Founded in 1946, Sirote & Permutt is a 120 lawyer firm providing a broad array of corporate, tax, mediation and litigation, real estate and private client services to successful business, families and individuals from six offices located in Alabama and Florida. But there’s more to Sirote & Permutt than just contracts and negotiations.
Since the 1980s, the firm has applied innovative technology to the practice of law, showing how well-equipped attorneys can provide wise counsel for clients in a timely and efficient manner. This passion for developing new ways to serve its entrepreneurial clients was the catalyst for the firm’s 2016 professional development program – and the inspiration for an entirely new resource platform for the firm’s attorneys.
An app with appeal
Sirote & Permutt place a high value on innovation by having key case details on an iPad.
While preparing for the 2016 program, the firm’s leadership team realized that its own internal databases could provide significant information and perspective on the unique strengths that have contributed to the firm’s success over the past 70 years. The problem was accessing this information in a secure and efficient manner.
Having quick access to the data would allow attorneys to not only remember historical details of work performed for thousands of clients —without shuffling through reams of paper or electronic documents and spreadsheets—but also make smarter forward-looking decisions based on previous outcomes. The leadership team realized that the firm’s substantial past experiences constituted a powerful resource when deployed appropriately in the present as part of each client engagement.
The firm’s extensive third party research platforms contained a wealth of information that was not always easily accessible to its attorneys. Providing direct access to the information most relevant to clients and potential clients in an efficient manner also became a key objective for the firm’s attorneys. After all, the information was not very valuable unless it could be made available in a timely and efficient manner for the benefit of the firm’s clients.
The firm had been operating using Microsoft tools that couldn’t adequately or securely push out business intelligence to lawyers in the firm in an efficient manner. The incumbent tools also weren’t mobile-friendly to lawyers who often travel around the country to meet with clients and advocate on behalf of clients.
I have yet to see anything like the FileMaker Platform. Its elegance and simplicity for automating tasks and interacting with information efficiently and intelligently is unsurpassed.
W. Todd Carlisle, Managing Partner, Sirote & Permutt, P.C.
Searching for a solution, the firm’s Managing Partner W. Todd Carlisle attended an event at his local Apple Store where he watched a FileMaker Developer create an app for iPad using the FileMaker Platform in less than 10 minutes. The developer then pushed the app out to Carlisle’s iPhone right then, and Carlisle realized the immediate value of the FileMaker Platform.
"On the spot, we shook hands and I said 'sign our firm up for a FileMaker custom app,'" says Carlisle. "The FileMaker Platform was so easy, so quick, so secure and so intuitive that we realized immediately the value of the software for what we were trying to accomplish in terms of equipping each of our attorneys with the information they needed, on an intuitive mobile platform like iPad."
A head start, made brief by the Idea to iPad Bundle
Always hands-on when it comes to technology, the Sirote IT team started programming in the FileMaker Platform right away, and was impressed with its ease of use and power, but they wanted a faster start. They signed up for the Idea to iPad Bundle, a program that helped jumpstart the idea with help from an expert FileMaker developer.
The bundle includes 10 hours of consulting with a FileMaker developer; an annual license of FileMaker Pro Advanced to create custom apps; FileMaker Licensing for Teams with five user connections; and a Customer Success Manager assigned to specifically to Sirote. All these facets would help make the firm’s idea a reality, faster.
FileMaker paired Sirote with Scott Howard Consulting, an expert located just down the road. The Sirote IT team was pleasantly surprised with the level of service and expertise Howard provided, as well as his willingness to coach a member of the firm’s IT team on developing and iterating the app on an ongoing basis.
“It was powerful for us to have an extremely knowledgeable, external consultant who was willing to partner with a talented member of our internal team so that Sirote IT could take the reins after completion of our consulting engagement,” Carlisle says. “And, indeed, within 10 hours of consulting, we had a viable platform that would allow us to share sensitive firm data securely on mobile devices.”
The expedience in getting a working app up and running in such an efficient manner was a great experience for the firm. Seeing data in new ways using FileMaker’s graphing capabilities provided fresh insights for the firm’s attorneys. The development team also built links deep into third party platforms, providing direct access to key information of benefit to the firm’s clients, thus gaining increased value from its investment in the information platforms.
The FileMaker experience also opened the door for new development initiatives on a client and practice group level where longer and more expensive development cycles are impractical. Having the powerful and flexible FileMaker platform in its arsenal has provided the Sirote IT team with rapid app development capabilities for creating client and project-specific solutions. “FileMaker has been a breath of fresh air,” said Carlisle, “by allowing us to be much more innovative in how we think about adding value to our client relationships.”
As the business of law continues to undergo radical changes, law firms face intense competition. Entrepreneurial businesses and families also face the dual challenges of unpredictable market dynamics as well as enhanced regulator scrutiny across all segments of our economy. Prudent use of technology is a key driver for Sirote in addressing these challenges for the benefit of its clients.
An attorney might use insights from the app to quantify the firm’s expertise in a particular area, familiarity with opposing parties and counsel or experience in front of a specific judge. Or, they might find competitive intelligence about opposing counsel, all useful ingredients in providing better service to existing clients and presenting its capabilities to potential clients.
Case closed for the FileMaker Platform
Looking forward, the firm anticipates making use of FileMaker’s ability to easily integrate documents such as contracts into one app and tie in e-signatures to reduce costs and create efficiencies for clients who need an efficient mobile contracting solution. There’s also a “wow” factor involved: when attorneys meet with clients with an iPad that provides secure access to the key information involved in their project, they realize the value the firm places on innovation. It all adds up to greater efficiency, better service and prolonged client loyalty.
Says Carlisle, “I have yet to see anything like the FileMaker Platform. Its elegance and simplicity for automating tasks and interacting with information efficiently and intelligently is unsurpassed. Our clients expect us to be relentless in our advocacy on their behalf – and in our implementation of tools that make us more efficient in serving their needs.”