The 6 Commandments of Kick-ass Case Tracking

August 11, 2017
6min read

According to an industry expert, one of the main reasons young legal funding businesses fail is poor or non-existent case servicing. What these ill-fated businesses don't know is that, after a plaintiff is funded, the next and most crucial, time-consuming part of running a funding company is case tracking. By monitoring your investments between the time of funding and settlement, funders ensure investment security and are able to anticipate returns to plan future investments.

In this post, you will learn the 6 primary steps to case tracking to help you either build your case tracking process or improve the case-tracking machine you already have in place.

  1. Confirm your lien
  2. Establish your contact point
  3. Maintain contact every 60-120 days
  4. Use "case status" to increase your contact
  5. Leverage lien statements
  6. Use online tools

Six Steps to Track Cases

1. Send lien confirmation

We previously wrote about this topic and stand by what we said:

In short, whether by phone, email, or certified mail, you need written (ideally) or verbal validation of your lien by a law office employee.

Check out the above post for more details on why confirming your liens is the first, and potentially most crucial step in protecting your investments and maximizing your returns, as well as actionable tips and templates on how to do it effectively.

2. Establish your contact point

During your initial call, locate the contact person for the remainder of the case. This may be different than the paralegal you worked with to fund the plaintiff.

Depending on the size of the law firm and attorney caseload, the contact person could be anyone from the lawyer or paralegal to the lien, or a dedicated funding manager, who manages updates to pre-settlement plaintiff funders for the entire firm.

There is no one-size fits all answer when searching for the contact, so it's critical to use your judgment and find him or her early in the process.

3. Maintain contact every 60 - 120 days

The timeline for tracking follow-up will vary case-by-case, but case updates should be received every 60 to 180 days depending on a variety of factors, such as case type, the age of lien, jurisdiction, and case status, among others.

"Contact" should happen through email correspondence or a phone call. Email is typically better, as you then have the conversations in writing, which could be valuable if the case runs into issues later on.

At each point of contact, ensure you note the following information in your software system's case tracking update function:

  1. Date of contact
  2. Whom you spoke to
  3. Whether the plaintiff is still receiving treatment, or not
  4. The status of the case
  5. Timeline for settlement -- if there is no timeline, find out when to follow-up next (it's crucial to figure out when the next case event will be)
  6. If update is by phone, ask for the best point of contact's email address

Your goal over the course of this correspondence is threefold: 1) remind the law firm you have a lien on their case(s) 2) confirm the attorney is still representing the client 3) anticipate the timeline for settlement, which is especially important for funders who report to outside investors or capital providers. Having accurate and up-to-date case statuses is crucial for credibility and trust.

If you have multiple cases with one law firm, send update requests in batches. It saves everyone time in the end.

One crucial reminder here is to never give payoff amounts over the phone. If you receive a case-update over the phone and the paralegal or attorney asks for a payoff, get his/her email address and follow-up your call with an online correspondence containing the payoff letter.

4. Use "Case Status" to increase the frequency of your contact

If during one of your routine check-in calls you learn that a particular case has the demand filed, is in-suit, received a settlement offer, or reached another stage indicating a resolution of any sort, it is now time to flag that investment.

In these instances, the case may warrant a two-week check-in period, as you should be expecting to receive your return in relatively short order. 

Examples of case statuses include:                                                                                                                                  

  • Case Pending: case has not been filled
  • Complaint Filed: complaint has been filed with the court
  • Demand Sent / Pending: demand has been sent to the Defendant
  • Mediation Scheduled: case is in arbitration or mediation and may be settling soon
  • Case in suit: case has been filled and is bound for trial
  • Discovery completed: discovery for trial has been completed
  • Trial Scheduled: trial is scheduled
  • In Settlement review: firm is attempting to settle the case
  • Settled: case has settled; confirm with attorney when the funds should be released
  • Awaiting check from law firm: money is in attorney's trust fund, but needs to be released to funder

5. Leverage "Lien Statements," but don't rely on them

In between phone/email check-ins, many funders also use lien statements to stay top-of-mind with their law firms.

Often, these statements are lists of plaintiffs at the law firm who have received funding, reports on the date they were funded and the current payoff amount.

Click here for a sample downloadable lien statement, the default generated by Mighty

Some funders view lien statements as an essential tool in their case-servicing tool box. Others take the position that they are only excess paperwork that gets ignored and can be confusing.

6. Use online tools to support your phone/email servicing

These services are only useful for cases in-suit; for such cases, however, they are indeed invaluable when it comes to understanding the status of a case without calling/emailing the attorney's office.

  • eLaw: paid software that tracks New York and New Jersey cases
  • eCourt: free information database on New York and New Jersey cases
  • Courtlink: paid software with access to Federal, State and local court records around the county
  • VerdictSearch: assessment of verdicts through settlement, trial, arbitration, etc. across the country based on certain facts. Shows value of certain cases. This is typically more helpful for underwriting purposes rather than case tracking.
  • County Court of Common Pleas: County run databases of cases in their local jurisdiction. Website and information available varies from county to county.  
  • Mighty: Our software, whether you're a medical provider or funder, incorporates these best practices into our platform.

Photo credit: Bruce Mars via Pexels

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The Mighty Team

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