- Product: Evaluate whether the vendor is offering features that you need and will drive value (e.g. automated client intake, document management, payment processing). While there are standard features across practice management software, different vendors will have their own unique offerings. Also consider whether the vendor offers integrations with your current system (such as Outlook, Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, and so on).
- Security: Lawyers need to operate under strict rules when it comes to security, such as the duty to protect client information. Ask vendors which encryption methods they use, where the servers used to store data are located, and how often data is backed up. If you plan to host your own servers through an on-premise solution, be aware that you may be at greater risk for disruption in the case of a fire, flood, earthquake, or other disasters.
- Ease of Use: This not only encompasses how easy the practice management software is to operate on a day-to-day basis, but also how easy set-up, implementation and customization is for your firm. Make sure to trial different vendors to see which one has the most intuitive user interface.
- Support: Having responsive, readily available support is important when you’re dealing with client matters. Using any kind of new technology usually comes with a learning curve and if you have a question or need help, you should be able to easily get in contact with your practice management software vendor.
- Deployment Options: Choosing on-premise or cloud-based deployment will depend on where you want your data to be stored. With on-premise, you’re responsible for storing data and maintaining servers and cloud-based deployment has data stored on the vendor’s database. On-premise is a more traditional software model and all the information is limited to the firm office, which means that access, sharing, and backing up needs to be done in the office. Compared to cloud-based, a new software model, that allows users to access practice management software through any web browser, from any device, on any network.
- Pricing: The cheapest legal practice management software is not always the best one for your firm. Each vendor will offer different pricing but it’s important to understand the value and return on investment you’ll get compared to the number on the price tag.
What is the difference between law practice management software and case management software?
Case management and practice management are two sides of the same coin. Case management software is a platform where all case-related information (such as deadlines, evidence, witnesses, and more) is stored, managed, and accessed.
On the other hand, practice management software helps lawyers manage their firm and includes case management features along with document management, client intake, calendaring, and other features that help with firm processes and workflows.
There are vendors that will lean more towards the managing law firm aspect over the case management aspect of practice management software. However, for lawyers both are very important.
What is the best case management software for lawyers?
As with most complex legal matters, the answer is it depends. Not all practice types are created equal. Layer jurisdiction specific regulations on top of these nuances and you have law firms of all sizes and shapes that will have different needs. The best case management software for a solo practitioner may not be the same as the best one for a law firm that’s looking to scale.
The best case management software is the one that best meets your needs as a lawyer and your clients’ needs.