Congratulations to Needles Featured Client, Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm, LLC of Plymouth, MN!
We recently caught up with Mark Kosieradzki, partner at Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm. The firm just went through a Needles data cleanup, and converted all of their documents from WordPerfect to Word.
Tell us a little about your firm and how you use Needles to help accomplish firm goals?
Kosieradzki & Smith is different in that we are not considered a “volume law firm”. Case types are restricted mostly to med-mal and catastrophic litigation. Originally, we ran about 300 cases per lawyer, but we’ve since downsized to 60 cases total with a team of four lawyers. In addition, we track and review specialized cases such as nursing home abuse and burn/scald cases from other law firms. These amount to about 10-30 additional cases per week, and provide a challenge in finding out the “why” behind the action. This, in turn helps to prove that the defendant was in the wrong. Managing incoming leads is a challenge that we couldn’t accomplish without Needles.
We manage our office calendar very heavily through Needles, allowing us to run a completely paperless office. Staff consists of four lawyers, two paralegals, and one secretary. The small staff allows us to be agile and to adapt to any changes quickly. Needles allows us to quickly generate routine correspondence, as well as gather and manage records (as opposed to utilizing an independent service). Fields are set up to track when records do or do not come in, which then automatically download to a database. Authorizations are on the PDF Merge function. Finally, checklists are customized to manage items like the complex federal calendar.
We understand you completed a data cleanup process with one of our Certified Needles Trainers. Can you tell us how that process went?
When we first started using Needles 15 years ago, the industry standard for courts and lawyers was WordPerfect. Since then, many legal systems have converted to Microsoft Word, which has forced us and our colleagues to make the switch as well. The process was not without its bumps, but was overall a smooth transition. We went through the process of cleaning up data and converting document formats about a year ago.
Now that you are working in a “clean system”, what have been some of the benefits of updating your case types and data fields?
Benefits have included new data fields which deal with virtually every aspect of the case, ranging from records, to witnesses, documents, and more. The Documents tab now links into a central server where documents are stored, as opposed to storing documents on individual machines. Reports can be run and generated from each screen, and anything that happens on the file is chronicled. Finally, we maintain a database of Needles Experts that can be accessed for any case. The unofficial mantra around the office is “If it’s not in Needles, it didn’t happen.”
What were some of the challenges you faced in deciding to make a change to the way data was handled in your Needles system?
When going through and re-doing the letters, we found that a lot of the fields didn’t make sense any more, and we had to ensure that fields were set up properly. Some letters have 5-25 fields in them, pulling anything from case numbers, courts, judge’s names, dates, follow-up dates, and more. Originally, there were 400 letters in the system, many of which were duplicates or different versions of the same letter. This “stack” of letters has since been pared down to about 80-90, with a basic core draft being generated from Needles. Changing from WordPerfect to Word took about 2 months, and consisted mostly of people reading documents, reviewing, determining what the document needed, where it was redundant, deleting duplicate letters, and a whole host of other edits! We ultimately decided it was better to have a single basic letter with prompts as opposed to different drafts of essentially the same document.
How important was the trainer to this process?
Very important. We used Ann May heavily throughout this process, and her expertise and professionalism were invaluable.
What features of Needles does your firm most utilize?
We use Needles, all day every day. I am able to manage my caseload from Needles, whether it’s from my desk, or on my iPad at the airport. I am able to run reports to balance caseloads, see case status’, triage checklists, and perform a number of other tasks. Another feature we use heavily is the Calendar, which allows us to track employee whereabouts at a glance.
Needles would like to congratulate Mark Kosieradzki on being named a “Super Lawyer” by the Minnesota Super Lawyers List! Mark has been named a Super Lawyer for ten years running. Congratulations Mark!