46. Elizabeth Kane, CrossX — Dual Rep Prevention: Regain Capital at Scale

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Elizabeth Kane, President at CrossX, offers an end-to-end solution to dual reps – a major source of frustration and lost capital for mass tort firms. When the plaintiff volume is in the thousands or tens of thousands, the tech needs to be there to help catch a problem right away and create efficiencies. Today we discover how CrossX can help address the dual representation of clients in mass tort cases automatically while protecting the firm’s bottom lines.

What’s In This Episode

  • Who is Elizabeth Kane?
  • How did an art gallery director become the president of Cross X?
  • How does CrossX blend software, SPOs, and training to save mass tort firms money?
  • How does CrossX maintain client care when the number of plaintiffs is in the thousands?
  • How is Elizabeth using past experiences to develop a culture in her growing company?
  • How does autonomy help fight imposter syndrome?

Transcript

Elizabeth Kane:

No matter what structure the firm has in place, no matter what tech they do or they don’t have, it will provide them the same result, so then that benefit passes through to their plaintiffs.

Sonya Palmer:

Everyone in the mass tort consumer protection world is affected by dual reps.

Elizabeth Kane:

It’s bad for the defense. It frustrates the judges in the courts. It’s frustrating to the plaintiff bar. It’s frustrating to every individual attorney.

Sonya Palmer:

In 2021, women made up over half of all summer associates for the fourth year in a row, yet equity partners in multi-tier law firms continue to be disproportionately white men. Only 22% of equity partners are women. We would like to see that change. Hello and welcome to LawHER, the show where we celebrate the trailblazing attorneys and entrepreneurs who are changing the game for women in the legal fields. Be inspired by their stories, learn from their mistakes, build community, and look forward to the future they’re helping build for the next generation of women in law. I am Sonya Palmer, your host and VP of Operations at Rankings, the digital agency of choice for personal and jury lawyers. This is LawHER.
Dual reps are a major source of frustration and loss capital for. When the plaintiff volume is in the thousands or tens of thousands, the tech needs to be there to help catch a problem right away and create efficiencies. Elizabeth Kane offers CrossX as an end-to-end solution. Today we discover how CrossX can help address the dual representation of clients in mass work cases automatically, protecting firm’s bottom lines in the process. Elizabeth had an unconventional journey to becoming the president of Cross-Ex. She shares with us the journey that got her to where she is. Let’s dive in.

Elizabeth Kane:

And so I think the first piece was when I went to college, I was in the economics program and immediately I recognized that that was something that didn’t attract a lot of women, but it was something I was very curious about. I’ve always wanted to be a student of my environment and economics when I was deciding on my major, just seemed like the perfect fit because it was this pervasive discipline. You could walk into a town and look at the way things were happening and think about the economics of that, or you could zoom out and think about it on a global scale. And coming out of college, I did want to go to law school. I was ready to do so, and then realized I needed to get out there in the workforce. And so the job that I was working in to help pay for college, the main job was at an art gallery.
And when I graduated, I became the gallery director. And so I was in the art world.

Sonya Palmer:

Wow.

Elizabeth Kane:

Yeah, very unconventional, going from … I got economics degree. I thought I would go work for an NGO or do something in development, and incidentally just ended up in the art world. But again, being in this pervasive discipline, I was able to apply all of those principles that I learned in college to running this business and then having this really unique opportunity to run a business directly out of college and have this autonomy. I essentially was just really handed the business and said, “Run with it.” And I brought it up to speed. I got us on social media, built the website, but also was in their day-to-day working with clients, purchasing art, doing evaluations, all of these things. And so that immediate experience of wearing a lot of different hats and having to figure things out on the fly and to learn an entire new industry overnight, that built the framework that then brought me into the next position and the next position.
So I inadvertently stayed in the art world for about 10 years and then moved into healthcare tech. I began with a tech startup there. So we were launching a product. We were marketing to hospitals and health systems. And I was overnight traveling all over the country doing presentations and demos in front of the C-suites at hospitals, bought my first suit from there. When COVID hit of course, the whole healthcare world shut down. Vendors weren’t allowed in hospitals and so I moved into a legal startup. Once again, software came full circle because I had wanted to go to law school and didn’t have that opportunity. And it was almost like this redemption that I was back in the field that I had had so much interest in. And through that, I learned how to again, speak the language of law. I was reading every legal paper I could get my hands on. I was listening to all the podcasts. And here I am in my early thirties and I’m a student again. And that’s been that theme throughout, so here we are.

