It’s been more than 20 years since the Supreme Court recognized and speci- fied that in class action litigation, class members must receive notification and have an opportunity to both be heard and participate in the litigation. Rule 23, while covering virtually all aspects of correct and legal procedures for any class action suit, carefully outlines the intricacies of this all-important step.
The second most important aspect, at least to class members, is the eventual payment if and when the case is ruled in their favor. Considering all the financial, physical and mental investments firms devote to these major cases, it only makes sense that they need an organized, trustworthy and highly competent company to oversee the aforementioned duties.
Phoenix Class Action Administrators is a value-driven company, enriched with years of successful class action case management, secure data custody and extensive experience serving as a neutral communication team. Headed up by President and Managing Partner Michael Moore and Vice President of Business Development Jodey Lawrence, Phoenix has steadily grown over the last few years, building a solid and impeccable reputation for delivery of client expectations, expert industry consultation, secure data resources and emerging technologies in noticing, as well as class identification and media planning.
From initial case pre-consultation and class member notification, to its award-winning distribution process, taxing and case conclusion, Phoenix delivers superior support services in an ongoing drive to achieve the highest level of outcome.
“We actually have to be brought forward by the plaintiff or defense, and then must be appointed by the court,” says Moore. “It takes a while to get recognized by all the courts. We had to complete a lot of declarations of competency when we first started.”
As noted, it can be a long and arduous process to get such a service up and running, but Moore and Lawrence had a distinct advantage — both had been working in the industry for years, and had built such stellar reputations that they quite literally had clients lining up before they were actually ready for business.
“Our clients knew us from our previous companies and were quick to come on board,” says Lawrence. “Now in our fourth successful year, we’re really gathering a good head of steam. Our clients are happy with the service we provide and we continue to find ways to provide even better service.”
CLIENTS MADE ME DO IT!
Moore and Lawrence each brought unique and distinctive skillsets to Phoenix. For Moore, whose background included work with another class action settlement firm, the move to creating Phoenix was prompted by clients who, while extremely happy with his service and level of competency, had grown dissatisfied with the company for whom he worked.
“My clients made me do it,” he says with a laugh. “They weren’t happy with the firm I was at, and said, ‘Why don’t you just start your own, and we’ll give you our business.’ So I took the plunge, left the firm I was with and went on a week-long vacation. And when I returned, I had cases waiting for me.
“I’ll be honest, I did not want to start another company,” he continues earnestly. “I’d been down that route before with a 30-plus-employee health care consulting firm, and I really did not want to start a company again. But I had about eight very good, very loyal attorneys who finally convinced me.”
For his part, Lawrence’s background includes working as an administrator for a law firm, so he knows exactly what clients need and what they are looking for.
“I think one of the unique advantages of our company is that I come from a working-class law firm,” he says. “In fact, I met Mike when was he would come into our firm and try to earn our business. We quickly established a relationship with him and liked using his service.
“Having the experience of working within a law firm on class action cases, I know how I like to see our vendors perform, so we can preemptively provide service without our clients having to ask,” he adds. “Modeling our services on what I would have liked coupled with Mike’s experience in actually providing that service and making things happen effectively and smoothly; it’s a winning combination.”
Phoenix maintains a philosophy of providing only superior service on all cases large or small. Providing expert management, the seamless process maintains outstanding case continuity to ensure every client receives timely final approval.
Of course, this is what is expected of a respected firm such as Phoenix. What is unexpected, and is just another aspect that sets them apart, is their “small business” mentality and flexibility.
“First of all,” says Moore, “we only hire senior people for the most responsible positions. Our associates are learning from these more advanced team members. The beauty of what we offer is not only do we maintain our service at an excellent level, but we also train our individuals with the same mantra. Nobody here will ever say, ‘It’s not my department.’ If they aren’t trained in the area, they will locate the case information and handle that situation.”
“Another factor,” adds Lawrence, “is that we have a fixed overhead. So, we have senior people in operational roles, handling the day-to-day business with our clients. Because of their knowledge and experience, they can handle more and can preemptively respond when they see a problem.
Lawrence adds, “We have the unique advantage of being able to meet our clients’ needs and be flexible to every type of settlement. For instance, if a client comes to us with a very lean settlement, we have the flexibility to work with them on that settlement. We don’t have one price or the attitude that we’ll only work at a certain rate. We don’t have that kind of corporate mandate, we are willing to work with the attorneys to ultimately help the victims in these class action suits. That’s kind of where we plant our flag.”
Both principals of Phoenix subscribe to what they refer to as the “Nordstrom Philosophy.” Anyone who has ever shopped this elite department store is aware of the level of excellence in both product and customer service afforded.
“When I was working in the health care industry, I read two very impressive books. One was a biography of the Nordstrom’s and the other was ‘If Disney Ran Your Hospital,’” says Moore. “I look at the stories of Nordstrom’s and Disney’s renowned customer service and we’ve more or less adopted a similar philosophy.
“We’re a smaller firm, as far as number of employees, but you wouldn’t know that by working with us.”
Moore goes on to discuss how it’s human nature, when all things being equal, to want to work with friends and people you trust. “Everyone wants to see their friends succeed,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons we wanted to be featured in this magazine. Sarah, the publisher, is good at her job, does what she says she’s going to do, and she’s fair.”
“Customer service comes in many forms,” adds Lawrence. “For us, it means anticipating the needs of our clients and providing those services before they even ask, but additionally it’s how we handle the day-to-day interactions, and how we handle the situation when things go wrong. That’s what really defines your relationship with your clients.”
“That’s true,” adds Moore. “You can always sell people one time. In fact, I can always get someone to try us one time. If we don’t do what I promise, then I have a client one time and a tarnished reputation. No company can survive that.”
MAINTAINING QUALITY-CONTAINING COSTS
Synergy” is a word frequently used by both Moore and Lawrence, as well as their entire staff. That’s because to maintain the seamless flow as well as the exceptional quality, everything and everyone must be working together and toward the same goal.
“Our work environment is ridiculously awesome,” says Moore. “Our people come here, work hard and go home and enjoy their lives. We have people from competitors who have joined us as well as people from other industries that lend that knowledge to our business model. It’s a very freethinking atmosphere.”
One way Phoenix has managed to sustain these high standards and tailoring their services to each individual client’s needs while still offering very competitive rates is by bringing its call center and mailing in house.
“Bringing our call center in-house is one of the many ways we can both maintain our standards of quality assurance while also controlling costs,” says Moore. “Our multilingual call center is just another way we’re providing superior customer service.”
As of the date of this publication, Phoenix is now celebrating its fourth year in business. Launched with a bang Phoenix now has more than 100 attorney and law firm clients benefitting from their cost-effective administrative services, expert noticing processes, sophisticated technology and one of the industry’s most up-to-date data security systems. This up-and-coming boutique-style firm consistently provides successful outcomes with unparalleled quality, accuracy and efficiency under the leadership of Moore and Lawrence and their nearly 20 years of combined experience.