SmartAdvocate

SmartAdvocate Review

Quick review: SmartAdvocate, the most powerful personal injury software available constantly gets more powerful, yet it’s most powerful feature is that it’s simple and quick to learn how to use by the technology-challenged user, new users, and users coming from other software. My partner who is computer challenged instantly took to it and is still amazed at how easy it is to use.

It’s tough to provide a detailed review of SmartAdvocate and even tougher for competitors to compete with them because with three releases per year SmartAdvocate has a long streak of releasing over 1,000 enhancements every year, mostly based on clients’ suggestions.

There are so many favorite features but my most favored is the unmatched template document system which lets me easily find and insert merge codes into a template document and save the template document in 10 seconds. It even works with PDF forms. The template document system allows us to run a busy personal injury practice with just two lawyers without any secretaries or paralegals. For larger firms with secretaries and paralegals, using the SmartAdvocate template document system will allow your employees to multiply their caseload many times. Because it’s so quick and easy to create template documents, this one feature can be used by every law firm to cut overhead and increase revenue with larger caseloads.

In short: SmartAdvocate moves cases faster with less work, does everything, tracks everything and is easy to use even by the technology challenged.

 

Categories of features important for managing a personal injury practice:

  • Support/Customer service
  • Security
  • Calendaring
  • Critical deadline tracking
  • Document management
  • Document merge from templates
  • Document generating from templates
  • Medical records tracking
  • Damages tracking
  • Time tracking
  • Outlook calendar sync
  • Outlook email integration
  • Texting integration
  • Contacts management
  • Automated intake
  • Settlement Calculator
  • Advertising tracking
  • Platform: Cloud-based, PC-based or Mac-based
  • A mobile app that actually does something
  • Company’s ability to update the software quickly, frequently and seamlessly

The SmartAdvocate App

SmartAdvocate App allows you to view:

  • Office calendar
  • All contacts – View/Add contacts
  • Case contacts – View/Add contacts
  • Case calendar – View/Add appointments
  • Case summary
  • Case notes – View/Add notes
  • Case documents list including the ability to view and add new documents
  • Case Timeline
  • Case Time tracking and add time tracking
  • Case disbursements
  • Send emails from a case
  • Send text messages from a case

I wanted to add two other categories: customer service and one which no one ever thinks about which is the software engineers behind the software and the company’s ability to update the software quickly, frequently and seamlessly.

SmartAdvocate excels in all of these categories but also has the best customer service and software engineers I have seen. Just one example: I emailed a suggestion to SmartAdvocate (12/16/2015) at 10:59 AM and received an email from them at 4:52 PM advising that my suggestion had been implemented. Not only was my suggestion incorporated into the software but I didn’t have to wait for a version update. It was already working on my system. I really shouldn’t be surprised because this wasn’t the first time I submitted a suggestion and they have been implemented within a day to a couple of weeks.

I haven’t seen any other cloud-based system that has the capability I need for my personal injury practice. I tried one software program specifically made for personal injury lawyers available on a server or in the cloud but it did not have the capabilities I was looking for and I canceled my contract after three days.

We used SmartAdvocate® installed on our server but in October 2019 we moved to the SmartAdvocate cloud which is cheaper and easier than using our server.

SmartAdvocate is intuitively designed and extremely easy to use but is extremely robust and has every feature a lawyer could want for a personal injury practice.

I can enter all medical offices in the database but I can also enter a tremendous amount of information about the doctor; visits to the office; and requests for records, bills, images, etc. We use an outside service to request our medical records but occasionally request a medical record directly. SmartAdvocate lets me know who requested the medical record. It also tracks dates including date requested and follow-up dates. When I upload a medical record, it will often change the medical request for that record to “Received”. If it is unable to change the status, it will send me an email notifying me that there was a conflict, so I have to do it manually. SmartAdvocate also tracks amounts for medical invoices. Liens are tracked in a separate section for liens.

Expenses are tracked in a Disbursements section and like everything else in SmartAdvocate, the disbursements section is a very powerful tool. You can assign a disbursement to a particular plaintiff, share it among plaintiffs or waive it. It can be marked as recoverable or not recoverable. The expenses are also tracked in the retainer section which automatically computes your legal fee depending upon various factors selected.

Most powerful and most important to me is generating completed documents from a template. I have almost 2,000 templates. This allows my partner and I to run a law practice without any other employees. I can generate any form, letter or a legal document with the click of a button. To accomplish this, I need an almost unlimited number of merge codes. The ease and time of saving a template document is vital. The first problem I had with the cloud-based software was the limited number of merge codes. I tried to create template documents but the merge codes I needed did not exist. I would have to copy and paste to complete the document. This takes more time and would necessitate hiring a paralegal. The only other software I have seen which can create the template documents I want is complicated and time-consuming to save a template document. That software was also considered by my partner to be difficult to use.

