For Stephanie Fakih, the term “legal counsel” is an apt description of what she does. That’s because it’s incredibly important for her to ensure that her clients understand the entire legal process–what’s happening to them, what’s next, and what her role is.
“We’re called attorneys and counselors for a reason and I take that role seriously,” she explains. “It’s my job to make sure that my clients completely understand all aspects of their case.”
Helping clients from the very start
Because of her desire to help others in need, Stephanie was always drawn to criminal defense. While in law school she had aspirations to become a public defender and when she graduated, her first job was aligned with that goal: “Right out of law school I obtained a grant attorney position with the State Appellate Defender’s Office in Michigan and I handled appeals for people who couldn’t afford an attorney. While there I fought wrongful convictions. It was such a rewarding experience!”
Taking the next step
When the grant ended, Stephanie hung her shingle. While it wasn’t an easy decision, it was the right one. Starting her own firm gave her the flexibility to continue helping people in need while continuing to expand her areas of practice.
“I had always wanted to start my own firm, so when the grants ended, I knew it was finally time for me to go out on my own. My firm focuses on criminal defense,” she explains. “But I focus on other areas, too, including including real estate and civil rights cases. It all goes back to helping people.”
Making the right decisions for a fledgling practice
When Stephanie decided to open her own law office in Southfield, Michigan, she knew she needed to build the firm on a strong foundation, from the ground up. She sought out cost effective and powerful tools to help keep her practice organized.
For her needs, affordable web-based law practice management software simply made sense: “Cloud-based software was the perfect choice for me since I was starting fresh and didn’t have to deal with old documents. And, it’s so simple and affordable—especially because there’s no need for an IT guy. Another benefit–it helps me stay organized and I don’t have to worry about storage or losing things. And I can access my files from anywhere. I can be at any computer and as long as I have an internet connection, I have my whole law firm right in front of me. And most importantly, I have peace of mind and don’t have to worry because I know my data is secure.”
MyCase–the right choice
Stephanie did her research before settling on MyCase. In fact, she actually started off using a different platform but then switched over to MyCase. She explains that MyCase’s intuitive interface and robust feature set are what convinced her to choose MyCase.
“At first I started with Clio because I’m licensed in Michigan and they offer a discount through the bar association. Right away I was struck by the clunky interface: I didn’t feel like it was intuitive or user-friendly,” she says.
But then she discovered MyCase. “A couple of weeks later, I signed up for MyCase. There were two reasons I left Clio and chose MyCase,” she explains. “First, I love the Workflows feature. I handle criminal appeals, which have critical deadlines and dates. MyCase allows me to create workflows for my appeal matters and then automatically apply that workflow to each new client’s case. That way I don’t have to re-create the wheel each time by entering all the critical dates every time I open a new case.”
Another reason that she chose MyCase was because of the easy-to-use customization features: “The template to customize fields was simple, I could instantly figure out how to do it. With Clio it was just the opposite. In fact, I couldn’t figure out how to do it and it was incredibly frustrating. MyCase just made sense. And, the interface is cleaner–the location of the tabs, the way the screen looks, and even the colors. It’s just intuitive and easy. That’s why I chose MyCase.”
Using MyCase to make a difference
For Stephanie, the efficient use of technology is key to achieving her goal of having a 21st century client-centric law practice. “I want my law firm and my firm’s website to be a source of information for people. I want to use technology to help protect people’s rights, ” she explains. “Clients need to understand what’s going on and I want to be known as the lawyer who made the practice of law more about educating. That’s why my technology choices were so important. I focused on being paperless and using technology to communicate with my clients as much as possible. That’s where MyCase came into the picture.”
Other goals for the future include expanding the contents of her firm’s website to include more educational information: “Right now I’m working on the firm’s website and plan to expand into videos such as short videos that answer questions clients frequently ask.”
What advice does this enterprising young lawyer have for other attorneys considering going solo? “Live by what you trust, not by what you fear. You can do it. It’s not as insurmountable as it seems and it’s definitely easier with tools like MyCase. Just go for it.”