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The digitalization of Cole, Scott & Kissane is a personal matter
“Successful litigators and transactional lawyers know there is no substitute for thorough research, preparation, and management of information.” This introduction to the firm of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. (CSK) could be referring to their digital journey. Jason Thomas, CSK’s Chief Information Officer, would certainly agree. As the firm’s first CIO, Thomas is carrying on the firm’s tradition of bringing the best people and the best-fit technology together to perform at peak.
“Technology leaders must understand that a digital transformation is not about the technology,” Thomas told BOSS. “It’s about what makes the business work. How does the business run? How do you make money?” He posited that IT leaders must have a deep understanding of an organization’s inner workings and the needs of its people to make formative decisions about any significant technology initiatives.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, the firm that started with nine lawyers and two offices has evolved into the largest civil defense law firm of its kind in Florida, with 13 offices and 1,300 staff, and approximately 500 lawyers. CSK supports both defendants and plaintiffs in criminal and civil cases.
The expansive practice scope covers at least 75 specific areas, from employment and labor to general counsel. In total across all practice areas, CSK closed 6,095 files in the last 12 months. The average life cycle of those cases took just 100 days.
One particularly robust specialty is insurance defense; some of the biggest insurers in the nation trust CSK to handle the complexities of their industry, including GEICO and Travelers. Thomas estimated that CSK’s insurance defense practice opens between 100 and 150 cases a day.
Insurance is one area that demonstrates both the need for automation as well as the human touch. Claims handling is a significant part of insurance defense, well known for being paper heavy and having an oversized reliance on manual work. That combination is ideal for automation; claims that require human interaction can be handled manually, but the majority can be handled with robotic process automation technology.
“There are things we can automate to make the customer experience better, and that’s the big win. … In my view, let’s replace the boring stuff with automation and let's use those creative minds for other things,” he quipped.
Thomas joined CSK in 2015 to lead CSK’s technology transformation. The firm’s CEO and founder, Richard Cole, was well acquainted with him prior to inviting him to fill the inaugural CIO role. “He knew there were a lot of manual processes that could be improved with automation or other technology,” he noted. “Technology is the key driver for efficiency in any law firm. We’ve known each other for a long time, and he brought me in to head up the initiative.”
Relationships Over All
Getting one’s arms around the depth of complexity that IT leaders face in working for large enterprises is a challenge of its own. Thomas pointed out that knowing how a company’s business operations run is essential, and it shouldn’t be done on the fly. “That requires a lot of learning, a lot of conversations with different departments and between operations and finance, as well as learning what makes the most sense for users.
“If you try to force something on people that doesn't make sense for the way they work, it’s not going to be successful,” he stressed.
Part of his learning journey was how to interpret the best-fit technology needs of a well-established firm. He went straight to the brass tacks. “They knew how to make money, so how could I make it better?”
CSK has been technology-centric since its inception. Supportive executive leadership and healthy IT and cybersecurity budgets have helped to smooth the change management aspect of the project. “It is simply not a nice-to-have or need,” he said. “It’s a requirement.”
In Thomas’s playbook, developing good relationships with people at all levels and functions of the business is a power move that should be made early in the process of any digitization journey. “That’s the No. 1 thing. Ask what is and isn’t working well, and on the basis of these conversations we can build solutions that meet those challenges.”
Successful digital transformations require a great deal of trust throughout the organization. When it comes to trust building, Thomas recommends starting tech journeys with small projects that get quick results to demonstrate positive changes that make working life easier. When trust is established, people realize that IT departments exist not to make things worse, but to make them much, much better.
Relationship development is also essential with vendors, suppliers, and other third parties that begins with establishing what works on both sides of the table. “We ask, ‘What's kind of the best of both worlds for everybody? What's going to achieve compliance and security requirements? Let's figure out a way to make that happen together,’” Thomas said. “You can't be hands-off and think things are going to magically happen.”
When it’s time to find the tech that will make things happen, Thomas’s practicality is refreshing. Finding the best solutions to meet objectives may not mean adopting the newest software available, or hosting everything in the cloud. “When it comes to solutions, out of the box thinking is realizing that not every problem needs a new technology solution. Maybe the technology is already there, and we can just leverage what’s already in place to achieve those goals.”
Of course, CSK is very cloud-friendly, but as Thomas put it, the cloud is for everybody but not everything. “Let's do what makes the most sense for everybody from a cost perspective, from accessibility, and from a security perspective. Not everything is going to be solved by putting everything in the cloud,” he said.
“As a technologist, you know I'm all about new technology. What's out there? What's new? What's hot, what's fun? What's everybody doing? We don't have to go that route … that’s what thinking outside the box means to me.”
As a full-service law firm, Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. is able to provide our clients with experienced counsel and services in numerous areas of the law.
In order to better serve our clients, we have made a major commitment to utilize the best available technology in our practice of law. We believe this will enable us to deliver more organized and efficient service.
Successful litigators know there is no substitute for thorough research, preparation, and management of information.
Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. is proud to offer our clients the benefit of joining ever-changing technology with hard work, the willingness to go the extra mile, the teamwork of attorneys working for the benefit of our clients, and the integrity and the tenacity that is found in effective attorneys.
It is our goal and firm commitment to continue to serve our clients as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Each client is important to us, and we value each client relationship. While we have a full complement of attorneys, paralegals, and office staff, not every case requires an army. At the commencement of each matter, we discuss with the client who will be the appropriate lawyer or lawyers to handle the case.
This analysis is done based on complexity of the matter in conjunction with the individual talents and expertise of our lawyers. Every case and every project is administered to be cost-effective, without sacrificing quality.
We do not lose sight of the maxim that the firm’s success is tied directly to the success of our clients. To that end, we work toward establishing strong relationships with clients and maintaining those relationships with trust, hard work, and efficient and cost-effective service.
Locations: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale East and West, Orlando, Naples, Bonita Springs, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville North and South, Tallahassee, Key West and Pensacola.
Cole, Scott & Kissane Building
9150 South Dadeland Boulevard
Miami, Florida 33156
Phone Number: 305-350-5300
Fax Number: 305-373-2294
Homepage Link: http://csklegal.com