It can be a difficult question to answer. All providers claim that they supply efficient legal software, but how do you really know?
There are several key areas to look at when considering this issue. The key ones being:
Let’s start with the basics. If your software spends a disproportionate amount of time out of action, alarm bells should start ringing. There are two aspects to this issue: software downtime and server downtime.
Most modern practice management software doesn’t fall over easily. However, there are circumstances, such as upgrades, patches and integrations with third party solutions that can lead to problems. The choice of software is a critical one for your business and the robustness of the product should be one of your key considerations.
Server downtime is a completely different matter. It happens when the platform upon which your software is hosted fails. This can be due to things such as power and hardware failures, overload or even hacking.
Whatever the case, if your software is hosted on your own servers, they should be modern, contain the latest versions of the software and be maintained regularly. Additionally, if downtime is to be minimised, it is essential to have a robust backup and disaster recovery protocol. It is surprising just how many law firms don’t and the consequences can be literally disastrous. Backups should be taken at least daily and should be stored off-site or in a fireproof safe.
Having your own servers involves regular capital outlays and running and maintenance costs. However, there is an alternative: the cloud. Most modern practice management software can be operated using a cloud platform and the benefits of this approach are obvious:
The bad old days of posting the same data between case files and accounts should be long gone. Yet, it is surprising how tasks such as this have survived even with the advent of technology. Many legal practices still use different software packages for practice management and accounting and often, never the twain shall meet.
At the very least, good practice management software should be capable of integrating seamlessly with your accounts software. The better packages on the market are complete systems, designed from the ground up, to include all aspects of case management, time recording and billing and accounts.
These systems remove the need for duplication of effort, save time and money and can be a valuable way of reducing staff overheads and increasing margins.
Lastly, on this point, it is worth considering your use of word-processing and calendar software. Good cloud-based practice management systems come with Microsoft Office licences as part of the subscription. This means that you can store Word documents, Outlook emails and calendar entries within the case file itself. This removes the need for the duplication of MS Office files and emails and lends itself to easier administration and availability of all pertinent case documents.
Many types of transactional legal work, by their nature, involve a series of repetitive tasks. A key consideration when choosing a new system should be its ability to build-in customised workflows.
When you configure your case management software you should have the option to establish workflows as rigidly or as fluidly as you see fit. The system will allow you to:
Workflow management is ideally suited for structured transactional work. It’s not appropriate for all types of legal practice, but where it is, it can bring efficiencies and cost savings which will make a big difference to the bottom line. You can also use workflows to help you improve consistency and capture expert knowledge of how to do things.
Even the best systems are only as good as the people who operate them. This fact is often overlooked when choosing a new practice management system.
It’s not just a case of buying the software and installing it or paying your cloud licence fee; training and support are integral to the package. Good suppliers will include comprehensive initial training for your staff as part of the deal so it’s worth checking out what is on offer.
The same supplies to ongoing support. There are always going to be days when things don’t go to plan and it is then that you will need expert assistance and guidance. Again, is sensible to check out how the support package works. Is it based in the UK? What are its available times? Does the vendor of the software provide the support or is it outsourced?
When it comes to choosing efficient legal software, there are many factors to consider, but these really are the key points that should assist you to make an informed decision.
If you would like to find out more about how LawWare can help, please contact us.
© LawWare Limited 2016-2017
Our clients range from small start-up legal practices to multi-partner, multi-site firms.
As the first commercial user of LawWare back in 1998, we have had no hesitation in remaining with the product through its development. We thoroughly recommend it to any firm looking for a practice management system.
The helpdesk is exceptionally good. Whatever the query there is always a human being there to help. No leaving messages or being advised to go to a website. The best computer service for solicitors I have ever used!
The linking of documents and casefiles saves so much time! I have experience of several accounts packages and I like that LawWare is simple to use and easy to learn. Support is quick and effective and staff are helpful and courteous.
I have worked with a number of Case Management providers over the years but have not come across anything with the attention to detail and thoroughness of LawWare. My colleagues and I have not been disappointed.
I can’t imagine trying to be a law firm in the 21st Century without 21st Century IT systems. Having a ‘single system’ that underpins all the work, whether we are in the office or out, is an integral part of what we are building.
The level of support is the main benefit using this system. The system itself once you have had training is simple and easy to use. We have a great relationship with LawWare and the ongoing support is second to none.
Significant preparation was required to configure and import the data from our old firm. We had to get all clients onto the new system and then learn how to use it. We just find it very easy to use, much easier than our old system.
It’s a big help that you can speak to the boss directly. The support team takes a lot of the technological stress away and, as LawWare continues to build relationships and integrations with other suppliers, it makes our life much easier.
Being a busy litigator with a growing firm it is incredibly useful to be able to view my files from any location with some form of internet connection. I am a fan, and want to keep working with LawWare to make a good product great.
The switch to the new LawCloud system, which is still on-going, has gone very well. We found the LawWare team without exception to be very helpful and knowledgeable. All queries are followed up and dealt with promptly.