Daniel M. Schafer Law Firm PLLC: Building Monthly Recurring Revenue with MyCase
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Daniel M. Schafer Law Firm, PLLC
San Antonio, Texas
A Bit of Backstory
Daniel Schafer has been practicing law as a solo for seven years. Before that, he worked at a larger firm with 3 attorneys and 3 staff. Since going solo, Daniel has been able to handle the same caseload his old firm did—over 600 open invoices—with the help of MyCase and 1 support staff. He uses MyCase's payment plan feature, in conjunction with MyCase Payments, to generate recurring revenue for his firm.
Let's start with the classic question: Why MyCase?
I've always been an efficient person. I used to work in a factory for a Fortune 500 company, focusing on process improvements and management. When I started my legal practice, I found that my billing through Excel was very inefficient. So, I brought my process improvement knowledge to my business and started looking for practice management. That's how I started using MyCase.
How does MyCase fit with your practice?
My primary practice area is consumer law because there's an unmet need for legal services in my area. Between 70%–98% of cases that go to trial have at least one civil litigant who's not represented by an attorney. There are 5.3 million Texans who qualify for legal aid, but only about 10% of those have civil legal needs that are actually being met. There's a huge need out there, so I help a lot of the people who would qualify for legal aid, but who can't get the help when they need it.
As I started taking these types of clients, I discovered that if I started to work on payment plans, people were willing to pay even if they couldn't pay everything up front. MyCase has helped me maintain about 600 open invoices and still build my client base. It's kept me from losing ground where I would have had to cut back on caseload. If I wasn't using MyCase, I would have had to decrease the number of clients I have because I would be spending so much time on billing.
It didn't take me long to decide that I needed to use MyCase. If I used nothing else in the software, I would still pay to use the payment plan feature.
I hear you have a unique way of getting your clients to use the Client Portal.
Yes, I incentivize my clients to interact with me in the most efficient way possible, which is through the Client Portal. If they don't get their invoice online, I have to go through the process of mailing it to them. After printing and mailing, I still have to process that payment on my own and reconcile it in MyCase. It's a time-waster. So, I tell them upfront that I will take $100–200 off their bill if they agree to receive their invoice online through the client portal. The portal and online payments are essential to saving me time and money, so I always like to pass that savings on to the clients who take advantage of it.
I also use the online payments feature because the reporting is essential. It used to be a chore to go through and figure out who was behind on their payments. I had to look at every invoice. Now, I can run a report and I'm on top of it. In seconds, I can see everything.
Tell me about the process of building your website.
Originally, I built my website on Wix and I had to maintain it myself. Frankly, it wasted a lot of my time. I realized I'd rather practice law full time than be a part-time web designer. With MyCase, my website looks a lot more professional. Now people go to my website not just to learn about me, but to get their invoices through the client portal and make payments. It adds a level of access that you wouldn't get with a lot of other firms. I really couldn't beat the price for my website and for what I got for it.
Now people go to my website not just to learn about me, but to get their invoices through the client portal and make payments. It adds a level of access that you wouldn't get with a lot of other firms.
How has MyCase cloud-based practice management software impacted your business?
One of the biggest changes will be taking my summers off in the coming years. I know as long as I have internet access, I can manage my cases through MyCase. I'm in a position right now where I could take a vacation and not have to worry about what's going on with my clients. If they need to get a hold of me, they can. I really couldn't do that before. I can manage anything having to do with client communications, billing payments, anything—from anywhere.
What would you say to attorneys looking to generate steady monthly income?
You can work on payment plans and can help people who are not financially well off. They can get the services they need. If lawyers are willing to take those payment plans and work with a system like MyCase, they can build a great, sustainable practice. I know I have.