these big purchases when they are stuck in the feast and famine cash flow cycle. This is where it is advantageous to have a knowledgeable financial partner.

One way to invest in these technologies is through a Working Capital Line of Credit. With this kind of financing, contingency fee law firms can implement technology which will pay for itself by allowing staff to take on more cases and push cases to resolution more quickly.

Another way to find the cash for new technologies is through a Case Cost Line of Credit. By financing case costs, firms free up capital tied up in case costs to reinvest in their own growth. Case Cost Financing is becoming common practice in the contingency fee industry and many industry leaders credit it with the growth they have been able to achieve.

Learn your firm can benefit from turning crisis into innovation, speak with an Esquire Bank Business Development Officer.

 Meet with Esquire Bank

Discover how your law firm can leverage case cost financing to free up capital that can be invested in marketing, technology, talent, operations, case acquisition, and scaling law firm growth. Schedule a no-obligation consultation with an Esquire Bank Business Development Officer at a time convenient to your schedule.


Looking to Learn More About Law Firm Growth Strategies?

Download the eBook now, “5 Bold Strategies to Grow Your Contingency Fee Law Firm,” to get your hands on our top strategies for achieving exponential growth.


The information provided in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only. Some of the information may not be applicable or appropriate for all law firms.

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