The Legal Helm: Episode #14
Estimated read time: 16 minutes
Episode #14 of The Legal Helm features Tiffany Organisciak, President, Founder and Partner of Sandbox Union, a custom software development firm in East Rochester, NY. Bim and Tiffany discuss Sandbox Union’s latest legal-focused product, Case Compass, and how customized software can enhance attorney life and boost client experience.
Bim Dave is Helm360’s Executive Vice President. With 15+ years in the legal industry, his keen understanding of how law firms and lawyers use technology has propelled Helm360 to the industry’s forefront. A technical expert with a penchant for developing solutions that improve business systems and user experience, Bim has a knack for bringing high quality IT architects and developers together to create innovative, useable solutions to the legal arena.
Tiffany Organiscaik is President, Founder and Partner of Sandbox Union, an up-and-coming customized software development company in East Rochester, NY. She’s a self-taught programmer who’s leveraged her background in education and management to grow the company from a two-person team to a 20-person enterprise. Known for her effective management tactics and problem-solving abilities, Tiffany is leading the company into high-privacy markets, such as the legal field, healthcare, and workforce development.
Bim: Hi, everyone. Hello to my Legal Helm listeners.
Today on our show, we are talking with Tiffany Organisciak from Sandbox Union, the company behind Case Compass, a web-based platform developed to manage complex landlord and tenant law cases for legal firms. It has since been extended to cater for all types of practice areas and allows you to enhance the interface through customization and functionality to support a wide range of caseloads.
Today’s topic is how a law firm’s investment in a case management solution can impact customer experience and loyalty.
Tiffany, welcome to the show and thank you for coming on.
Tiffany: Thank you for having me on.
Bim: You’re welcome. My first question is about your background. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey. For example, I know that you have a background in music and music education. t’lIl be interesting to know about how you got from the world of music to building software for law firms.
Tiffany: Yes, absolutely. My background is in music education. I have both my bachelor and master’s in music education. In 2020, my husband and I were sitting down having a conversation and it occurred to us that there isn’t a lot of great custom software available out there. There aren’t that many companies that do what we want to do.
My husband’s background is in healthcare software. That’s where the idea for Sandbox Union came from. I don’t have a background in software development, but I took advantage of the shutdown and I taught myself how to code. Then, we built a team around us to get us where we are today.
Bim: Fantastic. Thinking about music and reading music and what you’ve learned from that experience, did any of it help you learning a new programming language? What other influences and lessons do you draw one from music education?
Tiffany: There’s definitely a connection between them. Reading music is a learned process just like learning to code and develop. I think as an educator that part plays a large role in how I help my employees. We hire a lot of students from RIT; they do co-ops with us for a semester. My education background plays a role in how my employees and students are learning and how they’re absorbing the information.
There’s a very methodical way that we do things and that’s due to my education background. I don’t tell my [employees, “Okay, I need you to do this” without any background into how we’re going to actually accomplish it.
Bim: That makes total sense when you think about how people come into a business and learn the art of delivering the product that you envision. Sometimes when we think about that, we think about it from a pure skills perspective, i.e. I’ve got the programming skills on my resume that allows me to do something. But I think you make a really great point that education is continued in terms of how you actually leverage those skills and coach the individuals to deliver a successful product at the end of the day.
Are you able to tell us what instrument you play or do you still play any instruments?
Tiffany: I went to school on piano and my secondary instrument is clarinet. I play a little bit. I still teach piano on the side. I also teach high school marching band. Music education will always be there, but it’s a fun side job for me. It keeps me integrated in the music world in some way.
Bim: Do you find that the music provides some kind of release as well? Because if you’re doing a heavy, intense day of development or working with people building product, do you find it gives a bit of a change to switch of gears to help you focus?.
Tiffany: I think so. I mean, music is there for most people as a release, as a calm of some sort. It doesn’t even matter what kind of genre of music we’re listening to. Almost everyone has that kind of bond to music. Actually, most of us here in the office, as we are coding, we do have music playing in the background. Most of us have our headsets in and we’re listening to something as we’re coding. Just to kind of also keep our brains engaged as we’re working throughout the day.
Bim: I want to talk about the product that you are delivering to the market, Case Compass. Can you tell us what problem Case Compass is intended to solve?
Tiffany: Case Compass is a legal software used for case management originally built for attorneys and landlords to track their cases when looking at evictions. The biggest part of it was to eliminate the need for paper and the amount of paper that is handled when going to court and all the back and forth that’s involved.
