If you’re a solo attorney, or you’re in charge of a small legal firm, you may find that you spend more time running your business than you do practicing law. Hiring help isn’t the only way to take time-consuming tasks off your plate; you can streamline your operation with software designed specifically for law firms. Software can handle case management, administrative duties and accounting functions so you can focus on your practice. With legal software, you can:
1. Improve client relationships.
2. Improve document management.
3. Improve scheduling.
4. Speed up the billing process.
5. Facilitate accounting tasks.
6. Gain more time to market your services.
Practice managementBasics to look for in practice management software include case management, calendaring, contact management and document management. Some solutions also offer communications management, conflicts checking, barcoding for documents and more.
Time, billing and accountingEvery lawyer knows how tedious it is to track billable hours. Software can simplify this process along with several other time-tracking accounting functions, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, split billing, 1099 reporting and budgeting. Look for software that offers billing solutions whether your firm does contingency, hourly or flat-fee billing.
All-in-one solutionsLooking for a single software solution to handle practice management and time, billing and accounting? Several options geared to smaller firms are available.
A la carte solutionsIf you prefer to cherry pick the solutions you need most, find a provider who offers software on a piecemeal basis.
Web-based applicationsChoosing a Web-based software solution offers a number of advantages. With a simple Internet connection, you can gain 24-7 access to your files from anywhere, whether you're at a client’s office or in court.
Specific practice softwareNo matter which type of law your firm handles—bankruptcy law, corporate law, family law, tax law, immigration law, real estate law, criminal law or some other type—there’s a software solution that fits your needs.
Court rules databasesCourt rules regarding calendaring and deadlines vary from state to state and from one jurisdiction to another. It’s imperative to keep track of these rules, or you risk serious consequences. In fact, according to the American Bar Association, calendaring mistakes and deadline errors are the leading cause of malpractice claims against law firms and attorneys. Look for legal software that offers Federal and/or State court rules databases to assist you in scheduling.
- Consider the cost of upgrades when budgeting for law firm software, especially if you’ll need to upgrade frequently. Web-based applications may include upgrade costs in their monthly fees.
- If you have more than one office, or you work from a home office in addition to your business office, look for solutions that offer multi-office features.
- Make sure your legal software integrates with any other software programs you’re using.