SmartAdvocate has many other important features such as sending emails with attached documents directly from SmartAdvocate and the ability to easily upload any email which was sent or received in Outlook. I routinely upload voicemails emailed to me.

You should think about what you need to do from the moment you receive a call from a potential client to the moment you are sending out a settlement check. Jot down the things you do such as entering initial information; sending out initial documents such as claim letters and a no-fault application or other forms; calendaring for tracking court appearances and other appointments; compiling litigation documents; and anything else you want to do automatically.

SmartAdvocate moves very fast with updates and improvements and is extremely open to suggestions. Their customer service is outstanding. I don’t think you will find software that is as robust. Additionally, it’s extremely easy to learn how to use even for the computer challenged, like my partner.

SmartAdvocate review wins seal of approval logo SmartAdvocate® – After a year of looking at software and having used SAGA DOS, Trialworks and then SAGA Windows, I decided to purchase SmartAdvocate®. I became a beta user in April 2013 before it was being sold to law firms and paid the beta user price of 1/2.

SmartAdvocate is intuitively designed which makes it extremely easy to use but is extremely robust and has every feature a lawyer could want for a personal injury practice.  It does far more than any of the other software I looked at and is much easier to use. SmartAdvocate® is the personal injury case management software created by Jerrold Parker for his own national personal injury and mass tort law firm, Parker|Waichman LLP, with 120 employees in their 28,000 square ft law office.

SmartAdvocate® is designed specifically for personal injury and mass tort law firms. If you need multi-practice software, this is not for your law firm. You won’t believe SmartAdvocate’s capabilities! It was created to be more powerful and easier to use than SAGA. I thought SAGA DOS was the best personal injury case management software in the 90’s. SAGA Windows was powerful but complicated to use. Jerry Parker says they spent $10M over 10 years developing SmartAdvocate®. I know they spared no expense because Jerry asked me to sit in on a development meeting a few years ago when Jerry was looking to spend $100,000 on a database relational module for the software.

What makes SmartAdvocate® so powerful is 7 software developers who work on SmartAdvocate® (SAGA used to have only one software developer); they work inside of a large personal injury law firm so they knew what was wanted and they get immediate feedback; and the software was built in modules so improvements or new features don’t require rebuilding the whole program.

Now, other lawyers can use the exact same personal injury case management software. SmartAdvocate® is a very sophisticated, full function personal injury case management software that meets all of my criteria and more. Jerry Parker is like me. I want the software to do all the work; I just want to click a few buttons, and I want it to be easy to use. SmartAdvocate® does that. There are a lot of features that make work easy like pop-ups which let you see the contact information when you hover a mouse cursor over a name. It has time-saving features such as when entering a zip code, the town and state is automatically populated in the appropriate fields.

It not only does everything you could need but it’s laid out well and provides more information in the dashboard which is extremely useful to help identify what’s going on at a glance. For instance, in the defendant screen, you can see the SOL date; Date Complied; Date sent to Process Server; Date of filing S&C; Last date to serve S&C; Date of Service; Last day to file S&C; Date Affidavit was filed; Date Answer was due; and Date Answer was received.

It’s even pretty to look at. While not the most important attribute, the right colors really do make a difference.

SmartAdvocate® is more than willing to implement good suggestions and has a suggestion button in the dashboard to email your suggestions from within SmartAdvocate®. Parker|Waichman advertises 1-888-BIG-CASE so tracking cases from advertising is important to them. While I was looking at the demo, I saw a great feature to help track where cases are coming from for lawyers who advertise. I advertise 1-800-HURT-911 so I immediately saw the benefit of that feature but I made a suggestion to improve it. Jerry immediately called his lead programmer to add it. Now that it’s been installed, I emailed another suggestion at 5:32 pm and it was implemented at 10:am the next morning!

But the most important part I wanted to see is the process to create a template document. I will be the Admin and the attorney creating template documents. The difference between a simple process and a complicated process for me is just a matter of the amount of time it takes to create a template document. For most lawyers, a process involving 26 separate steps can be a nightmare. While I can get used to 26 steps, I don’t want to spend an extra 15 minutes per template document which is costly. I currently have 1,782 template documents and continuously create new template documents. SmartAdvocate® doesn’t involve any extra steps other than… well, clicking on File > Save in Word and choosing the template category and subcategory from a drop down window. It couldn’t be made any simpler or quicker.