We’ve digitized the system, made it more efficient, and allow clients (the landlords) to track the progress of a case When we’re looking at case management, there’s multiple steps involved from the beginning any given case to finishing out and closing a case.
Any case can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months, if not a year, from start to finish. This helps centralize and keep everything in one location as well as documentation. Trial dates and all the information that needs to be in one place. Hopefully eliminating multiple pieces of software that are off the shelf and can only do a couple of things. You have to use two or three pieces of software just to accomplish what you want to do. Case Compass solves that problem by being an all-in-one program for both attorneys and landlords/clients.
Bim: Excellent. Are you able to tell us about how it’s delivered? Is it a SaaS solution or is it on-prem? How is it typically deployed?
Tiffany: It is a web-based SaaS solution. So multi-tenant SaaS solution.
Bim: So pretty quick to on-board and start using the product. I assume. Correct?
Tiffany: Yes. As clients are asking for the product, there’s going to be some amount of customization as we change out logos and branding. But for the most part, it will be readily available once we have a sit-down conversation and get a better understanding of what the client’s needs are. So there’s a small level of customization that is involved, but pretty quick to use.
Bim: With law firm clients in mind, I often hear about frustration with the lack of visibility of how their case is progressing and the communication between the law firm and the client can sometimes be a bit challenging. How does Case Compass help with this?
Tiffany: Case Compass has two views that make it available. There is an attorney view that has the progress of any client’s pending actions and attorney actions. So, it is a back and forth. As steps are accomplished, everyone is notified. As we are checking off on the steps, the client has one view which basically takes both sides of the timeline. It moves it into one timeline for them. And again, it’s a check mark system. So, there’s that visual aid there. As the attorney accomplishes a step, it checks off. If a client has to do a step, they do whatever action it is they need to do and they check off on this step.
Everything is time stamped. An email or SMS text message goes out as well informing both attorney and client that step three has been completed, go ahead and move on to step four, upload whatever specific documents need to be done.
I think from that standpoint, just being able to see where you are in terms of that progress is a large help. It takes a big workload and pressure off of the front office too. If clients have questions about where their cases are-as they have the right to-there’s no need to constantly call and ask, “where are we in my case.” There’s that visual aid that let’s them see where things are. I know where my attorneys are in this step and I understand that this process may take two or three days before the courts actually sign off before we can actually move on. That that eliminates a lot of wait time and the unknown for a lot of clients.
Bim: You mentioned Tiffany, something called the timeline view, which sounds like one of the stand out features of Case Compass in terms of how you present that data. Can you explain a little bit more about that in terms of how you came up with that idea of presenting the data that way? How do you find that helps customers using your product?
Tiffany: The timeline is the guts of the software once we get all the information that is needed. Every client submits an intake form that contains all their basic demographic information and why we are going forward with the case. That information is then stored into the timeline. Any of the documents that they have uploaded live onto the timeline.
The timeline becomes a guide and essentially a to-do list for both parties. Both parties have a responsibility to do their tasks in order to get themselves either to trial or, in case of evictions. to getting a warrant granted and beginning the actual eviction process. There’s a lot of information contained on the timeline. From a visual standpoint, it looks pretty simple. It’s a clean guide of what we are doing, but behind the scenes, the side attorneys see, there’s a lot happening. Court dates can be set, due dates can be set. Those are eventually tied to emails that go out. So, if a court date is set on September 15, the client receives an email saying “your court date is set for September 15th” and any important pertainent information goes with it.
Another feature that’s more of the behind-the-scenes for attorneys is being able to set up reminders. You can set up reminders to happen 12 hours before an event, three days before an event, whatever it is that you want it to do. It all lives right in the timeline and is customizable as well.
It is a dynamic system. As it stands today with one of our law firms, they can add and remove steps because even though we have it set to specific timeline templates, there’s always going to be those extenuating circumstances where all those steps aren’t needed and they just remove it. Or they’ve had to go to court more than once or twice. We build on additional steps or the attorneys do. They have that ability. They can move steps around, add steps, remove steps, and all of this becomes available for clients to see.
Bim: it sounds like a really great visual aid to cut through the complexity of the case. You know what’s going to happen next and what’s just happened. It lays out the path for getting to the end goal. I love it.
When we think about customers and customer experience and how a product like Case Compass can help firms build customer loyalty through a positive experience like you’ve just described, how do you ensure that when you are building the solution now, and you’re building new features, like the timeline feature and others, that that’s going to make sense to the customer?
