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July 29, 2015

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Making the Case for Case Management Software

by WSBA
Illustration of two lawyers with computer symbols
Law firms depend on a variety of case management software, here’s 10 good reasons why.

Illustration of two lawyers with computer symbolsDo you feel like you need a better system for file management? There are many options, but each case management software platform is a hub for handling all information and tasks related to your cases.

No matter which one you choose, case management software generally offers tools to engage clients and check for conflicts, organize calendars and email, manage accounting and document production, and more. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to invest in case management software, here are 10 reasons to say yes.

  1. Ensure information is shared across the entire history of a client’s case with all lawyers and staff who need to know the information. Because it is matter-centric, it is easy to locate a file and understand the key points quickly. This is opposed to having to synthesize information from many different sources, some of which may be in offsite storage or a filing cabinet three offices over where someone is having a meeting.
  2. Promote accessibility and collaboration among employees. Everyone can access the file from the platform. Lawyers can assign tasks to support staff and, as they complete each task, they can report its completion in the system.
  3. Streamline workflows, resulting in efficiency improvements and error reduction. A recent study found that firms with practice management software had 40 percent less support staff than firms without, with those support staff using the software showing more efficiency in accomplishing tasks that are automated and simplified.
  4. Reduce non-billable time. Firms that use practice management software report a reduction in lawyer non-billable time by four to eight hours a month, on average, resulting in greater profits.
  5. Simplify billing and permit division of labor and manager oversight to reduce fraud and error in billing and payment procedures.
  6. Pull and analyze data regarding business performance.
  7. Streamline the calendaring of a series of events. Not every practice management platform includes sophisticated, rule-based docketing or calendaring systems, but they are very effective at eliminating inefficiency and error by calendaring key events of a case in a few actions, instead of a series of manually plugging in all the dates.
  8. Filter searches of certain events or tasks by matter. Software search capabilities have greatly improved in the last 10 years. But only practice management software will give you matter/case-centric results, as opposed to finding all documents including a particular search term. One of the most important matter-centric searches is a conflict of interest check. Many law offices think that Outlook Contacts suffices for a conflicts check system database. It does not. It could come close if all fields are properly entered (i.e., aka, dba, formerly known as, witnesses, victims, business officers and board members, opposing counsel, opposing parties, heirs and beneficiaries, etc.) and when the potential client approached the firm, but this is rarely the case. Not all practice management software has a sufficient conflicts of interest system, so look for one that does.
  9. Decrease the client communication burden if the client portal is engaged and the client checks her case status online instead of calling the firm. This permission must be granted by the lawyer and can be controlled by the lawyer. Such access for a client lends itself to transparency and good client communication with minimal effort on the lawyer’s part, but it does require a certain amount of sophistication on the client’s part.
  10. Offer a basic Customer Relations Management (CRM) system for marketing purposes. Outlook Contacts can be used in a similar manner, but requires more time in organizing and with less reporting and targeted information. For example, one could do a search in a practice management system for only bankruptcy clients, or only the clients of two lawyers in the firm, then work on marketing efforts targeted just to those members. In Outlook Contacts, even meticulous entry of individuals’ names and numbers is incomplete.

All practice management software products should be able to handle these tasks. The question is whether it works for your firm, your employees and you. For help in comparing your options, or any other aspect of law practice management, contact the Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) for a consultation.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Aug 13 2015

    Thanks for putting together this great list, Charity. I’m going to share it with CosmoLex’s followers and hopefully some will convert to investing in a practice management software!

    Reply

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