Michael E. Byczek, Technical Consultant
Michael E. Byczek

Software for Law Firms and Case Management


Law practice management software (also known as case management) is used to manage the life cycle of a legal matter through technology. This includes client/matter management; legal calendaring and tasks; contacts and business development; email and phone call management; document management; document automation; knowledge management; time and expenses; billing, collections, and trust; accounting integration; and conflict checks.

MyCase

Designed to manage cases, track time, billing, and communicate with clients through bank-grade law firm security on Amazon EC2 cloud servers with S3 backup. Data transmission is encrypted with 128-bit SSL and storage with 256-bit AES encryption.

The software is adaptable to any practice area. An online word processor allows instant collaboration. MyCase offers integration with QuickBooks Online to sync accounting data. The legal document management feature allows attorneys to upload any number of files to create an office library of documents to share with clients.

Key features: one platform to organize contact and case information; encrypted messages; online payments; professional invoices; find crucial documents; billable hours; analyze data associated with office effectiveness; and sharable calendars.

Legal Files

Designed to manage cases and matters, email, documents, contact information, e-billing, invoice management, and automated office workflows. Used by law firms, corporate legal departments, university legal departments, insurance companies, and government agencies.

Business users can administer the software without technical resources using a perpetual license. Adaptable to any type of matter or file. A contract management feature allows management during every phase of a contractual lifecycle.

Key features include custom file menus; automatic email notification; management of outside counsel activities; track expenses; text searches; paperless office; standardized reports; integration with Microsoft Office; pleadings index; and court docketing.

Abacus Data Systems (Abacus Law)

Designed to mitigate security risks by moving local IT infrastructure, confidential business data, and critical applications to the dedicated Abacus cloud. The company offers a technology readiness assessment to understand how a law firm operates with time, billing, bookkeeping, and accounting options.

Document management capabilities allow an unlimited number of files. Signature-ready documents can be created quickly through automatic template completion. Client communication is tracked through email, phone messages, and instant messaging. Credit card payments are processed with techniques to avoid trust account violations.

Key features: auto-fill documents and court forms; schedule civil procedure rules; dashboard access to an entire case; intake screens; case status; Microsoft Outlook-like calendaring system; automatic scheduling based on state, federal, or local rules; check conflict of interests; and works alongside Microsoft Office 365.

Security features: two-factor authentication; five tiers of physical, network, and data security; NIST standards; SSAE 16 compliant, SOC 1, 2 data centers; Arbor Networks PeakFlow traffic protection and management system to prevent DDoS attacks; Digitus Biometric locking system; continuous monitoring with predefined access lists; physical data center is protected by a perimeter fence and gates that require pin code access; an armed security team with night vision cameras; and a fire detection system that uses FM-200 gas without impact on the servers.

Clio

Offers everything needed to run a law practice from intake to invoice: manage cases, clients, documents, bills, appointments, time, reports, and accounting.

Security is bank-grade through 256-bit SSL encryption; SSAE 16 compliant data centers; geo-redundant backups; and third party security audits. McAfee is used for the daily security audits to prevent vulnerabilities and online threats. Data transmission is validated by Norton Secured (Symantec).

Key features: structure workflows; schedule meetings; share documents with clients; professional looking bills; integration with QuickBooks Online; keep track of trust and IOLTA accounts; track every second spent conducting case research using a timer in the Fastcase law library; share documents with clients; and sync with Google and Microsoft Office 365 Business.

Rocket Matter

Designed to offer up to 30% more billable hours, in-depth reporting and accounting, and a 20% boost in productivity. Offers a branded site where clients, colleagues, and opposing counsel can access documents.

Reports to identify who brings in the most business; client payments; allocate payroll based on revenues; set a budget for particular matters; who tracks the most time; difference between billable and non-billable time; and productivity. These analytics can be imported into Microsoft Excel as CSV files.

Case management options include automated workflows through templates; assign tasks; custom calendar views; workloads; and pending tasks. Visitors to the firm website send form contact massages automatically to the appropriate individual for a response.

Features include reduced invoice production; more accurate billing; check the status of client funds for withdrawals; drag-and-drop document management system; add billable time while uploading documents; manage and sync email messages; instant conflict checking; and one-click document creation.

PracticeMaster (Tabs3)

Designed to organize the aspects of a legal matter that can't be performed with Microsoft Outlook. Reports for details about clients, appointments, to-do lists, and pending assignments can be exported as Microsoft Excel, HTML, or text files.

Security settings allow the ability to restrict particular users to view, enter, edit, or delete information. Sensitive data is protected through access profiles.