Sonya Palmer:

So economics, art.

Elizabeth Kane:

Yep.

Sonya Palmer:

Healthcare, software, startups, legal. What did you want to be when you were eight years old?

Elizabeth Kane:

I always either wanted to be a vet or a lawyer. I wanted to be able to solve injustices in the world because I guess you could say that there’s a through line here too. You’re a vet, there’s animals that are in pain. You want to solve that. With a lawyer or an attorney, you’re solving someone else’s pain and you’re able to come to a solution through gathering information, processing it, all of that.

Sonya Palmer:

I think you’re right. I think there is a through line there because injustice is very wounding. An injustice can absolutely wound someone, and lawyers help people heal from that injustice. And then your current position as president is fairly new. How did all of that equal Cross-Ex?

Elizabeth Kane:

In my immediate past position, I was primarily selling software and then doing some management of that with firms. And so I had about 200 different firms or so that I had worked with or had communication with. And this experience of constantly developing this product to better fit their needs … We specialized in the mass to art landscape, and so that of course is something that’s continually changing. You have to be on your toes, you have to be really agile and able to conform to the needs of the firm. And you do that really by listening to them. So I, in a lot of my sales calls, would do as much listening and discovery and question asking as I would do answering, and that became this beautiful balance. And so everything I took there in that experience when that company was acquired and I became a free agent, as I say, I was picked up to lead this CrossX product, which was this beautiful idea and it had the bones, but I needed to put everything else on it and make it a fully fleshed out product.
I had an opportunity to come in early, be influential, but also learn to be collaborative with a lot of different departments, and not be highly specialized in any one thing. And so that and my curious mind served me well again, where I felt like I was perfectly positioned to take on this and take on this endeavor where we’re offering something that no other solution has really been able to offer at the scale and with the ability to be easily adapted by firms. And again, I pulled all of those pain points that I had heard from them and said, “I want to solve for all of those so that when we launch, we’ve already taken all of that into consideration.”

Sonya Palmer:

I think that’s incredible. How fun, to be able to take someone else’s or a variety of people’s brilliant idea and then go execute on that? That sounds like a dream come true.

Elizabeth Kane:

To be in a position where I have autonomy and I do get to wear all those different hats, has been such a dream, truly wake up and it’s something different every day. There’s no sitting at your desk hammering out the same thing and closing your laptop at the end of the day. There’s always something going on, and the wheels are always turning.

Sonya Palmer:

I love it. So CrossX is the dual rep solution. Can you break down what that means and who you serve?

Elizabeth Kane:

So we primarily serve mass tort firms, firms in consumer protection. And what I recognized in my immediate past position is dual reps were always considered a cost of doing business for firms. It was a source of major frustration for them, but something where there was no immediate solution available, and any of the solutions that tried to take care of it were more reactionary than preventative. And so I got it and I recognized the problem before I ever became involved in the solution, which again was a really unique position. So in working with these law firms, any mass tot firm, their plaintiff represents their client, their consumer, and their primary focus. And it’s a scalable model. So there’s small firms that only ever have 10 plaintiffs for any particular tort, and there’s those that have 10,000. And I wanted to create something that wouldn’t just address dual reps for the 10,000, for the large firm, or something that wouldn’t address dual reps really late stage, which was traditionally how it happened in the centrality.
And so I wanted it to be effective, not only day one, but throughout the litigation because I recognized that this wasn’t only a problem on day one and it would never happen again. It happens month one, month two, six months, two months. And because attorneys in these situations are working on contingency fees, it’s really important to shore up that investment and make sure that everything that they’re putting into this plaintiff, the touchpoints, the capital, paying for leads, marketing, all of the front office administration, that they have some sort of insurance, that they’re not putting all of that into this plaintiff only to lose them at the 11th hour with no chance of recouping or co-counseling, or something like that. Again, I saw that they could do a dupe check within their own CRM, but that’s very siloed data.
They could wait until the centrality stage, but now they’ve lost all of that investment, and there was no communication or centralized database that really was able to adjust this problem. And so that’s what we built. And it’s an exciting thing to launch, but I think a part of this is making firms recognize that they don’t have to just write off dual reps. They don’t have to say, “Oh, that was a loss,” and eat it and keep going, that every single one of those plaintiffs and ultimately what they’re trying to do by having the case in the first place, we can take care of that and we can ensure that for them.

