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Finding The Best Case Management System for Your Immigration Law Firm

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Fri Jun 24 2022 6 min read

When an immigration lawyer is thinking about setting up a law firm, a case management system is probably one of the first things that has to be put in place. But immigration law is very wide in scope, and not all firms have the same needs. Thus, how do you approach your search for a case management system?

There are two important considerations you should keep in mind when thinking about adopting a case management system for your practice: 

  • The size of your immigration law firm
  • The type of immigration law you will be focusing on: family-based, or employment / business-based immigration. 

Different law firms need different features. For example, solo or small firms may need flexible billing for individual clients while larger firms may need more sophisticated reporting and dashboards to support their corporate clients.

This article aims to give you some ideas on what to look for in a case management platform based on the size of the law firm, and we’ll split our discussion between family-based and employment-based as well.  

Choosing a case management system based on your firm’s size

When we’re thinking about the size of law firms, let’s think about solo and small, mid-size and large law firms. At the same time, it’s important to consider options for both family-based and employment-based or business immigration clients. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully this will be helpful as you explore getting your first, or switching, case management platforms and deciding what’s best for you and your firm. 

Solo and small immigration law firms.

Smaller firms tend to work with both fewer clients and smaller clients. A small firm may also be actively involved in the client acquisition process, and its stream of clients may depend on word-of-mouth referrals and more active outreach. At a high level, this means you need your case management platform to have options that are ideal for individual applicants and companies that likely have low volumes and thus low sophistication around immigration. This might look like: 

  • Easy-to-use questionnaires for foreign nationals to fill out with their personal information to fill out the necessary immigration forms, particularly in multiple languages, particularly for family members who may not have English language skills. 
  • Flexible billing options so that clients have the ability to pay in installments, defer payments, etc. 
  • Tasks and checklists, especially to help solo lawyers stay on track with cases who are managing and otherwise wearing multiple hats and who may not have established processes already in place.

Most importantly, it’s very likely that in a firm of your size, you are doing most of the work yourself, legal and otherwise. That means that an ideal case management system should help you with multiple types of tasks, whether they are financial, administrative, or managerial, for example, and allow you to complete all that work in one place.

If you’re not the only lawyer or staff member at your firm, and have a more steady stream of cases because you’ve become better known or have some larger-size clients, in case you practice employment-based immigration, your needs and the needs of your staff are going to be different. Let’s look at what would an ideal case management system include for a mid-size law firm: 

Mid-size immigration law firms

At this point in time, your law firm may have a handful of attorneys and other staff members, and either a steady stream of family-based clients or maybe a few sizable employment-based or business clients (or at least a large enough number of small clients). That means you will likely have higher communication volume and handle more personal information for more clients. So, for a mid-size firm, it’s important to look at how a case management system fares in communication and security to decide if it’s a good fit.

Here are a few things to consider for this size firm in addition to the ones noted above: 

  • Look for a system that includes email and document templates for specific types of cases, since now you’re likely handling cases at some considerable volume and potentially are starting to see repeat cases and clients. Having templates will help you be more efficient and save you time.
  • Team communication capabilities, so that you can talk to your various team members via the platform and keep all your work-related discussion in one place. This is especially important if more than one staff member is working on a case, and if you have staff helping with administrative tasks like accounting or receiving physical mail.
  • Automation, to help you more efficiently organize and handle tasks, kick off processes and otherwise focus on less repetitive tasks. 
  • Strong security features, since you will now potentially have employees signing on in various places, and as employees come and go, you need to make sure no former employees have access to your firm’s cases. Strong security is always important when you’re handling client’s personal information, but when you add the possibility of staff turnover or people who have access to your case management system on a temporary basis as contractors, security becomes even more important. 
  • Basic reporting features are important, especially for your business clients who may want to get some immigration-related data and insights from you. Reporting features can also help you gain insight on whether a specific initiative, say, in marketing your firm, is giving you the results you intended. 

When firms get larger with more consistent caseloads, and may have either a large staff, or multiple branches, a case management system takes on a different level of importance. With that in mind, your choice of a case management system should be informed by the needs of a potentially more demanding client base. 

Large immigration law firms

Finally, in this instance, you will likely have a large staff and either a huge, consistent stream of family-based cases or large corporate clients that provide you with steady, volume-based immigration work. Here is what to consider for firms this size: 

  • A sophisticated client portal so that your corporate clients can log in and see or even manage some of their own immigration data. A client portal will allow, for example, a Human Resources department to provide updates to international recruits or out-of-country staff in immigration processes, and give them more direct access to you if they have questions or concerns, as well as a way to update information or for example, upload forms when a new status filing or renewal comes up. 
  • Sophisticated reporting functionality for clients that need to review immigration data for hiring purposes, to assess current staffing, to consider global mobility needs, for financial considerations and more. 
  • A way to manage prospective clients - basically a sales or marketing feature, or CRM - to track the business side of the firm. An ideal case management system should help you keep track of, and follow up on leads, in a way that helps you keep track of both existing and prospective clients in the same platform, or at least allow for integrations with such tools.
  • The availability of integrations, to be able to plug your immigration case management platform into other tools your firm may be using, or may want to use, to build as sophisticated of a tech infrastructure as possible in order to maximize automation, customer support, business development, security and more, while seamlessly passing information between these tools and avoiding double data-entry, human error, etc. 

Ultimately, different immigration law firms have different requirements, and finding a case management platform that truly suits every type of immigration law firm isn’t easy. But at Docketwise, that’s what we’re aiming for, because why not aim high, right?

For case management uniquely tailored to immigration law, try Docketwise

At Docketwise, we strive to build an immigration case management, forms management and CRM platform that suits law firms of all shapes and sizes. We pride ourselves on our entrepreneurial spirit, our focus on building features for all types of clients, and our industry-first open API that allows our users to connect Docketwise to a number of other platforms, to streamline your work with easy access for you, your staff, and your clients as needed. 

If you’re new to Docketwise, and would like to try and see if it’s a good fit for your firm, schedule a demo on our website today.

If you’re an existing Docketwise client, thank you for preferring us for your immigration case management needs!

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