Features include: activity timelines; billing summary; calendars; conflict of interest checking; automatically file and name documents for easy management; auto-fill documents; and custom client information collection for different areas of law.

Actionstep

Designed with focus on automating an office workflow for lower costs and hight quality output. Each practice area has custom workflows to follow a prescribed series of steps. Offers a client login portal similar to an online travel booking system to reduce the inbound call volume of clients looking for status updates.

Security features include "secure document exchange" to avoid email messages and attachments from sitting on servers in foreign countries. Files and folders are configured for clients to access along with an audit trail of document access.

The document assembly engine is used to generate documents and email messages by inserting live data into predefined templates. One feature is to automatically count the number of people listed in a document to change pronouns from "he/she" into "they". Documents are searched using full text capabilities. Billable time can be entered through suggestions based on activity lists.

Key features: Automate tasks; book appointments; add notes; generate and store documents; manage customer relationships; create an unlimited number of invoices; track marketing campaigns; organize sales pipeline; integrate with Microsoft Office; full featured double-entry general ledger accounting; reports are exported to Microsoft Excel; and clients send and share documents through an online portal.

Amicus Attorney

Designed for full control and efficiency: matter management; time tracking; document management; business development; client service; automated document drafting; phone call tracking; automated workflows; calendaring; billing; collections; and email management.

Amicus is cloud-based and runs on Windows Azure. Bank-grade security is used for 256-bit encryption. Data is redundantly stored on three severs independent of other law firms. Nobody else can access the data because it is hosted through Microsoft. Amicus does not install any software on a local computer that could be used to gain access to the cloud repository, such as a third person gaining temporary access to a company laptop.

On average, clients that use Amicus Attorney add 5.2 extra billable hours, save 8.6 hours, and generate an additional $1,040 per week.

A separate desktop version is available for law offices that manage their own servers.

CosmoLex

Designed to provide all the tools needed to run a law practice without using QuickBooks: business accounting, legal time and billing, trust and IOLTA accounting, calendars, tasks, documents, and email. Offers an exclusive partnership with Casemaker legal research to track billable time.

All time and expenses are captured in real time. Bills are generated all at one time through automatic invoices with a single click. Built-in accounting features eliminate the errors associated with keeping separate books or systems. Matter management is achieved by keeping all aspects together for a compliance paper trail, accurate billing, and quick answers.

The primary benefit is an accounting system designed specifically for law firms: general ledger, legal-specific charts, check printing, reconciliations, P & L, balance sheets, built-in IOLTA accounting, overdrafts, fee advances, disbursements, and client funds.

Documents are maintained by third party storage providers, such as Dropbox. CosmoLex only provides the management services as a graphical interface. User access is maintained through CosmoLex to prevent former employees from accessing files. Data transmission is protected by bank-grade 256-bit SSL encryption. Data is kept encrypted at all times. U.S.-based servers are used that are SAS 70 compliant data centers. An SMS-based two factor authentication option is used to generate verification codes. McAfee Secure is used to perform daily audits. Law firm data is isolated from other clients through separate database schemes. A third party security company, Castle Ventures, has performed a threat assessment analysis of code and architecture. The user management interface provides administration to restrict access to files.

Credenza

Designed to use Microsoft Outlook as a free practice management tool by organizing email, calendar, contacts, notes, and tasks according to client projects. The paid upgrade option allows firm-wide software with collaboration tools, integrated billing, and cloud document management.

The primary methods used to transform Outlook are client files, time sheets, phone calls, billing, and collaboration.

Firm Central (Thompson Reuters)

Designed to centralize all the tools to manage a law office and client work: matter management; time and billing; scheduling and calendaring; and document assembly.

The matter management dashboard is used to organize contacts, tasks, notes, documents, communications, and calendar events. Westlaw calendaring rules sync deadlines for scheduling issues. Legal forms can be saved, customized, and automated. The software offers QuickBooks integration along with hourly, contingency, and flat-rate options. Bills are generated by client, activity, or attorney.

All documents, files, notes, citations, and other information are scanned and indexed for fast retrieval. Citation links and flags are automatically added to uploaded documents for evaluation of case law.

HoudiniEsq

Key features: track time, expenses, and case budgets; billing, invoicing, and statements; case and matter management; client and staff management; templates; workflow automation; custom reports; barcodes; calendaring; PDF and Word automation; email; document searches; and integration with Word, Excel, QuickBooks, OpenOffice, Google, and LibreOffice.

