What is legal practice management software?
Simply put, law practice management software (LPMS) is a digital solution that covers everything you need to run your firm, including:
— Financial management
— Case/matter management
— Staff and HR needs
— Client management
— Office operations
The right solution can help you streamline every aspect of your firm’s operations so your firm can focus more on your clients.
Are multiple tools hindering your operations?
These questions can help you decide if now is the right time to invest in legal technology:
1. Does your team have trouble sharing and reconciling case information across multiple systems and applications?
You can’t afford for documents to get lost, misplaced, or misfiled. The best legal solutions operate as a central hub for all client, calendaring, task, and billing information — tying everything to a single case record. The better your access, management, and control, the more time your staff and attorneys will have to do their jobs.
2. Does your firm spend too much time on invoices and other legal accounting chores?
Timesheets don’t lie. Tasks like collecting payments and generating invoices eat up huge chunks of hours—and they’re completely non-billable. The right legal practice management software will free up everyone’s time for more productive (and profitable) work.
3. Does your firm waste too much energy on recurring tasks that could be easily automated?
Onboarding new clients is a repetitive exercise involving multiple PDFs, emails, signatures, and phone calls. It’s an ideal task to automate. Document management is another manual process that’s a major drain on your time. A good legal software solution will automate it as well, making it easier to generate, assemble and pre-fill documents — using templates that automatically pull information from client and case records. Scheduling, off-boarding, billing, and invoicing are other processes that are perfect candidates for automation.
4. Can your attorneys easily access important information outside the office?
With so many attorneys and staff working from homes and courtrooms, secure access is critical. The right legal software solution will enable everyone to work from anywhere on virtually any device, while meeting the security standards that clients and bar associations demand.
How to choose the right legal practice management software for your firm
In the cloud or on the premises?
Once you’ve decided that you need a purpose-built solution, you’ll need to determine whether you want that solution based on premise or in the cloud. Here’s what to consider.
Cloud-based practice management software
Hosted in the cloud—and available through your web browser or mobile application—a cloud-based solution enables you to access information on almost any device, wherever there’s an internet connection. With AbacusNext, you’ll have immediate backup: every piece of information is stored immediately on our three servers, so you know you’re protected in case of hardware failure.
Security is often a major concern when considering a cloud-based system.The best practice management solutions address that concern by using encryption, firewalls and filtering routers.
On-premise practice management solutions
Most legal software solutions are cloud-based, but some firms prefer to keep theirs on-premise.
In this scenario , your firm sets up a server. You’ll have to buy licenses and pay installation fees for each individual user. Often, firms will back up data to a central, shared file server, using the provider’s private cloud to host and manage it.
With a private cloud environment like AbacusNext Private Cloud (APC), your attorneys and staff will have access to their case files, client data, and applications anytime, from anywhere. Without it, however, they’ll need to be in the office to access information, including sharing and backing up data.
The on-premise software’s cost is typically a one-time fee, but subscription fees are becoming more common. Additional charges can also include fees for installation, server set-up and update (unless subscribing to a private cloud), support, and license renewals.
Remote capabilities are no longer a luxury
2020 made it clear: as more and more firms went remote, accessibility became an absolute necessity.
“It’s been great to know that when other firms were trying to find a solution when COVID occurred, that there was literally no change for us.”
When all your pertinent case, client, and court data is easily accessible on any device, from any location you’re always prepared to better serve your clients.
Some LPMS solutions offer browser-based remote capabilities; others include a dedicated mobile app. And the benefits go beyond access. Remote time tracking and invoicing tools automatically assign hours to the correct cases — ensuring everything is logged and billed correctly.
Will it play nicely with your existing software?
Whatever solution you choose will be central to your technology—but it won’t be your only software. In fact, the best solutions can be customized to your specific practice area(s) and should integrate perfectly with the software you already use.
That said, the fewer platforms you have to integrate, the more smoothly your unified practice management solution will run. The ideal balance is a core system that integrates seamlessly with software like O365, Quickbooks, and Docusign to form a complete solution.
A key question: how good is the training?
The solution you choose will only be as good as the training that comes with it. Without effective training, you’ll have wasted a lot of money right out of the gate. Worse, if your attorneys don’t get adequate training, they may devise shortcuts and workarounds that increase the chance of human error. So make sure you consider the following:
- Is training provided by knowledgeable experts?
- Will you get hit with extra fees if you want more in-depth training, or a quicker response from support?
- Does the vendor distinguish between adoption (introductory) training and troubleshooting support? (We do!)
- Is the software intuitive—easy to navigate and understand?
- Will the solution integrate with your existing technology? Does it offer mobile applications?
Superior security and compliance
A custom legal solution offers significant security advantages over more general or disparate software. You’ll find it easier to:
- Comply with federal, state and local retention requirements
- Control access to information on a user-by-user basis
And since cloud-based solutions automatically back up data and install security updates, they’re less vulnerable to cyberattacks than on-premise solutions.
Here’s what you should expect from your legal practice management software
Now that we’ve discussed the essential capabilities, here are features your legal technology solution should have.
Case & client management
syncs everything — including client/attorney interactions — to a single case record for easy organization and access to information.
Task & calendar management
makes it easier for your attorneys to stay organized and on top of important court and filing deadlines with automated task management and legal calendaring.
Communication & collaboration tools
Native communication and collaboration tools — like video conferencing and document sharing — make remotely interacting with both clients and fellow attorneys a breeze.
empowers you to access your documents in one place with a single click—using the data in your client matters to accurately and efficiently automate legal documents.
Billing & accounting tools
make tracking your time easy. You can carefully manage the billing process and deliver invoices through email with electronic payments.
Online payment technology
enables your firm to accept credit card and other electronic payments online—and get paid faster.
Time & expense tracking
when integrated with accounting and billing tools, saves valuable staff and attorney time.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the past, law firms have used accounting, time and billing, case management, and calendaring software to run their firm. Today, modern firms use legal technology like legal practice management software that combines all the capabilities above into a single system.
Legal practice management software is a comprehensive platform that empowers attorneys to support, manage, and grow their firms. It combines all the common types of legal technology into one, powerful system.
The best practice management systems have purpose-built features that allow you to customize your software depending on your practice area(s). The AbacusNext platforms can be customized for eight different areas; Family Law, Civil Litigation, Real Estate Law, Estate Planning, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Immigration, and Employment Law.