How Lawyaw and Clio Help this Law Firm Simplify their Court Forms Filing Process
Freeburg & Granieri APC
Number of Staff
Started Using Clio
Pasadena, CA, USA
Christy Granieri, Founding Partner, Freeburg & Granieri APC
Christy Granieri co-founded her firm with Gregory Freeburg in February of 2021. Practicing mainly in litigation, personal injury, and employment law, a large part of their work required California’s Judicial Council forms.
From the beginning, the partners decided they were not going to hire support staff, which made it essential that they use technology to ensure their firm ran efficiently. One of the biggest areas of need was a resource to find and fill Judicial Council forms quickly and easily. Someone suggested she look at Lawyaw, and two minutes into the demo, she decided to sign up. It did what she wanted it to, and that would have been enough. But, Lawyaw solved several other pain points as well.
Read the case study summary below, or scroll down to the Q&A section.
Errors, rejections (and headaches)
Even though California’s standard court forms are free and available online, they’re not particularly user-friendly. Finding the right form can be time-consuming, and keeping the latest versions of PDFs organized can be a hassle (especially when working remotely).
Christy had to stay on top of co-workers to adhere to the proper procedures to keep rogue files out of their organizational system. With writable PDFs, Christy sometimes had trouble distinguishing between a form she had already filed and a form she needed to work on. It took hours to fill out a form, assuming she could find the correct one. Occasionally, the form would not get saved on the computer properly and those hours of work would be lost, forcing her to start over from the beginning. Entering information on forms by hand also left room for errors.
To further add to Christy’s woes, courts are very quick to stamp a form as rejected if it contains errors (or is the wrong form altogether). Each court uses a different electronic filing system. Finding the right local form in California can be a headache because of the state’s size and also because each jurisdiction is different.
If a file is rejected, the reason for rejection is not usually given. So, Christy would need to do the work again. But the second time around, she can’t bill a client for hours spent correcting a mistake that should have been caught the first time. A court rejection stamp on a document just meant extra time that couldn’t be billed. Lawyaw was designed to help solve these challenges—and make the process of filling court forms easier and more streamlined for lawyers.
Problem solved, and then some
Lawyaw helped Christy get rid of the issues caused by the manual process of managing and filing court forms—and it saved her the countless hours she spent on the task. In lieu of asking a secretary to get X, Y, Z, she now has everything right where she needs it.
“Lawyaw saves me from having to hire staff,” Christy explains. “On a weekly basis I’m probably saving 4-5 hours of attorney time so we’re not searching around trying to find the right form. It saves us 16-20 hours a month.”
Lawyaw made the Judicial Council forms easy to find, access, and fill—all in one place. The cloud-based tool eliminated the need for her to nag co-workers about file organization because sets of forms for specific types of projects could be saved and re-used. And less errors meant fewer files getting rejected by the court. In that sense, Lawyaw helps Christy and her team maximize their billable hours.
What’s more, because Lawyaw is now a part of Clio, her life is even easier. Christy’s firm runs on Clio, so every integration in her tech stack is a bonus. Both Clio and Lawyaw were part of her firm from the beginning, so they’ve been able to move forward seamlessly.
“I use Clio and Lawyaw together all day every day,” Christy says. “Every time I have a new matter, we hop into Lawyaw, add a new client, then import contact into Clio. I use them in tandem.”
Christy’s quest to find a solution for Judicial Council forms led her to discover technology that makes her firm more efficient and accurate. She would have been happy with Lawyaw if it had helped her get one filing a month out faster. Instead, it gave her that, and so much more.
What problem were you trying to solve with Lawyaw?
“We started our firm in February of 2021, so I had come from a practice with all sorts of support staff and secretaries. My partner was also used to working with support staff and secretaries. When we started our firm, we made it really clear from the beginning that support staff and secretaries were not going to be part of how we were setting up our practice.
I had previously run into many problems with support staff and did not want to repeat that scenario in my firm. There was also the question of paying a lot of money to hire a full-time support staff member when I needed their help with only a few tasks. So I was looking for cost-effective technology that could fill that gap. That’s when I started sniffing around and trying to see if there was some way I could find one spot where all these Judicial Council forms were together, that I can easily access.”
What was your biggest pain point?
“Judicial Council forms are an integral part of my day-to-day practice—from discovery to filings to service to everything. In California courts, these Judicial Councils are mandatory. You have to use them. And for litigation, they’re just part of the game. While Judicial Council forms are free and available online, they’re not that usable.