Sonya Palmer:

So you have various systems that you offer during that early, mid and then end stage?

Elizabeth Kane:

I saw firms have limited resources. I want to save those resources and I don’t want them to have to use multiple platforms and have all these tasks in order to identify dual reps. I wanted it to be something that was just working. They interacted with it, they have very little time and it just worked and it continued to work. And that one solution worked from the moment they had a signed retainer with that plaintiff.

Sonya Palmer:

Wow.

Elizabeth Kane:

All the way till settlement phase of litigation. That’s it. It’s that simple.

Sonya Palmer:

Providing an end-to-end solution is no small task. Elizabeth and the team at CrossX offers hands-on systems and SOPs to help firms become more streamlined.

Elizabeth Kane:

I offer that account management, that touch base, that one-on-one, the kickoff call where we’re onboarding and we’re having a conversation with whoever their stakeholder is in the office, and then continuing to have conversations about is this working for you? What’s the best way in which your firm can use this? What does your workflow look like? Because I can have a conversation with them and say, “You know what? This would work really well for your firm,” and then I can talk to another firm and say, “This actually would work really well for your workflow.” So it takes into consideration that every single firm has their own size, their own structure, but also their own culture, their personality and their own workflows. And this product needed to work for every single one of those firms. And I do believe that we’ve achieved that.

Sonya Palmer:

Yes, it sounds incredible. Do you provide physical people to help with what you’re focusing on?

Elizabeth Kane:

Yes. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So you can get on the phone and call someone or write an email or set up a call anytime that you need assistance. But I think we also wanted to be able to have this kickoff call, do this introduction. And the firms are just like, “This is that easy? There’s no, I have to figure out this thing and that thing and I’ve got to work through these three other platforms and able to implement this?” It truly is the simplest SaaS that they’ll ever interact with. And for firms that are really weary of having to implement all these technologies, especially during COVID, they had to create all these new systems and get everyone on board. I’m sure there’s some fatigue around that, and I recognized that and I said, “I just need this to be so simple for anyone to use,” and I needed it, again, to be working in the background all the time so that you’ve put that plaintiff in the system and you never have to think about it again.
You don’t have to go in and manually run a report, you don’t have to scrub things, you don’t have to do any of that. You get real-time notifications on your dual reps from the moment that you put them in the system, all the way through that litigation.

Sonya Palmer:

So your company is tackling case processing, management, resolution and you have a system mass tort law firm. And you just mentioned custom. What’s that balance? What’s that look like for a product, but then these bespoke solutions? You mentioned you have to listen to or adopt their workflow. How much of this is something that you can repeat, and how much are you having to create with every firm that you work with?

Elizabeth Kane:

Again, what I learned in being in startups is the best solutions are out of the box solutions. But then you’re able to turn these dials to make it fit. So we are not a case management software, we do a piece of that, but we’ll work with your case management software. We are not a marketing firm, but we can work with the leads that you end up getting through your marketing firm, and put those into our system once you have the signed retainers. And we’re not going to be your call center or your medical record retrieval or any of that but again, we won’t interfere or block any of those systems from being used because they don’t need to integrate in that way. I wanted to stay hyper-focused on this problem and say, “Those other use cases will come and we’ll hear and find out about those industry trends as we’re going, but I need to become really, really specialized in what I’m trying to solve for, but I need to be broad enough to be able to fit into any firm.”
And it was really striking that balance, but much of that was based on the experience I had, but also the early conversations as I was launching Cross-Ex. And there were days that I thought I had had it figured out and then I would get on a call with a firm or someone else in the industry and I would say, “This is what I’m building,” and they would go, “But have you thought of this?” And then the light bulb would go off, and it was like I had thought of everything. You’ve never thought of everything in software. And what I’ve said to a lot of people when talking about CrossX is if you’re in software and you’re looking to get to the end of the line and just put a bow on it and be like, “I’m done,” you shouldn’t be in software. It’s not the right fit for you. It’s never done. It’s always improving.
The need for improvement will always be exponentially more than your ability to keep up with it. So it’s finding that priority, finding what the biggest need is right now, what’s the best use case right now, so you’re not spreading yourself so thin and then not offering a product that’s actually doing what it needs to do, in a very robust way.

