Login | September 30, 2020

All-In-One Practice Management Apps

Technology for Lawyers

Published: September 19, 2014

Many law firms piece together software that they need from multiple sources. But there are companies that provide all-in-one solutions to an entire law office’s needs, so that is always an option.

The ABA’s GP Solo newsletter has a nice overview of this practice management software posted here.

Here are some highlights from the article, which lists functions that a law office should be looking for in this software, and advises, as always, to seek out a consultant before you actually buy anything. You can use this article to frame your questions for the consultant, and to understand what the consultant is talking about.

The first distinction is between back office and front office applications, and then between land-based programs and cloud-based services.

Front office functions, or “running the law part of the law firm,” include matter management, people management, document management, calendaring, docket management, conflict checking, research management, and document automation.

Back office functions, or the business side of the law office, include time keeping, billing, HR functions, and accounting, and should include a “productivity dashboard.”

The article’s comparisons of land-based versus cloud-based practice management programs focuses on advantages and drawbacks of each, acknowledging that cloud services are gaining increasing legal market share.

Traditional practice management software tends to be very complex and expensive, the ABA article says, with a steep learning curve, but also generally offers more power and functionality than the less expensive, simpler and more intuitive cloud-based service.

Traditional software can also be more compatible with an office’s word processing and bookkeeping programs.

And then, of course, there are the dicey issues of cloud security, as well as online data issues of ownership, retrieval and compatibility with office computer programs.

One trend is the creation of an industry of “hosted” practice management software, a sort of hybrid between cloud- and land-based functions, in which the office’s familiar software programs are administered by an company offsite.

The article concludes by saying, accurately, that there are “hundreds” of practice management solutions out there, and links to two pages that have posted comparative charts:

ABA LTRC’s Case/Practice Management Comparison: bitly.com/abapm

Active Practice’s Cloud Practice Management Comparison: activepractice.com/cpm