Looking back on it now, Pati Jansons says the day her boss said she was no longer needed was the day she was set free.
A legal assistant for a local law firm, Pati’s interest in law centres around organization, systems, and support. She’s also got alot of energy, a fair bit of vision, and what some people would call chutzpah!
Self employment was a logical step.
But even Pati didn’t know how successful self employment would be!
She opened Jansons Legal Services in the Fall, 1995 and is getting ready to celebrate seven years in business at the end of this summer. She started her business with a plan that called for law clerk support to the legal industry. Pati well remembers her first contract, a law firm in Hamilton.
She had lots to overcome in those days… the “north of nine” complex from Toronto law firms that finally forced her to put a Toronto number in a corner office of a friend and link it to her Barrie line… concern around releasing files to be worked on by a private contractor… credibility. After all, her company was so new it squeaked.
As Pati was accessing the small business training offered to her through the Self Employment Assistance Program, her husband was chiding her from his marketing position with a Toronto company. “Pati, you’ve got to make four cold calls a day. You’ve got to reach four lawyers who don’t know you between 8:30 and 9 am every single day, if you’re going to grow this business!”
Pati took on the task, eventually convincing regional clients that their document and transcript management services could be easily contracted to her, that her support during trial attendance would enhance, not hinder the process. She spent arduous hours creating document summaries and chronologies for cases… and in larger cases the file boxes can number in the hundreds, each with critical bits of information. In the old days, a team of people would scramble through boxes looking for a single item, using up time and money to do so. Pati puts it in chronological order, creates a summary and hands it back, complete.
She’d arrive at a lawyer’s office, retrieve hundreds of boxes, take them to her secure site and do her magic. She’d find out how lawyers want to find documents and how many lawyers would be involved. She’d also check out how computer literate a lawyer is and what kind of skills are in his or her support staff.
At least, that’s what she WAS doing.
“I want to make it as simple as possible for a lawyer, putting everything literally at their fingertips,” says Pati. In her base site, Pati’s team scans, images, databanks and indexes all the material, handing it back completely catalogued and accessible. Hours and hours (and therefore dollars and dollars) saved as research is retrieved for court cases.
Like any good entrepreneur, Pati continued to look at how to meet the needs of her clients in the most advanced, cost effective way.
It was Pati’s husband, Girts, who really pushed her into specializing in document management and it was an energetic computer co-op student who completed the circle. At her 18 month mark in business, Jansons Legal Services began to develop software that would enhance Pati’s skill at managing, documenting, and locating material for lawyers. With much trial, error, tweaking, and systems development, Pati’s style has moved way ahead of anything else available.
This year, JLS Inc. launched its new software, DATAssimilate.
With DATAssimilate, a lawyer can search for any tiny piece of paper by field, by word search, by date. They might be looking for a specific letter in a case and up will come all the letters, described and dated and catalogued and indexed so that once they’ve found it on the computer, finding it in “hard copy” is a cinch!
“From a JLS perspective, we want to design a system that lets our coders work efficiently, accurately, effectively. We can take on much more work which certainly affects everyone’s bottom line,” says Pati.
Girts put his marketing magic to work with the computer programmer to design software that really pushed JLS to the forefront of legal products. Now, with a second company, DATAssimilate, Inc., the Jansons have taken their perfected product on the road. They’ve begun the huge work of selling the concept to the legal community, and that’s where Girts’ skills are so crucial.
A law firm can now become its own service bureau. They can add to an existing file all on their own. They can do their own small files and they can have JLS handle the huge files. For law firms wanting to retain all their records, the software allows them to image, scan, code, brand (uniquely numbering each page), print all their own files.
The software also tracks who does what for how long so billing the client is tracked easily, allowing a lawyer immediately generate revenue with the software. The program is alive; staff can work on it, use it, retrieve from it while it’s being added to. “Everyone can put their own spin on it to create their own ‘picture’,” says Girts.
“We launched DATAssimilate Systems Inc. at a tech show in Toronto last November,” says Girts, “and then in February we took it to the Legal Technical Show in New York.”
It did well.
With a unique marketing concept that puts no price tag on the product, but rather prices based on use, Pati and Girts are delighted that the product is being used by a service bureau in the states similar to JLS in Canada. And now DATAssimilate has been introduced to major Canadian law firms. It’s been embraced by the Ontario Attorney General’s office, with solid reviews.
They’ve introduced a leasing option and have a recommended hardware package, though most law firms will want to use their own IT departments.
Pati also sees its archiving potential and the benefit of having a cabinet of CD files instead of a second building to house old records.
What’s next for this entrepreneurial pair? Well, hospital record archiving. School Board archiving. Manufacturers files.
They’ve come a long way from Pati’s basement office in their Letitia Heights home in 1995 to their secure site in an industrial building in Barrie’s south end where 20 employees work as programmers, coders, law clerks, technicians and consultants. And with a Toronto office truly in existence, Pati’s excited that people can view their product and go through an online demonstration. You can check it out at www.DATAssimilate.com or you can call 1-1-877-794-3282.
Thanks, Pati. Thanks, Girts.