Mass tort litigation has been surging recently, with more claimants being reached through digital communication efforts, and a larger number of cases going to trial. It can be a particularly profitable area for law firms, but mass tort cases are notoriously complex and quickly moving.
Milestone holds a smart space in the legal services arena: They provide support to plaintiffs’ firms in the mass tort settlement process. They have innovative technology that helps streamline the process and they work closely with firms to deliver results to their clients.
We chatted with Milestone CEO Amy Fogle about trends she’s seeing in the mass tort space, and the work her company is doing to bring efficiency to the civil justice system.
Lawdragon: Tell us about Milestone and the work you’re doing there.
Amy Fogle: Milestone is a high-touch settlement solutions firm that enhances the mass tort qualified settlement fund administration process and provides tailored plaintiff settlement planning. That is a mouthful, so simply put – we help mass tort and personal injury attorneys make their post-settlement processes more efficient, and their settlement outcome (aka the money) be more impactful in their clients’ lives.
LD: What sorts of trends are you seeing in the mass tort space these days?
AF: We stay abreast of all the latest developments in our industry, but there are two lately that speak to what we do at Milestone. First, the number of mass torts that have gone to trial has dramatically increased in recent years. Largely due to our expanded communications capabilities as a society, it’s now easier than ever for people who have been wronged by malpractice or a faulty product to learn about litigation and connect with a mass tort attorney. And second – digitization is a universal trend, and one that is transforming legal services. I believe it’s our duty as service providers to constantly challenge the status quo and appropriately apply technology for the betterment of our industry.
LD: Can you give us an example of your use of technology?
AF: We recently launched Pathway, the leading technology platform that digitizes the mass tort post-settlement process. Instead of a paper check that has historically been the norm, Pathway enables mass tort claimants to receive their settlement funds virtually by MasterCard, PayPal, Zelle, or Direct Deposit. Once they select the option that works best for them, claimants will receive their settlement funds within 10 business days; before, this timeline was often months-long. It’s a first-of-its-kind technology in the mass tort space, and it is already dramatically modernizing the industry. The feedback we’ve been getting from attorneys who have implemented the platform for their cases this year has been overwhelmingly positive.
LD: What were some of the challenges you encountered in creating this program, or rolling it out?
It’s easier than ever for people who have been wronged by malpractice or a faulty product to learn about litigation and connect with a mass tort attorney.
AF: When we were conceptualizing Pathway, we knew that security had to be of the highest priority. So we set out to find the leading methods of securely handling and transmitting data. And I’m proud of where we’ve netted out. Pathway’s technology is SOC 2-compliant, meaning that we have the highest level of security in place around claimant settlement data; and because of this, Pathway can securely process, store and transmit data more efficiently than ever before. This care extended into selecting payment methods for inclusion on the platform, as well. For example, we found that Venmo didn’t cut it, primarily due to the social media-like nature of its feed – publicly posted transactions make it difficult for confidentiality to be maintained.
LD: This sounds like a really smart innovation for the mass tort space. How do you anticipate this impacting the industry?
AF: Pathway’s implications for the industry and our clients are what I’m most excited about. To start, Pathway saves law firms time and money. Knowing how busy the attorneys we work with are, this is huge. Pathway seamlessly integrates into how a law firm already does business, working with existing systems and taking the burden off the firm in organizing disbursement. Essentially, using Pathway frees attorneys up to pursue larger-scale litigation and really grow their firms without getting bogged down in the minutiae of settlement distribution within their mass tort cases.
In the context of our industry, Pathway brings us into the 21st century. Digitized systems aren’t the future – they’re our reality in the present, and it’s time the mass tort industry caught up with the rest of the world. Paper checks, while useful for some, shouldn’t be the standard. We need to meet claimants where they are, and Pathway enables us to do that.
Not to mention, Pathway serves the greater good by dramatically reducing the legal industry’s paper usage by more than 35 tons of paper per year.
It’s a first-of-its-kind technology in the mass tort space, and it is already dramatically modernizing the industry.
And looking at the wider impact beyond just our walls, Pathway truly revolutionizes the mass tort settlement experience for plaintiffs. If a plaintiffs’ firm uses Pathway, that individual is going to be educated around what is happening with their settlement monies at every step of the way. They will also have faster access to their money and more options as to how they want to be paid. This is especially important for a large percentage of mass tort claimants, who are – statistically speaking – more likely to be unbanked or underbanked.
LD: What’s the rollout going to look like this year, and moving forward?
AF: Pathway is set to digitally disburse more than $1B in mass tort settlements this year alone. While we can’t predict the future of mass tort settlement with certainty, laying the groundwork now for an efficient, informed, and digitized post-settlement process is the best thing we can do to set both firms and claimants up for success.
LD: How would you describe your style as CEO?
AF: My team and I really focus on authenticity and relationship-building as overarching business philosophies. If I’m working with you, you’re going to have my direct cell phone number, and you’re going to know that I have three amazing daughters that I adore. At Milestone, we recognize that business thrives for all involved when it’s treated as a relationship rather than a series of transactions.
LD: What advice would you give lawyers or law firms in terms of how to work with an outside advisor most productively?
AF: Particularly in our niche of the industry, my best advice is to engage a trusted partner consistently and early. Find a partner you can truly depend on, and integrate them into your firm's team. The firms where we are able to make the biggest impact are the ones that we work with on an ongoing basis. They let us know well before settlement that a new case is on the horizon, and we’re able to be hands-on to help optimize and customize the process from the get-go.
LD: What’s next for Milestone?
AF: We are working toward an enriched mass tort post-settlement process being implemented in law firms across America. We’ve gathered some of the brightest minds in the industry to harness the power of the latest technology and put it to use for our clients’ firms. Our expertise – combined with leading innovation – can truly unlock that next level of success for a firm that has business goals around efficiency and growth in 2023.