Sonya Palmer:

I think your example of dials is perfect. So you’re not creating these functions from scratch, you’re dialing them in. And then you can, based on where a firm needs something specific, you can turn it up or you can turn it down. So I think that’s a perfect example. And then you must be a systems’ person to oversee all of these branches of the business. Do you have favorite pieces of tech or books or frameworks or anything like that, that you like to use?

Elizabeth Kane:

Yeah, my favorite is monday.com. I know it comes up all the time. It came up recently on one of your podcasts. But it truly to me is one of the best product management software out there. Of course, I use Salesforce as well and picking … I’m also a reports person and a data person. But metrics are really important. And what I’ve found is Monday can do all of that. It’s your project management, it’s your CRM, it is your task flows, it’s even just documents, like writing up scripts and things like that. I love doing it on Monday because it’s available to me in the cloud and then if I’m on different devices, I can access it. So it’s just been beautiful for me. I love it.

Sonya Palmer:

Yes, I think those all in one tools where you can just have an overview look at everything, are becoming more and more important.

Elizabeth Kane:

Yes. Absolutely.

Sonya Palmer:

Every client and their experience is critical to the success of a firm. How do you ensure that the client experience is the same for each client who comes through your process?

Elizabeth Kane:

It’s making sure that no matter what structure the firm has in place, no matter what tech they do or they don’t have, it will provide them the same result, so then that benefit passes through to their plaintiffs. One of the things that should be highlighted about dual reps is everyone is affected by dual reps. Everyone within the mass tort consumer protection world and legal is affected by dual reps. It’s bad for the defense, it frustrates the judges in the courts. It’s frustrating to the plaintiff bar, it’s frustrating to the attorneys, every individual attorney. And then it’s not good for the plaintiffs as well. It really is the type of tool that can clean up that mess. And then that efficiency and that truth in what you’re carrying through and your truth and your communications with your plaintiff and everything like that, it may be the thing that tips off that your plaintiff’s confused about who they signed up with.
And there’s nothing insidious behind it, it’s just confusion or miscommunication. It may tip off things where a simple communication between two firms will take care of the problem and it allows you to do it so much earlier.

Sonya Palmer:

You’re handling volumes in the tens of thousands. So how do you balance that efficiency you mentioned, with also the genuine care? How do you bring them together?

Elizabeth Kane:

I thought of the structure of the way that law firms that are doing mass torts work. And each plaintiff represents an incremental, commodity’s not the right word, but a commodity for them. If you lose one plaintiff, again, you shouldn’t have to just consider that a cost of doing business. And so I recognized that volume was really important as it is in mass torts. Mass torts have grown so rapidly, the scale is incredible. And again, the technology hasn’t really been able to keep up. And so it was almost like we’ll address these problems because these are the things that we can handle within the firm and we’ll have to leave those for another day. And that’s one of the beauties of technology is it gives you the tool to address that so that you can scale up really fast.
And so seeing that this tool could do that, it could be that repeater, it could be that thing that makes you that much more productive, that was so appealing to me and again, why it’s so important for firms to consider this and to have that conversation because again, it’s completely scalable. Their models are scalable, the MDL structures are scalable. And so the way that this tool works follows that same structure. So it’s not a subscription model, it’s not a user-based model, because those SaaS models weren’t going to work considering that mass torts do this. There’s these ups and downs of capital, there’s these ups and downs of settlement, there’s long waiting periods for things to shake out within litigation. And I took all of that into consideration when building this tool as well.

Sonya Palmer:

CrossX launched recently, and the culture is still in development. Elizabeth digs into the positive past experiences that she hopes to bring forward in her growing team.

