We talked to Larry Herscu, President of The Easy Legal Group of Companies on how they help people who have been hurt by providing financial support to pay their bills while their lawyer fights for a fair settlement and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Larry Herscu: I’m doing well, thanks. My family is healthy and safe, which is what matters most.
Since our firm’s inception, Easy Legal has operated remotely, so there wasn’t an adjustment to working from home. But I have young kids who have been attending school remotely on and off over the past 12 months. I’m amazed at how well they have handled all of the changes.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded The Easy Legal Group of Companies.
Larry Herscu: Before founding Easy Legal in 2012, I had more than 25 years of experience in the financial and legal services sectors as a Chief Operating Officer and other senior roles and directorships. Through that experience, I saw a gap in the litigation loan space — unsecured, settlement loan solutions that directly address personal injury plaintiffs and their lawyers’ needs.
We began with the Easy Legal brand and offered settlement lending solutions. Over the years, we expanded the offering to include other types of lending vehicles based on the growing needs (requests) of our lawyer partners and the businesses that support the personal injury sector. These include expert financing and file financing, which have been instrumental in supporting our partners during COVID-19.
Since then, we have acquired three of the most-established litigation lenders in Canada — Rhino Legal Finance in 2018, Seahold Investments in 2020 and Settlement Lenders in 2021 — creating an unparalleled portfolio of national brands.
Collectively, across all brands, we maintain our mission and remain dedicated to helping those who have been hurt and are in need of financial support in partnership with the plaintiff bar and its service providers.
How does The Easy Legal Group of Companies innovate?
Larry Herscu: As I mentioned, Easy Legal has worked virtually since the beginning, so we are well-versed with technologies and applications that make it easier to support our clients and lawyer partners. It’s funny; before the pandemic, we had come across a few companies that were hesitant to work with us because of our virtual model. Of course, these institutions have done an about-face on the value proposition of remote work environments and the obvious benefits of having a flexible business model.
We are a small organization but fully cloud-based. We leverage a number of well-regarded applications for our business’s many functions — with the end goal being efficiency and effectiveness (BambooHR, Wagepoint and Expensify for human resources, Asana and Jira for project management, among others).
For our core loan functions, we integrated Salesforce into our process, the second year of our business, as a CRM application. We decided in 2018, after looking at many loan platforms, to innovate and customize our Salesforce instance dramatically so that the entire lifecycle of our client’s loan experience could be represented within. This includes intake with the client capture of information, application and loan document distribution for e-signature (DocuSign and Conga) through to back-office and EFT payment distribution, banking functions and the booking of the loans after the payment. It has been instrumental in streamlining our approach for efficiency and providing a clear view of all the information required for each loan at a glance for all firm members. This improves communication (amongst our team members) and reduces unnecessary interactions or questions. We can also provide “just in time” information to our clients and lawyer partners when they call or email.
As it relates to cloud security and to protect the end-point, we also upgraded to new applications last year to better support our team (CrowdStrike and Avanan).
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Larry Herscu: When COVID-19 hit, the Canadian legal system closed down. Full stop. Before the pandemic, courts were already under a great strain and hadn’t modernized from a technology perspective. Once things started opening up again, the legal profession and the court system had to play catch-up with technology.
Our client base comprises civil plaintiffs and their counsel, so the pandemic closures have significantly impacted our business. If accident victims aren’t going to court, mediations, or medical appointments, they are not receiving settlements — and their lawyers aren’t getting paid. People don’t generally think of the justice system as having to weather the economy’s ups and downs. Still, there are so many ancillary service providers involved in a personal injury claim, and we have all been impacted by the pandemic.
The pandemic’s impact on the Canadian justice system and access to justice is something we have covered in a number of our blog posts.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Larry Herscu: This was a tough one and something the management team discussed at length. In the end, we did not let anyone go despite our business slowing down. We are big believers in building for the future against what we have to execute, within our strategic plan, including growing organically and through acquisition. In light of that challenge, we were more assertive this past year with looking for companies to complement our brand line-up. We acquired two companies and hired seven more employees in the last 12 months.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Larry Herscu: What’s grown and shaped our business from the beginning is the client’s needs, and we’ve had to build and develop our customized technology to support them. I mentioned our customized Salesforce instance and tools like DocuSign and Conga, which we use to streamline our process and which have been in place since 2016. These tools are probably more of an asset now, with the majority of clients working remotely.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Larry Herscu: At the beginning of the pandemic, we received a nominal amount through an employee wage subsidy offered through the Canadian government. It helped but certainly did not keep our business afloat.
Your final thoughts?
Larry Herscu: The pandemic continues to have a crippling effect on our business, the sectors we service, and — most importantly — our clients. When faced with challenging situations and business uncertainty, I think it’s critical to stay true to your plan, focus on the end goal and pivot to capture new opportunities.
This is not an easy path, but staying true to our vision, mission, and goals is essential and must be maintained in both good and challenging times. I truly believe staying committed to our plan differentiates us from our competitors, and it builds confidence with our clients, investors and partners.
Despite living through a year filled with inconveniences and disappointments, I consider us very lucky. We endured. We moved forward. And we did it together, which is not something most firms can say. I also believe it has made us stronger.
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