Intro: Cerenade is distinguished in offering an internal e-forms technology in its legal products, eIMMIGRATION and eCMS
- Cerenade is the only legal case management software provider in multiple practice areas, including immigration, to have developed its own e-forms (“electronic forms”) engine technology, allowing for the production of WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) HTML forms. WYSIWYG refers to the highest fidelity, most realistic digital e-forms – our forms can essentially be interacted with in every way that their paper counterparts can on any device, browser, platform.
- Competing legal case management software providers are required to license third-party technologies if they want to offer forms management capabilities, often resulting in less comprehensive, robust, and secure functionality, higher costs (that they pass on to customers), and overall poorer user experiences for their product users.
Cerenade’s unique advantage in developing this technology stems in part from our historical trajectory. Before shifting our primary focus to the legal sector, we dedicated our expertise to serving form-intensive government and corporate clientele, such as the US Department of State, NASA, and HESS Corporation. (Note: enterprise grade e-forms solutions are still used by and available for such clients.)
As it turns out, our e-forms technology has been as (if not more) useful for legal professionals, and offering the technology within our legal products enables users with a variety of key benefits that we will cover in this blog post.
Table of Contents
Benefit: Flexible Client Intake via Questionnaires and Online Editable Forms
Cerenade legal products offer users with both questionnaires as well as online editable forms for client intake. This flexible optionality enables users with a variety of advantages based on preferences.
- Questionnaires: Cerenade equips its users with robust yet easy-to-use questionnaire capabilities for client intake, including both pre-loaded templates as well as the ability to create custom questionnaires. Most legal case management platforms offer some type of questionnaire intake capability.
- Online editable forms: Cerenade’s e-forms technology enables caseworkers to send their clients online editable forms – this means that clients can directly interact (read, fill, sign, edit, and more) with copies of forms on any device / platform / browser as if they were their paper counterparts. As mentioned, Cerenade is the only legal case management software provider to have built its own proprietary e-forms technology to offer in its legal products.
Overwhelmingly, competing legal case management software providers heavily market their questionnaire functionality for all client intake use cases. While questionnaires do have some advantageous use cases, the reality is that such providers are attempting to mask the fact that they do not have an internal e-forms technology for online editable forms. Such competing software providers therefore either rely on third-party form solutions – which are often less secure, less functional, and more cost prohibitive for clients’ use – or outright do not offer online editable forms and deprive their users of critical productivity gains (see more on this below).
Cerenade has offered both of these client intake options – questionnaires and online editable forms – for nearly two decades. After working with thousands of legal professionals, we have assessed optimal use cases for both to maximize productivity:
- When beginning to work with a client, use questionnaires to collect their general biographic data (e.g., address, date of birth, marital status). This is a quick and easy way to get started with a client, and as questionnaire data is loaded into the client’s profile, it can be used later for form / petition data population, reporting + data analysis, and other client / case needs.
- Thereafter, when having a client fill out a specific form (e.g., form N400 from the USCIS), you can provide them with either questionnaires or an online editable copy of the form. Which you choose ultimately depends on your caseworker preferences – while some caseworkers prefer to only work with questionnaires, we have observed that most prefer to work directly online editable forms due to five key reasons:
- 1. Less error-prone: In directly interacting with an online editable form, the form that a client fills out will be directly submitted to its corresponding body (e.g., USCIS). Whereas in working with questionnaires, there is an extra step – the transferring of data between questionnaires and forms – where erroneous data population could occur. The likelihood of such errors is particularly pronounced in practice areas like immigration, where form versions are regularly updated and the associations between questionnaires and their corresponding forms are broken. Legal professionals switching to eIMMIGRATION/eCMS from other software often complain about this as being a major pain point with their former software.
- 2. More efficient and less redundant for caseworkers: In direct interaction with online editable forms, the caseworker is tasked with reviewing the form – that’s it. Whereas if there is a questionnaire involved, then the caseworker needs to review both the questionnaire and the form to ensure that all of the questionnaire data is sensible and populated correctly on the form.
- 3. Less education / training required for caseworkers: Caseworkers are already familiar with forms in their areas of practice (e.g., immigration attorneys know what an N-400 looks like). Whereas a questionnaire requires learning two resources (a form and its associated questionnaire), working directly with online editable forms allows legal professionals to only focus on learning one resource – the form itself.
- 4. More efficient for clients: In direct interaction with online editable forms, clients can benefit from pre-populated form values that come from their client profile. (This is why we recommend using a questionnaire when beginning to work with a client to gather their background / biographical information – the combination of these two intake methods yields major productivity gains!)
- 5. More feature-rich and centralized for clients: As clients are directly interacting with online editable forms, they can take advantage of enhanced on-form functionality, such Cerenade’s e-Signature, all from one place.
Again, Cerenade’s eIMMIGRATION and eCMS include robust questionnaire capabilities for users who prefer questionnaires over direct interaction with online editable forms. We simply take pride in offering our product users both methods, whereas our competitors do not have the e-forms technology to offer direct interaction with online editable forms.
Benefit: On-Form Features
Cerenade’s e-forms technology doesn’t stop at client intake; it offers numerous on-form features that benefit caseworkers both before intake (e.g., during form preparation) and after intake (e.g., during form review). These features include optional data population logic, smart field manipulation and value substitution, and addendum auto-creation and override. For a detailed demonstration of these features and more, don’t hesitate to contact our team.
Benefit: Robust Version Control
Our e-forms technology empowers Cerenade eIMMIGRATION and eCMS users with robust version control. This unique feature allows users to access or edit different versions of a form over time. Users have praised this capability, especially those who’ve previously dealt with more limited version control functionality on other platforms. Unlike other systems that restrict access to recent form versions, our solution enables users to access form versions from any time period since the form’s inception.
Benefit: Enhanced Data Security
Cerenade’s legal products and internal electronic forms technology are uniquely distinguished in terms of security relative to competing solutions which rely on third-party (external) e-forms technology vendors. An internal e-forms technology provides for considerably enhanced data security since form data does not need to travel (and potentially be intercepted by a malicious party) between the case management vendor’s infrastructure and a third-party form engine vendor’s infrastructure. Further, once the form data sits within the third-party vendor’s infrastructure, the third-party can exploit the form data for its own benefit, go on to share / sell form data with other (unauthorized) vendors, or in a less malicious case, can have their infrastructure infiltrated and data stolen by a hacker / malware all while the case management user has no idea. Preventing third-party vendors from accessing confidential form data keeps Cerenade liable and fortifies the security of law firm + client data.
Cerenade places a strong emphasis on data security, setting our legal products and internal e-forms technology apart from solutions that rely on third-party (external) e-forms technology vendors. With our internal e-forms technology, form data remains within Cerenade’s secure infrastructure, minimizing the risk of interception by malicious parties. It also prevents third-party vendors from accessing confidential form data, further fortifying the security of law firm and client data.
Demo: See Cerenade’s e-forms technology and legal case management products in action
Cerenade’s e-forms technology has revolutionized legal case management by offering advanced functionality, user-friendly options, and robust data security. See it in action with our award-winning products:
- eIMMIGRATION: Cerenade’s eIMMIGRATION, built for immigration legal professionals, includes the largest library of immigration forms with our e-forms technology and all of the form management benefits listed in this blog post. Schedule an eIMMIGRATION demo today to learn more.
- eCMS: Cerenade’s eCMS, built for all legal professionals, includes all California Judicial Council court forms and many California county forms with our e-forms technology and all of the form management benefits listed in this blog post. Schedule an eCMS demo today to learn more.