SmartAdvocate® has an endless list of merge codes (if you find a need for one they don’t have, they will add it for you) and you can easily insert any merge code in seconds. Everything in SmartAdvocate® is intuitive including the merge codes and they’re easy to find and insert. SmartAdvocate® merge codes look very similar to the intuitive SAGA merge codes but there are a lot more. The merge codes are so intuitive that I can often correctly guess a merge code I didn’t remember. For instance in SAGA, <<PL-FIRST-NAME>> was used for the plaintiff’s first name; <<PL-LAST-NAME>> was used for the plaintiff’s last name; and <<PL-NAME>> was used for the plaintiff’s entire name. In SmartAdvocate®, many of the most frequently used merge codes can be easily and quickly inserted by clicking a button at the top of Word. Any of the other merge codes are easily found by opening the merge code screen; searching by scrolling down alphabetically or sorting by category; selecting the merge code and clicking the insert button.

Security: Social Security numbers are encrypted in the database.  You have the ability to control users’ access to social security numbers (Allow access to SSN, Last 4 + Allow entry, Allow access
to SSN (Last 4), No SSN access).

Features & Reports: From the new case intake wizard to integration with Outlook’s email and calendar, the number of features are endless and too many to mention! SmartAdvocate will work with Microsoft Exchange on your server; hosted Exchange; or Office 365. After much reading, including “Why Office 365 beats hosted Exchange for small business emailby Derrick Wlodarz, I switched my email to Office 365 which costs only $4/month per user. I called Derrick Wlodarz 312-445-0702 at Firelogic.net who helped me migrate my email-call him to get set up with Office 365.

There are reviews on the internet by lawyers complaining about the difficulty creating custom reports in other software but I seriously doubt there is a feature or report you want that SmartAdvocate® doesn’t already have and if you find one, they will add it probably within minutes!

This image below shows one of the advertising reports which creates a map showing the location of your cases so you can visualize where your cases or even calls are coming from (anywhere in the US & Canada). You can run a report to see all cases or filter by date range and/or type of case.
SmartAdvocate client map

Easy to use! Also important was the fact that my partner, who is not very computer literate, was immediately at ease with the look of the rest of the software. He was rather intimidated during demos of all the other software we looked at. While I thought that SmartAdvocate® and Prevail is easier to use than the other software we looked at, my partner thought only SmartAdvocate® looked easier to use and he liked the layout much better. He was so much at ease with SmartAdvocate® that he was begging me to go with SmartAdvocate®. While ease of use for the admin is important, it is also important for the users, since many attorneys (like my younger partner) are really computer illiterate even though they think they know how to use a computer. Now that SmartAdvocate® is installed, he keeps telling me how happy he is that we got it. I am too!

Customer support couldn’t be better! I have have had issues corrected and suggestions implemented within minutes of my call or email.

SmartAdvocate® works on your own server in either 64-bit or 32-bit and is also available as a hosted (cloud) version. It is web-based using your web browser, either Internet Explorer or Chrome. Since it is web-based, you don’t need software installed on workstations and you can access SmartAdvocate® from any computer. I have SmartAdvocate® installed on a 64-bit server with 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise and 64-bit 2012 SQL and access it with 64-bit workstations. This is a very powerful program and likes fast computers with extra memory. I originally used a 32 bit dual-core workstation with 2 GB of RAM and it was ok but I like instantaneous responses so I bought a couple of open box PowerSpec computers from Microcenter.com. One was an iCore3 processor with 4GB RAM and only $407 and the other was an iCore5 quad-core processor with 8GB RAM and RAID 1 costing $530, both are screaming fast. My server had 4GB of RAM so I bought another 16GB for $180 and now have 20GB of RAM. SmartAdvocate® is the Prozac of Personal Injury Software!! (because it will keep you from going insane). SmartAdvocate® is the best choice for either a one attorney firm or a 100 lawyer firm if you want software that is specifically for personal injury; software that’s easier to use; to get more work done with fewer employees; to get work done easier; and to get work done faster.

  • Highly customizable with show/hide columns buttons on many screens.
  • Calendar interfaces with Outlook and shows adjournment history
  • Easily file incoming or outgoing emails from Outlook to your case file.
  • Reports are easily generated and can be subscribed to so you receive reports automatically at the time schedule you select.
  • Highly

SmartAdvocate® has all the major features you need but also has many minor features that just make it nice to use.  One of the minor features lets you see your client’s information anywhere from within any of the SmartAdvocate screens. Anywhere you see your client’s name, you can click your mouse (1) on your client’s name which will open the Contact Info screen displaying your client’s address; primary phone; email; Social Security number; gender; date of birth; and exact age. Click on the map pin (2) and a screen opens (3) giving you a choice to see your client’s location on a Google map; get directions from your client’s location to your office; or get directions from your office to your client’s location. This can be used immediately after signing up a new client using the new case wizard.

SmartAdvocate directions screen

 

See our complete list of personal injury case management software