Elizabeth Kane:

My last position, I had this really wonderful culture. My immediate team was seven women and that was something that was so uplifting to me and empowering to me. And then my boss was a female as well and she was younger than me and I really looked up to her, and she gave me a lot of autonomy right off the bat and taught me a lot of the things that I then said, “When I’m a leader or if I ever become a leader, I’m going to empower my people like that. I’m going to make sure that people in my team see other people on the team that look like them, that have some of the same values.” And that culture builds itself. Going into work every day and just knowing that I have this wonderful group of women around me, there’s so much buoyancy there. And so as I’m building my team, I’m considering those that I know and those that I had a wonderful experience with, and pulling them in.
But I really intend to have a lot of that same structure there and give autonomy, I think, where it’s due and not be a micromanager and say, “I recognize your skills and I’m going to leverage those skills, but also what are you interested in? What does your best seat look like?” Because I had that ability both in my last position and now. And it’s just done wonders for my confidence and my ability to tackle things head on.

Sonya Palmer:

Yeah, I love that you used both empower and autonomy because I feel that way in my position. I run operations for Rankings and I felt that way from the very beginning. And empowerment was never the right word to me, which was like, “Here’s permission to do your job,” but autonomy, that feels way more accurate. And I like that. I think those two come together and it works in everyone’s best interest when you have good people that you can trust, that you can empower and give autonomy. That’s how you launch and scale a startup or any business. So rule number one.

Elizabeth Kane:

That’s another way in which we’re able to battle something that I really struggled with early in my career, was this imposter syndrome thing. And it was there in the art world where I said, “I have no background in art and I’m jumping into it and I’m leading this gallery and I’m in charge of so much, but what do I have to be here?” And then I worked with a lot of female artists and again, just having those conversations and feeling really validated by the other people in the space. And then that happened again when I got into healthcare tech and I was like, “I have no background in healthcare. Do I belong here?” But finding, again, those strong females in the space and being encouraged by that. I think we’re so programmed to question whether or not we’re enough for that. And where I received that autonomy, it made me realize that organically from the inside out because I was like, “Oh, I achieved this thing and no one handed it to me.” And that confidence just continued to build because of that.

Sonya Palmer:

That’s an excellent point, where when you are avoiding micromanaging and you are granting autonomy and empowerment, not only is that good, but you’re avoiding that negative where people are going to question and doubt and not feel like they’re enough. So it’s a double-edged sword in a great way. You’re solving those. So that’s amazing. And then I have to ask, in marketing, lead generation for lawyers, the intake component is so important because if you don’t have intake dialed in, all that marketing money is wasted. To you, what makes a successful intake team?

Elizabeth Kane:

So I think a lot of it is, and this is again another through line, is just really that communication but also recognizing that there is no one snapshot in time where you can take care of everything. And again, that’s where CrossX comes in. So if you’ve got a team that’s empathetic, that’s listening, that’s asking the right questions, because everyone around you is a teacher. And so no matter what position you’re in, no matter what your title is, no matter how much you think you know about something, the other person has something to teach you. An intake, think you have all the right questions, but really just listening to that person, you may learn something or have to pivot or have a better relationship with them because you took the time to do so. Not everyone is a dual rep at that point. Even with the best intake centers, even with all of those best practices in place, that only takes care of that one moment.
And how do you ensure that that plaintiff that you’ve now spent that money on and you’ve got all these great standard practices in place and whatever, how do you ensure that going forward for either you or for the firm? And that’s where, again, CrossX comes in. And you may have done a wonderful job listening and being empathetic and creating that relationship with that plaintiff from day one, but everything beyond that still is somewhat out of your control. And I’ve just seen it with firms like, again, plaintiffs becoming confused, forgetting who they signed up with, another family member becomes involved or whatever the case may be. And how, again, all those resources have now been put into this person. How do you maintain that relationship in a way that doesn’t require self-reporting from them? And so yeah, it’s just again, this sort of beautiful recognition of there isn’t one reason that these things happen, there’s not one way to take care of them. And you’re not going to catch all the fish with that one lore and you’ve got to have something that that’s this umbrella solution.

