Have you ever logged into a piece of software and something instantly clicked? So much so that you say to yourself; “This was made for me!”
Within five minutes of my first walk-through of NextChapter I knew that’s how so many paralegals and attorneys would feel when they started using it.
The Bankruptcy space hasn’t seen a ton of innovation happen, until a few years ago. And, like most solutions they are born out of the frustration of a user. Who finally gets motivated enough to build something on their own.
That’s the story behind NextChapter. Founder and CEO, Janine Sickmeyer, who I had the pleasure of meeting years ago at Clio Cloud Conference is so passionate about her product it’s infectious. Why?
Because, Janine was a Bankruptcy Paralegal. Who finally got so fed up, she took classes on coding, put a business plan together and built what is today one of the only solutions capable of filing Bankruptcy petitions on the web.
But it’s not just the software that makes NextChapter unique. It’s their approach to pricing, with four tiers of pricing for law firms of every size. What many providers don’t understand is that bankruptcy can be a full time, high volume practice or something an attorney does occasionally. Price begins at a per case rate, perfect for a solo just starting out, and works its way up three more tiers to their ‘WHOA’ level for large multi-location bankruptcy law firms.
Move back and forth between plans, which is great for high season focused law firms that receive a majority of their work around tax season.
Which brings me to another talking point.
Bankruptcy law firms are unique in the sense that the more locations they have the higher likelihood of success. Potential clients are easier to attract and convert when there’s an office right around the corner. So, mobility is key.
NextChapter allows the lawyer to; “Go where the work is!” Paralegals, receptionists and multiple offices are all using the same system to enter data.
Now, let’s get into the fun part. How it works!
First, the major difference in the data entry is NextChapter’s linear case format. Which if you have ever used other bankruptcy programs it can feel like you’re filling out form, after form, after form. Instead, enter the information needed for a Chapter 7, 13, or an 11 (Individual or Corporate) and the software maps it to every location within the petition that it should be listed.
Depending on the structure of your law firm you are either doing everything yourself, or you are monitoring the work of a bankruptcy paralegal. For your own use, keep up with your tasks by using a pre-built checklist of documents you need to collect from each of your clients. Add additional items as needed, and reference your notes in one secure place.
If it’s the latter you can add comments for the paralegal to review, see the status of the document collection checklist and preview the petition at any time.
Bonus! Built in calculators.
One of the most impressive feature sets within Next Chapter is the list of built in calculators. Especially the flexibility of the Chapter 13 Plan builder which gives you the option to input what your client can pay. Plug in all claims, and assets then work backwards to create a plan that meets their budget. This alone saves Chapter 13 attorneys a ton of time compared to calculating and re-calculating plans from scratch.
Other specialty features for Chapter 13 filers include, receipt printouts and easy to read plan packages, to keep you and your Trustees happy.
The ever-important Means Test.
Where nearly all Chapter 7 Bankruptcies begin. A simple input screen guides you down the standard list of fields, after each input providing a ‘green thumbs up, or red thumbs down’ status. Green thumbs up results indicate no presumption of abuse and you are clear to begin their filing.
Upload plans to local district courts, most districts are available rural areas continue to be added on a regular basis. NextChapter includes unlimited document storage at all levels, and unlimited districts and users at the annual plan price.
The team isn’t stopping at software! They recognize the need for add on services like on demand Bankruptcy Paralegals, a client debtor portal with data clean up tools and more.
Finally, what if you need help? My demo was delivered by Mandy a rock star Bankruptcy paralegal, who works to support clients over the phone and via the live chat which remains open all day.
I wish Janine and her growing team much success and commend her for all these years of hard work. Well done, superwoman and supermom!