[Updated October 31, 2011, to reflect revised pricing.]
Fellow blogger Rush Nigut (www.rushonbusiness.com) recently started a company called NotifyWorks to help lawyers improve their client relationships. (A transactional lawyer turning entrepreneurial—what a concept!) I knew that Rush had in mind that NotifyWorks would be relevant to the contract process, so I asked him a few questions. Here’s our exchange:
Ken: What is NotifyWorks?
Rush: NotifyWorks is a system that automates the notifications lawyers should be sending to their clients.
Ken: Isn’t this just a tickler system like what many practice-management systems have?
Rush: A tickler system or Microsoft Outlook can tell you to notify a client of an important event if you correctly set up an appropriate task or other reminder and then respond to the reminder when it appears. In my experience, many lawyers don’t have the time or patience to maintain such a system. So instead, NotifyWorks automatically delivers your notifications to your clients, even if you are tied up with other matters. For me, this is a crucial distinction. There’s always a fire to put out, a trial or major project that needs my attention.
Ken: How can NotifyWorks help with the contract process?
Rush: It seems that many clients place their signed contracts into a file cabinet and don’t keep track of deadlines for performing an obligation, exercising an option, or any number of other matters. And you can’t expect lawyers with busy transactional practices to remember, unaided, key contract deadlines. NotifyWorks provides an alternative. When a lawyer closes a deal, the lawyer (or their administrative assistant) can make a note of all contract deadlines and enter them as notifications to be sent by NotifyWorks at the appropriate time. We have built a library of common notifications, and we’ve designed the interface to make compiling the notifications as simple and quick as possible. It takes me less than five minutes to process the average business contract.
We also have reporting that shows all the notifications created. Our reports are searchable by date or by client. I check my reports every Monday to see what notifications are set for the coming week. It’s really aided me to stay on top of client matters.
Ken: Do you see any concerns regarding liability and malpractice?
Rush: We believe that NotifyWorks reduces a lawyer’s risk of being hit with a malpractice claim. And a legal-malpractice insurance agent I consulted agrees with me. You can set up your own system and hope that nothing slips through the cracks, or you can leave it to NotifyWorks.
Ken: What about confidentiality?
Rush: The only information that NotifyWorks stores is the generic notifications that a lawyer selects to send to a specified client. If such basic deal information is sensitive, you should think carefully about whether you want to put it on NotifyWorks. Here’s our rule of thumb: If information is too confidential to put in an email, it’s too confidential to put on NotifyWorks. But most deal information doesn’t fall into that category.
Ken: What benefits do you see for any lawyer who implements NotifyWorks?
Rush: Well, I’m the first user, and in a short time I’ve already received several notes from clients thanking me for having sent them reminders. And one of those notes included a referral to a potential new client. Additionally, I recently went through the process of changing firms. This is not an easy process, even when everyone is cooperative. With NotifyWorks, if you change firms, you simply change your email address and signature block once—all future messages will have your new contact information. You can then continue to communicate with your clients using NotifyWorks, assuming that you retained those clients after changing firms.
Ken: So do these notifications come from me? What happens when a client responds?
Rush: When you first set up your clients, they’ll receive a message from NotifyWorks on your behalf asking them to confirm their address in the NotifyWorks system. You’ll be notified once they have (or have not) confirmed their email address. Then they will see emails sent on your behalf with your email address in the ‘From’ line. When the client replies, the reply goes directly to you. The NotifyWorks system doesn’t receive reply emails.
Ken: Who owns the data entered into the system?
Rush: The lawyer owns their information. If a lawyer discontinues the service for any reason, we delete their information from our system after providing them with a copy.
Ken: If a lawyer who uses NotifyWorks leaves a law firm, will there be any fights about whether the lawyer gets to take NotifyWorks with them?
Rush: Every firm is different. When I’ve changed firms, this has never been an issue. If a lawyer wishes to transfer notifications to a law firm, we simply change the account information to reflect the new owner. Or if a client stays with a firm rather than leaving with a lawyer, the lawyer can delete that client’s information from the system.
Ken: Who do you see as your target customers?
Rush: We see our target market as those lawyers who focus on their client relationships. In certain specialties our notifications can be especially helpful. Some of our early users include lawyers specializing in merger and acquisitions, tax, and corporate law, and even a general practitioner who sees it just as a great way to stay in touch with clients.
Ken: How much does the system cost?
Rush: $29 per month, and $299 for an annual subscription. Anyone contemplating multiple users should contact us for special pricing.
Ken: Where can my readers find more information?
Ken: Rush, thanks very much.