Cloud security includes US-based data centers, SSAE-16, SAS-70, HIPAA, and Safe Harbor certified procedures. Desktop software is also available when data is stored locally.

LEAP

Designed as a completely integrated legal case management and accounting solution. Geared for small firms to stop using contact cards and manilla folders with all information about a matter stored in one collaborative location. Document version history is maintained to rollback to an earlier stage. Up-to-date legal forms are available within the software.

Features include automated document production; time recording; billing; and accounting. Pre-configured options cover all common areas of law. Email management is used to merge client details with professional quality messages. Integrated with Word, Excel, Outlook, and Adobe PDF. Services include web site design, blogs, newsletters, and search engine optimization.

Needles

The intake screens are customized to meet firm-specific requirements using data from phone calls, websites, call centers, or files for both actual and prospective legal matters. Every individual in contact with the firm is entered into the tracking system and provides the basis for conflict checking.

Designed to be the most customizable case management software available. Options include checklists, tabs, fields of information, and reports. A case type library combines the firm's past cases to build a knowledge database. Customized codes are used to track providers, costs, and expenses.

Key features: lead/intake; customization; contacts; documents; communication; case costs; workflow; and reports. Each case type has a unique task list showing the progress of each user. Custom statistical reports include the ability to generate analysis for any field that exists in the database.

PracticePanther

Designed to avoid complaints filed against attorneys by managing contacts and matters. Prevent lack of communication and never forget a task or event. Track statute of limitations, deadlines, and monitor case status. Import contacts from Excel, Gmail, and Outlook. Follow profitable practice areas and identify successful marketing campaigns.

Alerts can notify the firm when a minimum balance is reached on a trust account to prevent attorneys from working for free. Clients and opposing counsel have access to files and folders.

Key features: contact and matter management; conflict search; add new clients; delegate tasks; notifications; automated workflows; document management; templates; client access; one-click batch invoices; track time and expenses; users with different hourly rates; credit card payments; sync with QuickBooks.

ProLaw (Thompson Reuters Elite)

Designed to reflect the change in law practice where the client has more influence and determines the need and cost of legal services. The software is focused on a firm's ability to grow business through automated practice. This is done through financial management, client/matter management, risk management, and business development.

Document management options include: organization by client, matter, event, or other tag; full text and metadata searches; version control; history tracking; access a variety of file types (i.e. charts, video, and spreadsheets); and ability to cross-reference documents. Document assembly is used to create custom forms; integrate with Word and PDF; bulk creation; check pronouns when merging clients and opposing counsel; and complex calculations from within forms.

Key features: integration with Outlook and World; works with Westlaw research; access to court rules; docketing calendars; and email management through organizing messages according to clients and cases.

SmartAdvocate

Designed just for personal injury cases. The new case performance feature is used to track where cases come from (i.e. referrals and advertising) and the success rate between prospective and retained cases. Specifically handles unique characteristics, such as multiple plaintiffs/defendants. Other scenarios include different attorneys for primary, personal, and excess claims along with multiple insurance companies and adjusters. The ability to mass assemble documents has the option to search for categories of contacts, such as those who've suffered a heart attack.

Customized intake screens cover the most common cases, such as auto accidents, slips, and medical malpractice. Multiple sets of medical-related statutes can be associated with the same case or client. Special options exist for requesting medical records and tracking medical visits and treatment options.

Smokeball

Designed as the ultimate 360 degree digital filing system to track every document, email, note, detail, calendar entry, document version, and calls. The software combines a database, word processor, and email to automate and record every action. Matters are organized with to-do lists for attorneys to follow a streamlined list of documents in automated steps.

Time Matters (LexisNexis)

Designed to provide a solution to malpractice from missed appointments, mishandled matters and billing/trust accounts; ways to be more efficiency; generate more billable hours; unique law firm needs, workflows, and processes.

ZolaSuite

Designed to eliminate legal pads and provide one instance of data entry for error reduction, one set of user permissions for optimal security, one interface, and one audit trail for accountability. Key features include: track statute of limitations; notification when tasks are not completed by deadlines; all user activity is logged; subtasks; calendaring system; automatic billing; bird's eye view of all elements of a case; online portal for communication with clients and outside parties; and virtual firewalls to block attorneys for viewing case documents who have a conflict.

Reports and analytical features are designed to treat a law firm like a business because what isn't measured can't be improved. Capabilities include: referral report; aging AR summary; general ledger; originating attorney report; statement of account; profit and loss report; practice area breakdown; average matter duration; billable hours versus actual hours; unbilled time and amounts; hourly billing by attorney; and unpaid invoices.



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