Tiffany: The first step we always take with our clients is a sit down conversation about what is your current process? Take me through a day of a life of this case, take me through a day in the life of an eviction attorney. Do all those steps look like? This gives us a concrete understanding of what that workflow is. Step one is always figuring out what that correct workflow is and establishing that.
There’s a larger research aspect of that as well. We’ve become pretty well-versed in whatever it is we’re building. We make sure that we understand the process fully before we even start building. We sketch out the workflow, we sit down with the clients again, the attorneys again, and make sure that it looks okay and the workflow makes sense. Because if we start building and there’s the unknown, then we have to resketch it. The more we understand the process, the easier it becomes for us to fully build the product.
That’s really where the good customer experience start. Because if we have to go back because we’ve missed a crucial step in the process, that’s time that we’re taking away from both the clients and the development team in the end. A large part is making sure that we’re all on the same page with our client.
Once the product is in place and it’s been in use for quite some time, we add features. Once a month, I sit down with our attorneys and ask them. What feedbacks do you have, what’s something that you’d like added, what are your clients saying?
Because our clients have their own clients, they definitely have opinions. At the end of the day, it’s about making sure that everyone can do their job and do it in a way that’s not frustrating. That is ultimately why we came into the picture. To eliminate the hassle. We don’t want to create software that becomes frustrating for people. It should be a simple, smooth process from beginning to end. That’s why we add those features as we go. We put out a handful of features every month or so and decide how we’re going to do that and keep the integrity of the software, the original build of the software.
Bim: It sounds like a great product and like it’s solving a real issue. I’m sure law firms can really benefit from it. I want to ask a few wrap up questions if I may?
Bim: First one is: If you could borrow Dr. Who’s time machine and go back to Tiffany at 18 years old, what career advice would you give yourself?
Tiffany: It’s hard when you’re 18 years old. You think, you know, everything at that age and you don’t. I think a large part would be thinking about where I could see myself working career-wise for the next 20-30 years of my life. In my case it didn’t turn out to be music education. I enjoyed it. I definitely loved going to school for that, but in the end, I don’t think I could spend 30 years in a school. Whereas I could be developing and coding for the next 30-40 years of my life and I would be happy doing that. I think that brings me joy at the end of the day. There’s always going to be that challenge. I thrive on challenge. So, I think for 18-year-old, Tiffany, I would be telling myself to think about what I could do for the rest of my life, that would make me happy.
Bim: That’s fantastic. Great answer. It’s interesting because you’ve got me thinking about the whole transition from music to coding. In your case, it’s accelerated the process of being able to adopt a new language, learn a new language, and then put it into action. It’s an interesting story. Thanks sharing it.
What is the one question you would’ve asked yourself that I didn’t in this interview?
Tiffany: That’s a tough one. You had some really good questions. Actually, a lot of people ask me this all the time when I tell them my husband and I own a company together: How do you work every single day with your husband in the same office? Thankfully my husband and I are almost always on the same page. Even if we’re not, we still have a conversation what it is that we need to get done job-wise. Working with my husband is an interesting thing, but it’s been fun. It’s been a journey. We’ve never had any major arguments. We’re always in agreement with most things and I see him every single day, 24 7.
Bim: That is a really good question. If I was in similar situation, we’d probably be tearing each other’s hair out by now. So well done well done for being able to do that. You’ll have to come back on at some point and share the secrets of working with your partner. That could be a whole episode on its own.
Bim: Any closing thoughts or advice that you think would benefit the legal professionals in our audience?
Tiffany: Coming from the developer side and having several law firms as clients, I think a lot of the hesitation that arises around custom software is because they’re afraid of technology. I think that is a big part: Don’t be afraid of technology. Software is out there to help you and make life easier. I think attorneys are afraid that software is going to take their job or their role. It’s just there as helper. It’s an additional aid. It’s not meant to replace anyone’s job. It eliminates a lot of manual processes that I think are pain points for a lot of legal professionals. We have clients that say, “but I have people who don’t know how to use computers.” As a custom software company, we try to make things as simple as possible by making sure we have client input and that we build is intuitive.
Bim: Yeah, I love that. Embrace, change, and good things happen.
Tiffany: Yeah, absolutely.
Bim: Excellent. Thank you very much for your time today. Tiffany, it’s been much appreciated. If any of my audience want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to reach you?
Tiffany: You can reach us on all of the major social media platforms. We’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. You can also visit our sandboxunion.com.
Bim: Once again, Tiffany, thank you for sharing some really interesting things about your product and how that can help law firm efficiency, particularly in the case management space. It’s been really insightful. Thank you very much.
Tiffany: Absolutely. Thank you. It’s been fun.