Sonya Palmer:

What’s next for you and Cross-Ex?

Elizabeth Kane:

We’re doing a lot of conferences and a lot of traveling. And so next week I’m in New York and then I’m in DC, and I think we’re very focused on growth and adoption. We are offering our first tort camp], free to firms that are doing so. We want to prove the concept of this to firms. And we’ve recognized that that’s a tort where there’s a very high probability of dual reps and that is potential to be a major source of frustration for firms and a major source of lost capital and wanting to solve for that. So really very focused on the growth of CrossX through offering, again, camp for free to firms, but also just getting exposure and getting the visibility because again, firms aren’t expecting this, I don’t believe, because it’s something that no one’s been able to tackle before.
So getting out there, getting on the conferences, making people aware that the solution exists, and then setting up those conversations again where I’m doing as much listening as talking and saying, “How are dual reps affecting your firm specifically? What resources do you put into your plaintiffs? How have you addressed these things in the past?” And then showing how again, we can turn those dials, and we can make this solution fit their firm. So that’s the main focus and I’m very excited about that and growing our team as well.

Sonya Palmer:

Yeah, sounds very bright for 2023. So are you a reader? Are you reading anything right now?

Elizabeth Kane:

I am a reader and I always balance, this is funny, a book that is something that I don’t have to focus on so much, with a book that is more academic. So I’m reading a great book on MDL reform, reading the Dissenting Opinion on that. And then my more fun book is the Over Story. I’m a big outdoors nature person. That’s where I get all of my relaxation and let all my mental filing happening, is outdoors. And so that’s just something to keep me interested there as well.

Sonya Palmer:

Yeah, I read that earlier this year. It was wonderful. So it was a surprise. Yeah, it would never have showed up on my radar, but it was wonderful. I was surprised at how I found it difficult to put down.

Elizabeth Kane:

Yeah. And I liked how each story had its own theme and its own characters and then it moved on to the next one. But that thread of nature and being aware of your surroundings and how some things are very permanent, and then other things are not, was really wonderful.

Sonya Palmer:

And I always think people should read things that they don’t agree with necessarily. I think critical thinking sharpens critical thinking, which is super important.

Elizabeth Kane:

Absolutely.

Sonya Palmer:

And then you’re obviously very busy launching a company, growing a company. What do you do when you need to chill out? You mentioned outdoors. Is there anything else?

Elizabeth Kane:

Yeah. It’s the opposite of what most people would think. So I have a couple ways in which I do so. One is I’m part of a great running community and one that’s very inclusive and one that focuses more on the social aspect of running rather than the competitive aspect of it. And it’s headed up by two really wonderful tenacious women in the area that I live. And they have three different runs a week that you can drop in and join. And so when I’m here and I’m available, I hop in there. We had one last night, it was wonderful. And then I also spend … I’m fortunate to split my time between two different places in New Hampshire that have activities that are really soothing to me. And one is up in the White Mountains and I do a lot of hiking and camping on the weekends up here, and then the other in Portsmouth.
I do some sailing in the summer and really, really enjoy that. So it’s these beautiful landscapes in these places where you can just let, like I said, that mental filing happen. So all the busyness in your brain, give yourself a platform to let all those things settle and work out. And I’ve had some of my biggest eureka moments when I’ve just been walking down a trail and everything’s really quiet and I’m not even thinking about work, but it will just pop up into my head and I’ve given myself a really great, great idea or great solution to a problem by just stepping out of my little home office and into that.

Sonya Palmer:

Even the most empathetic teams that have the best practices in place deal with thousands of clients in mass torts, and dual reps are an inevitability. But solutions like CrossX can help take the guesswork out of the equation. A huge thank you to Elizabeth Kane for sharing her story and unbelievable insights with us today. You have been listening to LawHER with me, Sonya Palmer. If you’ve found this content insightful, inspiring, or it just made you smile, please share this episode with the trailblazers in your life. For more about Elizabeth, check out our show notes. And while you’re there, please leave us a review or a five-star rating. It really goes a long way for others to discover the show. And I will see you next week on LawHER, where we’ll shed light on how another of the brightest and boldest women in the legal industry climbed to the top of her field.

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