Case Study: Napoli Shkolnik PLLC

On a hunt for detailed searches at a bargain price


As a national personal injury law firm advocating on behalf of clients in cases ranging from automobile collisions to corporate negligence, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC is tasked with uncovering cost-efficient ways to find the people they need in order to win cases. The problem is that many skip-tracing products are often very expensive while offering a low to mediocre rate of valid data. The Director of Investigations at the firm, Trevelyan Howe, has used various popular search products such as Westlaw and LexisNexis. He found that they offered data that may have been valid at some point in the past but had gone stale by the time he accessed it.

“The biggest problem I face is accuracy,” Mr. Howe said. “I don’t want to have to look in more than one place for a search if I don’t have to, so, if one application is better than another, I stick with that one.”

Benefit: Up-to-date data

For personal injury lawyers attempting to locate witnesses, defendants, property owners, defendants’ assets and missing clients, the freshness and accuracy of data discovered during a search is critical to the success of their cases. When a personal injury lawyer is unable to quickly find usable data on a search target, he or she can lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars in time and effort. Mr. Howe found that products such as Locate Plus and Westlaw were expensive, while also failing to deliver the most updated data available. So, he went looking for a product that would serve as a strong weapon in the law firm’s search arsenal, and he discovered that Tracers was more accurate than other search engines.

“The biggest benefit of using Tracers is that they update their databases regularly,” Trevelyan said. “So, it is very timely in terms of the information that they provide. If I am using Westlaw or Lexis, I can often tell the information is old, and it is just not useful if it is old.”

There is a certain amount of unnecessary stress put on any personal injury attorney when they are constantly second-guessing their search products. Mr. Howe understands that to really be worth the financial investment, a search engine must consistently produce up-to-date and accurate results.

Benefit: High-quality searches, lower cost

When Mr. Howe began working with Napoli Shkolnik, which has twelve offices across the country, the personal injury law firm was using Westlaw and Lexis for the majority of their searches. Having used Tracers at a previous law firm, he knew they could get better quality search results at a much lower cost. He insisted the law firm switch over to Tracers due to the high value the product delivers.

“I have been using Tracers now for 10 to 11 years. I have used other search tools and they do not compare,” he said. “It is rare that I need to do this but, if I do not find what I am looking for on Tracers, my next step would be to hire a local private investigator and go knock on doors. Basically, there is a threshold where you have exhausted all your resources, and that is when I need to outsource the search.”

Mr. Howe’s ability to depend on Tracers’ high rate of accuracy and up-to-date databases is the result of Tracers’ decades of data expertise. Since 1996, Tracers has been supplying businesses with data and intelligence. Mr. Howe appreciates Tracers’ excellent customer service and their commitment to combining powerful search technology with cutting-edge innovation.

Benefit: Simple user interface

While Trevelyan found the cost-effectiveness and accuracy of Tracers to be its most beneficial features for the Napoli Shkolnik law firm, he also found great benefit in Tracers’ easy-to-use interface and the ability to reconcile searches to clients and cases. 

Mr. Howe currently conducts the bulk of his searches himself, while previously he had a large team of private investigators using Tracers. The user-friendly layout of the Tracers interface made it easy for him to train the investigators.

Benefit: Case reconciliation

Personal injury attorneys who conduct a lot of searches need the ability to apply the search costs to the case. Thus, it is important that the search tool makes it easy to reconcile searches with specific cases and clients. This is one of the features that Mr. Howe believes adds significant value to the Tracers product.

“When I have multiple people using a search account, reconciling is tedious on other programs. With Tracers, you enter the case information once, and the system delivers the reconciliation reports you need.”

And since Tracers makes it easy to itemize searches for a specific case, passing on that cost maximizes the law firm’s savings.

“At one point, I was supervising a pretty big team of investigators and it was easy to train the investigators to use Tracers. It is intuitive in terms of how you search. Everything is hyperlinked, so, if I want to look up a telephone number in a search, I can. The ease of training is important, especially when I am training new PIs. You want a system that is seamless and foolproof, and the Tracers search engine is pretty foolproof.”

Trevelyan Howe, Director of Investigations, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC