Legal Practice Management Software Essentials
Whether you think you do or not, every law firm has some version of practice management software. It could be crude, like the disorganized files on a partner’s laptop, or it could be much more sophisticated and easier to access, like having all your documents in the palm of your hand.
In the legal world, your firm can’t survive without some form of practice management software. There’s probably plenty of room for improvement with your current model, yet still, you know how important it is to keep everything organized so that you can easily access, store, remove, and update information. Practice management software is the logistical power behind the running of your law firm. The fastest and most efficient way to manage all of your cases can also be the most cost-effective, if you invest in the right software.
For many law firms, without the right legal practice management software, you’re always playing catch up or commenting on how you need a better system to keep things organized. And whilst this may be a daily annoyance for you, you’re yet to actually change anything because the process of migrating to a new software can feel overwhelming, complicated or far too expensive.
But there’s good news! Today’s law firms have plenty of options. There are three primary types, these are:
Let’s take a look at these three systems in more detail:
Self-hosted systems require you and your firm’s managers to do it all. Operation maintenance falls squarely on your shoulders. This can come with a lot of headaches and potential downtime, especially if you don’t have the technical skills or office staff to support you if there’s a glitch. Depending on the issue at hand, this could be very disruptive for your law firm. Think of it like your in-laws coming to visit and refusing to stay anywhere but your house- all the work is on you.
A hybrid system still puts a lot of responsibility on you, but the infrastructure for your practice management software is housed in another location. As if your in-laws came to town but you had to organize and pay for their stay at the Ritz. This means a lot of work, high costs, and high expectations but still lacking some of the biggest benefits of cloud-based practice management software.
Cloud-based Practice Management Systems
And the third type of system? Truly the future of legal practice management software- the cloud. You get the best of both worlds; a streamlined, organized single platform for all your logistical needs, including task management and document management, without having to maintain the software yourself.
Why is Cloud-Based Practice Management Software the Future?
Capital intensive platforms are increasingly less popular because PI firm’s owners don’t want to spend large amounts of cash, upfront, on expensive infrastructure, hardware, and licenses, much less invest in the ongoing IT resources needed to maintain such a system. Personal Injury law firms work on a contingency fee model and maintaining cash-flow is essential to fighting long cases, as you well know. Due to the volume of work to be processed and the number of cases with ongoing needs at the same time, we’ve found these firms, in particular, benefit from cloud-based practice management software.
With the cloud, personal injury firms can save money and maintain cash flow by reducing capital expenditure on expensive outdated requirements such as IT infrastructure, licenses, hardware, software updates etc. As a result, it allows these personal injury firms to bolster their funds for individual cases therefore immediately reaping the rewards of a leading software. Apart from the aforementioned savings in cost, another advantage that cloud-based practice management software offers is a pay-as-you-grow model, your software is aligned with your specific needs at this point in time, and the cost for it is on that sliding scale, too. With the cloud, you don’t have to invest your firm’s much-needed resources into housing large servers, so no further office space required, no additional utilities, no need for banker boxes, or IT staff.
That’s money in your pocket that helps you grow your firm and focus on delivering work for current clients. There’s also room to grow, too, you can always upgrade your legal practice management software by taking the resources and cash you would have otherwise spent on an expensive software solution and instead funneling it into what’s most needed at your personal injury firm right now, like marketing to bring in more clients, improving your website, or SEO. With a cloud-based management solution you’ll get maximum ROI and remaining future-focused, your cloud-based system will grow with you, meaning no changes in the future once you expand!
But that brings up the million-dollar question: How do I find the right cloud-based practice management software? To get the full answer, we advise you to evaluate each of the following features and how they fit with your personal injury practice so you can choose the right legal practice management software.
Practice Management System Features: Collaboration
The practice of law in your personal injury firm has changed in the past few decades. Starting a firm years ago meant a clear focus on who is doing what. But that no longer applies for a modern personal injury practice.
Instead, today you must remain on top of everything in the firm from task management, to client service, to document management. If you’re still working with an older solution, however, you likely have one that doesn’t allow for the collaboration you need. Once a case is input into the system, you need to know its status and allow for people to access it easily and make changes as needed. Some of your team members might be even be outside of your office, so the system you choose should always be friendly for collaborative and on-the-go needs.
Rather than handling aspects of a case sequentially, multiple people inside your firm are working on different aspects of a case at a singular moment. Meetings and discussions about every aspect or stage of a case can be time consuming but leveraging today’s technology offers an opportunity for people to contribute to documents in real time, with everyone else able to see who has commented on what and where. The best part is that you don’t even need to be in the office- your team can collaborate from anywhere- this is collaboration in the truest sense and once you begin you’ll soon realize you could never go back to the time-wasting, clunky, awkward collaboration styles you used before!
If you use an older solution right now, it’s nearly impossible to keep everyone on the same page. You need a solution for your personal injury practice that allows you and any other stakeholders to access necessary materials directly whenever and however you need inside your legal practice management software.
Here’s the deal: you’ve probably spent a lot of time coming in on the weekend or staying after hours to email updates, upload files, or carry out work that’s already been handled. That’s unnecessary when you invest in the cloud. Instead, your legal practice management software will give your team members access to their case information from anywhere (complete with real-time updates and easy task delegation) so you don’t waste time duplicating requests or files and manually sending out information. Effective task management will change the way you work with your team. That’s time saved that you can use to grow your firm and serve your clients more effectively.
Microsoft Office has made it simple to create, upload, and edit your Office docs directly alongside your colleagues. The online application makes it easy to work on-the-go and to share the most recent version of any material with your entire team. No more trading drafts back and forth and wondering whether or not your comments from the last round of edit requests were incorporated. You’re all working from the same material. Use integrated task management and storage in your cloud- based system to manage what you require from your team then they can complete tasks directly inside a shared document.
With cloud-based management software, any updates to your cases are reflected immediately across all devices and platforms. The benefits of having the most up to date version no matter who you are in the team or where you are, are numerous; fewer check-ins with colleagues, simplified workflows, and faster turnaround times for clients. Not to mention less confusion or wasted time asking your office administrator “Is everything in version 37 of this document the most accurate and recent?”
The cloud harnesses the true power of collaboration, with technology. Everyone can keep tabs on the progress of a project and be able to easily identify who did what with the click of a button. Your cloud-based legal practice management solutions will make your life infinitely easier.
Practice Management System Features: Efficiency
In a personal injury practice, it is all about speed and endurance, especially since each case is like a marathon your law firm can’t afford to lose. Boosting energy with productivity, efficiency, and collaboration using the right software can enable you to run a few miles/min faster and focus on the best possible outcomes for your clients.
Firstly, the basics should be covered, your legal practice management software should put your emails, matter info, client medical info, critical deadlines, negotiations, settlement, and a firm-wide calendar all in one place that can be accessed from your office, your bed or the airport—so you can focus on hitting the ground running, before you even hit the ground. This allows you to easily share things automatically with your team members, too, so that everyone is focused on maximum efficiency, across the firm.
Secondly, even simple recurring tasks add up and decrease your productivity—that’s why it’s important to automate. But what is automation? It’s basically like choosing “record series” on your DVR, instead of having to remember to record your favorite show every week…and you can do the same thing for your Personal Injury firm for each one of your cases. You should be able to create custom workflows for any stage of your case that requires recurring tasks and assign them all at once—creating more time to work on your clients’ matters. This way, it’s simple to onboard, update, close out a case, and everything in between, by optimizing automation.
Thirdly, no one likes to do duplicative work—once you collect the information you need, you don’t want to waste time entering it over and over again in multiple different places; you want to get to work advocating on behalf of your clients. For example, using CloudLex’s Client Intake— Prospect stage, your administrator or assistant is able to enter injury information once and have it automatically populate in all the necessary places—with easy access for all vital team members. When that Intake converts to client status, all case information (documents, tasks, events, notes, and your calendar) is transferred to matter with just a click of a button, saving you from manually transferring the data every time you convert the intake to case and therefore streamlines document management. Trying to do this manually in today’s smart tech era is meaningless and a waste of your time, money, and potential.
Finally, you can leverage the power of technology for maximum efficiency in your storage management as well. Think of it this way- you don’t want to go searching through a room full of boxes or dig through an ancient card catalog at a library to find information anymore. Why would you? If you’re looking for a place to eat or to find the best mechanic in your area, you Google it. You can get your answers in a matter of minutes. Life in your personal injury practice should be that way too.
When your files are in a cloud-based law practice management system, you can wade through your entire case history (using keywords and tags) and find that key medical record as fast Googling it.
Practice Management System Features: Client Service
Nowadays, it’s a consumer’s world, clients have high expectations from any business they interact with, including their law firms. For your personal injury practice to be successful, you must be prepared for your clients needs and what they hope to achieve in working with you. Remember the old adage – if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
The way people interact with businesses has changed. Your practice, too, needs to keep pace with the changing habits of prospective clients.
Today’s clients track their pizzas, check out publically shared reviews, and more, all from their phone. Showing that you’ve invested in your firm’s future allowing their case materials to be easily uploaded and stored could influence a potential client’s decision to work with your firm.
The key to any relationship is communication—and the attorney-client dynamic is no different. While clients want you to be well spoken in the courtroom, they need to understand what you’re saying outside of it. If they expect to be updated about the exact location of their pizza or the delivery status of their latest gadget, then they definitely expect the same kind of transparency from their PI lawyer. Legal practice management software that connects all the stages of the case and keeps clients informed on the latest developments is a game-changer in the legal field and will make your life a whole lot easier. Rather than clients following up with you and waiting to hear from you about the case, your chosen practice management software should enable clients to be able to track the stage and status of their case at any time.
Practice Management System Features: Security
Every firm should have an eye on the latest concerns and trends in data security. Clients, too, want to ensure that their personal information is fully protected inside your software. Ensuring that you can protect sensitive data inside your cloud-based management software is crucial. In addition to online risks, potential harm can come from natural or man-made disasters and affect your current system, especially if that system is in your office. Upgrade now to the right legal practice management software which will keep your firm’s business safe from physical and online threats in the cloud.
Beware that a “vendor-hosted” solution does not ensure a true cloud-based software solution. Likewise, paying a monthly fee to your vendor doesn’t make this a real “Software as a Service” option for your firm’s document management, tasks, events, notes, contacts, other case information, and more.
The real cloud solutions of today for legal practice management software are built on sophisticated web technologies from the ground up. This means that the application is conceived, conceptualized, designed and developed as a cloud application right from the start. To find the cloud-based management software that really will work for you, here’s the crucial questions you need to be asking the supplier before signing up for new software for your firm:
- Can you ensure HIPAA compliance and best practice data security features?
- When was the last time they conducted proactive vulnerability tests for their application?
- To test the scalability of their solution, ask if they can set up 500 users as seamlessly as they can setup 5 users? If it is a repackaged legacy product, the answer will be “no” or “it will take additional time and too much money.”
- Will you need to add additional servers, databases and software licenses in the future? Will you incur additional maintenance costs as you grow? This will help you determine the real cost of their system and any hidden fees.
- Can they confirm 99.99% uptime and quick responses to potential downtime?
- Where do they host? A “mom-and-pop” or “regional data center”, with only one or two locations, should concern you.
- Do they have “geo-redundancy”? This feature means that if one data center goes down, then other centers located in different locations automatically kick in.
- How do they back up your data?
- How do they manage ongoing maintenance, monitoring and upgrades?
During this ‘fact-finding’ stage with a vendor of practice management software, you might discover that the “solution” presented to you does not fully cover what you need or want. Mature cloud service providers, on the other hand, have a global reach with a vast selection of recovery options. Cloud services leading the industry, such as Microsoft Azure, back up six copies of your information in at least two geographically dispersed data centers, which assures 99.9% availability of your data and backups.
Their ongoing monitoring program inside your selected legal practice management software not only ensures high performance but also ensures the security of your data. Unlike small data centers, leading cloud service vendors like Microsoft Azure employ a team of experts to monitor their data centers 24/7/365 to ensure seamless cloud connectivity for all their clients, regardless of size. Simply put, small regional data centers simply don’t have the technological expertise, capital, resources, or skills to offer the security, reliability and availability that your law firm needs.
There are technology innovators who set the trends and others who cling to their coattails. As you look for a practice management software, you need to very carefully filter out the noise and evaluate whether the solution presented is the Real Cloud.
Practice Management Software Features: Migration
Migrating to cloud-based legal software is like moving from an outdated and cramped studio apartment to a spacious mansion with all the modern amenities—a big upgrade. While migrating to the Cloud is normally a painless process, any type of move is a big deal—just like you wouldn’t throw your valuables in the trunk when you switch homes, your firm shouldn’t transfer your valuable data without a proper plan in place.
Migrating over to cloud-based law practice management software is a simple process if you want it to be—it involves three steps (but no stairs):
- testing and approval
If you have planned the migration in advance and spent enough time planning, the entire migration process should go smoothly. Of course, there will be unexpected issues, but these will be minimized. Different techniques should be used for copying everything over depending on the size of your database.
If you have a small database to migrate, you can just copy the data over your internet connection.
This approach will not work if you have large databases. You might have to wait for very long data transfer from the cloud vendor to migrate. To deal with this, you could compress the data before sending it, or allow remote access to your dedicated machine where a team of migration experts can move data to the cloud in less time. With expert engineers and cloud migration specialists working on your transfer the whole process will be a breeze. To know more about migration, visit___
Conclusion: Selecting Legal Practice Management Software
Your practice must be aligned with the personal injury firm requirements of today. Technology has revolutionized the practice of law. From greater collaboration and efficiency across your practice, through to what your clients expect today, it’s essential to use a solution that empowers you. You need to seek out cloud-based legal practice management solutions that not only meet the needs of your growing firm but enables it to be the best it can be.
The practice of personal injury has its own set of rules, challenges, and idiosyncrasies. You need a practice management software that can match those distinct needs. Unlike outdated, hosted or generic legal software that can only provide piecemeal help, or ends up costing far more in time and money, CloudLex is specifically tailored to guide personal injury law firms from intake to closure. Knowing that you have a robust and high-quality solution in your office gives you protection against downtime, assurance on security, and ease-of-access from anywhere.
CloudLex provides more than just the normal case summary and medical injuries list; we help you track data unique to your matters, with specific info for automobile accidents, slip and fall cases, medical malpractice, and more. You can upgrade your small personal injury firm to a top-of-the-line cloud-based software easily and affordably and make your expanding law firm even more profitable.
CloudLex’s state-of-the-art cloud-based case management software solution has revolutionized personal injury practice by offering everything a PI law firm needs, in one place. All-in-one apps designed to help build, manage, and grow your personal injury practice from anywhere make CloudLex a unique, next-gen, system and the first choice in cloud-based legal practice management solutions.
Here are the functions you can find inside the CloudLex solution: