Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers is a personal injury law firm with offices across Central Texas. Founding Partner Jonathan Stark grew up in Lubbock, Texas and went to Texas A&M University where he met his now business partner Danny Daniel.
Prior to founding Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, Jonathan worked in the litigation department at one law firm, and Danny worked at another, settling many of his cases pre-litigation. They met up many times during their shared passion for bass hunting and always said, “It would be great if we could join up and be law partners. We each understand a different side of the business, and it would be perfect.” Finally, after six months, having just completed law school and within weeks of discovering they’d both passed the bar and with barely enough money for rent, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers was born.
The early days of starting a law firm
As Jonathan shares, the first several years of starting your own law firm versus coming into a legacy firm were rough, but they survived. After about five years, they felt they were on the verge of greatness when the file cabinet could no longer fit all their cases. It was time for their first case management software…
Their first software (name censored 😉) was helpful for a time and enabled the firm to transition from paper to on-premise technology. It provided stability and gave them a predictable cost per case and predictable average fee. By 2011, everything had changed about the way personal injury law was done in Texas: there had been a sweeping tort reform, primarily targeted at medical malpractice, and then medical bills that were paid by a health insurance for the contractual write-off amount were no longer allowed to be presented as damages to a jury.
When paid or incurred came to Texas, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers was still a relatively small firm and they lost 60-70% of their case value overnight. Jonathan and Daniel thought the firm may go out of business, and then they had their “AHA!” moment.
The firm went on a learning mission — they read all the leading books on trial advocacy, experimented with new techniques, sent their lawyers to events and training colleges, and it began to work.
“We began running our law firm not on intuition, which if you’re a founder, is a huge part of how you get started. But we realized we were at a point where we had to shift from feelings and intuition and begin relying on data,” said Jonathan. They had a problem though, and that problem was transparency. The firm had tons of data in their old case management system, but it wasn’t easily accessible, and they needed a better way to be able to quickly identify the cases that could most benefit from trial.
Big case review is born: how to drive better outcomes for your clients
Jonathan and his firm attended LitiQuest and heard from several firms about their experience using Litify. The theme happened to be transparency and automation — the challenges they were faced with — and they were also inspired by some of the strategies they heard about during the event. Jonathan saw some of the results these firms were getting on everyday cases, single-event cases like what the Daniel Stark Injury Law firm handled, and he went back to the office and started putting that inspiration into action — and big case review was born.
Big case review is a meeting rhythm, a report, and a review process. The firm looks at every single that has at least $250,000 in identified insurance or is marked as a commercial defendant. But for it to work, you need to have structured, accessible data. In their old system, when it came to insurance limits, attorneys might identify a $30,000 insurance limit as 30/60, 30K, or 30,000 — making it nearly impossible to run a report to get that data. For Daniel Stark, it meant a conversation and a migration to a new system: Litify.
“Your clients deserve the best case management software out there to allow you to get them the best result.”
Second, the person reviewing your cases needs to be ridiculously aggressive and it’s best if they don’t have cases themselves. If your reviewer has their own docket, there’s a level of hypocrisy that can’t be avoided. They’ll be weighing their recommendations against their other responsibilities and own cost-benefit analyses. If the reviewer doesn’t have their own cases, they have no excuse for not outlining everything that can be done to help — that’s zealous advocacy.
Finding transparency through Litify
Remember the previous case management system where data wasn’t easily accessible? In Litify, Jonathan and his team have personalized their org and set it up with the big case review process in mind. They’ve built a Matter Memo that enables them to roll-up all their case information into a single screen — pictures of the property damage, total amount of insurance available, client information, economic damages — so they can get right to work on the case recommendations
“If you’re relying upon a flash of genius from one of the lawyers at your firm, no matter how good they are, and you’re not using systems, processes, and data to identify these cases, you’re losing a fortune.”
Watch the full video for more insights into how Jonathan Stark and his team use big case review to get better outcomes for their clients — or learn more about how Litify's Practice Management Solution for Plaintiff can help you unlock high performance and drive continuous improvement, from intake to settlement.