You can go to the Judicial Council website, and pray to God you have the right form—you might not have. You then have to download it. Some are writable PDFs, some are not. Then you have to bring it into Adobe and type in the case number, the case caption, etc. every single time. You get to the end of this thing and nine times out of ten, I’ve had problems where it just doesn’t save. Then you’re back to square one and have to do it all over again.
For me that was a real waste of time. Another big problem that I ran into was that of writable PDFs in my files. It didn’t indicate whether or not I filed that one or if it was the right one. That led to confusion around what pleading I had actually filed with the court, as opposed to what Adobe-based PDF I had just been writing in.
I was looking for a solution to keep my writable PDFs outside of my file (as we were doing with all electronic filing systems). Previously, I was doing all that just within my server and through SharePoint, as well as accessing my document there. I had to be really attentive to make sure that only the documents I’ve actually filed are making it into my electronic pleading clip. I was looking for an option where writable and filed files could stay separate and just really help me help myself not be confused about what I was working on and what was ultimately filed. With Lawyaw keeping the writable PDFs in the Lawyaw system, the only time that PDF hits my file is the one that’s ready to be sent out, served, or filed.
This way, there’s less room for error and I don’t have to nag the others in my firm to do things how I would like to have them done. It prevents them from bringing rogue documents into the files and it helps us all stay organized.”
How did actual results compare to your expectations?
“Honestly one filing a month that I could get out faster than any other filing [was the expectation]. I just wanted Judicial Council forms in one spot—where I had a one-stop shop where it was all there together. As I was going through the demo I was like, ‘That looks good enough, from here we’ll figure it all out’. I just wanted one location to go through as opposed to having to search throughout the entirety of the internet.
Lawyaw has far exceeded any expectations I had. Not having to repeatedly type in case numbers, being able to do all form sets together, having things cross-populated and pulled all together—had it literally just had all the forms in one spot and I had to manually type it in, I would have considered that a success. Not typing everything all the time (and being able to do some slight modifications if I’m so inclined), just having them there, checking that the type looks good, the things fit in the right spots, being able to check boxes, all of that: the formatting far exceeded anything I expected it to be.
And just the ease of use: being able to download. Do you want to have your forms all come down as one PDF? Do you want to have them as multiple separate forms and be able to drag and drop?
Between the Lawyaw system and my own filing system, that has just been exceptional. It really has far exceeded any expectations that I had.”
How has using Clio and Lawyaw together helped you achieve better results?
“I use them together, all day every day. All my matters are stored in Clio. Clio is our practice management software. The firm runs on Clio. Every time I have a new matter that I’m getting ready to file a new lawsuit for, we hop into Lawyaw, add a new client, import contacts from Clio, and off to the races we go.
I use them in tandem and normally when I’m operating and doing anything in Lawyaw, I have Clio open at the same time.”
Have you found unexpected benefits to using both tools together?
“They’ve always worked well together from the outset. As we were starting the firm, we had Clio. Lawyaw came in shortly thereafter. Had I had a practice running for ten years and was changing my technology, I could see the unexpected benefit existing. But because we’re new and these technologies have been ground floor for us—an essential part of our practice from the beginning—I’ve just been pleasantly surprised.
We haven’t had technical issues. We haven’t had problems. Instead we’ve just been able to keep moving forward and keep using these technologies to speed up the practice, speed up efficiency, help me help all of us to make sure we don’t have rogue documents running around, etc.”
Why did you use Clio from day one?
“I’d been using Clio for about a year and a half at my prior firm. I saw the benefits of it. My prior firm wasn’t using it quite to its full capacity. But for me, I knew that I wanted something where all of my matters are housed, all of my billing can be run through, all of my payment processing, calendar, etc.—like a one-stop shop.
We also use Clio Grow as a part of our intake process. So for us, it was really key that we use Clio products and only Clio integration products so that everyone talks together.
We really have set up our law firm so we can be working from wherever and whenever we want. While we do have a physical office based in Pasadena, I’m in Seattle right now and home visiting my family and spending some time up here—which for us was really important.
The old days of being chained to your desk was not what we wanted when we started our firm. Also, I just really like Clio and having my matters there. I love the time tracking and the ability to process bills. We opened our firm February 1 and I was able to easily send out bills on March 1st without any problems.”