Client Stories | Michael Cohan
“I’m running a law firm like a tech company, like a 21st-century company.”
“We’re totally paperless. And that’s how it should be because that’s where the rest of businesses is going,” says Mike Cohan
When Mike Cohan founded his Personal Injury law firm in 2016, he was 29 years old, saving up to get engaged to his girlfriend and working on his own out of a Starbucks on Manhattan’s East Side. Seven years later, Mike was voted by his peers as a “Superlawyer” every year since 2016, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 Under 40, and Cohan Law PLLC has staff and offices on Park Avenue and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. One thing hasn’t changed, however: his use of CloudLex personal injury case management software and Lexvia litigation support services. “There’s no way that I am where I am today without CloudLex and Lexvia,” Mike says. “There’s no chance.”
“Paying Rent with Coffee”
After graduating from St. John’s University School of Law, Mike began his career at a firm where he found himself litigating primarily asbestos cases. To avoid being pigeonholed, he asked the firm’s partners if he could take on car accident cases and other personal injury matters. Five years after joining the firm, having handled everything from depositions to trials to high-level mediations, he decided it was time to set out on his own.
“Maybe two weeks after I went out on my own, my father has a heart attack and has to undergo a triple bypass,” Mike recalls. “And I’m running back and forth from Long Island to tend to my family, who’s going through a lot. But I kept moving forward. I find the Starbucks that’s a block away from my Manhattan apartment. I go there every day. I buy two iced coffees a day to pay my rent to sit there, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I make friends with the manager there, the staff, they all know me. I go on my laptop.”
It wasn’t the most propitious way to “hang a shingle,” but Mike made it work, and not just for the short term. “I was almost forced to start making everything digital,” he says. “I didn’t want to put paperwork in my tiny apartment. So right off the bat, I’m figuring out how I could leverage and scale by using technology.”
Within a few months, Mike hired a paralegal: “He started coming with me to Starbucks.” Nonetheless, Mike remained committed to being paperless, which was much more unusual in 2017 than it is in today’s post-COVID world. “Back then, a lot of the small-firm guys, they have a little office. They’ve got their file cabinet. There’s a secretary at the front. We have none of that. We’re with our laptop paying rent with coffee.”
Thanks to cloud technology, prospective clients were unaware that Mike was working out of a coffee shop. His business grew, to the point that he needed more support than a sole paralegal and a table at Starbucks could provide. Remembering that the firm he’d worked at had used Lexvia, which provides litigation processing, document indexing and other services for personal injury attorneys, Mike met with a rep and became a client himself.
“They started drafting discovery, lawsuits, rep letters — just very basic paralegal stuff,” Mike says. And as his practice continued to expand, “it became more and more evident that I needed a platform that was seamless with Lexvia, that I could communicate with them, that I could assign them work, instead of just going back and forth via email.” Upon learning that case management software CloudLex was fully integrated with Lexvia, Mike signed on. Lexvia transferred all Mike’s files into CloudLex, “and we’re off and running.”
There’s no way that I am where I am today without CloudLex and Lexvia, There’s no chance.”
Fueling Growth Through the Pandemic and Beyond
CloudLex’s integration with Lexvia was what sold Mike on the software, but the system’s myriad of features is why he continues to use it. “First of all, it’s web-based, which is great because application-based software is slow and sludgy,” says Mike, who prefers the security of a cloud-based web program to that of a local server or desktop install. “And it’s very user-friendly. It’s very, very easy to look at. Things are in the logical place that they should be. The app makes sense. The software is well designed.”
Mike says that, particularly for smaller Personal Injury law firms, capturing and managing content are significant challenges — which CloudLex has enabled his practice to more than meet: “Through CloudLex, the workflows are very helpful. The task management system is very helpful in content capture.”
CloudLex’s Intake Manager streamlines the intake process and facilitates the collection of vital information. From there, the Matter Manager helps ensure that the firm retains all vital content — and only vital content. “We put our prospective leads into the Intake Manager now,” Mike explains. “They get addressed there on a daily basis. If they’re not going anywhere, we leave it there or we mark it rejected. Once a retainer is signed and the client is serious about moving forward, then we migrate it over to the Matter Manager, where applied workflows help move the case forward and maximize value for the client.” Keeping the Matter Manager clean of extraneous data makes finding relevant content there much more efficient.
“The reports are a total cheat code,” Mike continues. “You can cut the firm’s and client’s data any which way you want: by paralegal, by stage of the case, by case. You can run custom reports without emailing someone or without having extensive knowledge of technology.”
You can cut the firm’s and client’s data any which way you want: by paralegal, by stage of the case, by case. You can run custom reports without emailing someone or without having extensive knowledge of technology.
Mike views CloudLex and Lexvia as key tools for enabling smaller firms to compete effectively with larger competitors. “We could take on more work, we could take on more clients, we could take on more cases. If the work ever became overwhelming, we could figure out how the software could generate templates, Lexvia could assist with the work,” Mike says. “You don’t need to hire 50 million paralegals. You don’t need this huge office to hold all your folder files. Fancy offices and extra staff feeds ego for PI Lawyers. We care only about servicing our clients and creating a modern and efficient work environment.”
By 2019, Mike and his team were so adept at using CloudLex to manage every aspect of the practice, with Lexvia as backup, that he began allowing his paralegals to work one day a week from home. So, when COVID-19 shut down much of the world in March 2020, his firm didn’t have to make any major adjustments to how they worked.
“Everyone went and worked from home,” he says. “They logged into CloudLex on a daily basis. We were still able to communicate seamlessly. Obviously, we threw in some extra phone calls and Teams meetings with each other, but the software allowed us first to scale, then to survive the pandemic. And now we’re using it as a foundation for rapid growth.”
Cohan Law Firm has grown to roughly 400 active cases and has managed over 1,500 in seven years and is primed to continue expanding. Automating functions and improving efficiencies via CloudLex and relying on Lexvia when needed are critical to Mike’s plans for future growth.
“I’m running a law firm like a tech company, like a 21st-century company,” Mike says. “We’re totally paperless. And that’s how it should be because that’s where the rest of the businesses are going. That’s the trajectory of business. And if you don’t have these tools and if you don’t use them to your advantage, then you’re really falling behind. If you haven’t fallen behind yet, then it’s going to catch you at some point.”
As for that ring he was saving up for during the early days, sipping iced coffee to pay rent… “She said yes! We got married the following June in 2017. Two kids, a house, fence, a yard… happily ever after.”
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