As a lawyer, your goal is to provide top-notch legal services for your clients. But providing great service isn’t just about achieving winning results in the courtroom. According to the American Bar Association, a significant part of maintaining legal competence is understanding relevant technology, including the benefits and risks of use.
What does this mean for today’s law firms? Ethically speaking, all law firms should consider the security, functionality, and potential drawbacks of their current software solutions. If your software is out of date, difficult for clients to interface with, or lacks necessary security features, it may be time to think about updating your technology tools—especially if one of those tools is your practice management software.
Are you wondering whether it’s worth it to migrate to a new legal practice management software? Keep reading to learn when to make the switch, determine how to choose a new software solution, and gain some tips to make the data migration process as seamless as possible.
Is it time to migrate to new practice management software?
If your firm currently uses practice management software, you might be wondering why you would need to make a change. When deciding whether to switch to a new software solution, consider:
Is your clients’ personal information sufficiently protected from cyberattacks, theft, and natural disaster? As online criminals become more sophisticated, outdated software can become increasingly vulnerable to attack.
Advanced security software can protect client data and meet your ethical obligation to ensure client confidentiality .
If your firm is currently using piecemeal software solutions to perform daily functions, you may be spending unnecessary time transferring data between software. For example, having separate accounting and matter management software can require duplicate entries of client data, wasting valuable billable hours.
Comprehensive practice management software automatically updates information across functions, reducing administrative effort.
The more software solutions your firm uses, the higher your monthly subscription costs. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your overhead expenses, investing in a fully integrated software solution can reduce your annual operating costs.
Features to look for when choosing a practice management solution
There are a wealth of practice management software solutions on the market, so how do you choose the right solution for your firm? Consider your goals for practice management software—are you hoping to reduce costs, improve efficiency, increase collaboration, or create more time for billable work? The right software for your firm should have features that help you meet your business goals.
While each firm’s needs differ depending on its practice areas, size, and structure, here are some common features to look out for when choosing a practice management solution.
There are two types of software: desktop software and cloud-based software.
Desktop software includes programs like Microsoft Office, which involve purchasing a license and downloading the software onto your computer. Data from the software can be stored on your local device (i.e., your computer) or it can be stored on an on-premise server. However, to remotely access any data stored on an on-premise server, you’ll have to use a virtual private network, or VPN.
Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is accessible from any device, anywhere. Instead of being downloaded onto a specific device, like a laptop, it’s available on the internet with a secure login. This is helpful for the many law offices these days that support hybrid working environments—but even law offices that require each team member to be in the office can benefit from cloud-based software. With cloud-based software, attorneys who are working from the courtroom or meeting clients outside of the office can remotely access matter documents and notes and track time and expenses.
Besides being convenient, cloud-based software is also generally more secure than desktop-based solutions, which can easily be compromised or damaged if a device is lost, stolen, or broken. Additionally, firms need a dedicated IT department to ensure the security of anything that is stored within an on-premise server.
With cloud-based software, client information is protected, even in the case of theft or device damage. What’s more, your IT department doesn’t need to be stretched thin by the demands of maintaining and troubleshooting on-premise software or servers.
Every law firm relies on some kind of accounting software. If your firm is currently using non-legal-specific software, like Microsoft QuickBooks, you’re not only spending unnecessary time and money on an inefficient program—you’re also risking your firm’s legal compliance.
When it comes to managing client funds, it’s important to be precise. That’s why using a program that requires you to sync matter documents and time worked between programs, like QuickBooks, is problematic. If data is duplicated, deleted, or imported incorrectly during a sync, your firm could be cited for a compliance violation.
Even if data does sync properly, you can’t be sure without a thorough audit—a task that is tedious and time-consuming. A fully integrated practice management software solution houses all client information in one program, eliminating the possibility of data error and failed transfers.
Additionally, legal-specific software can automatically screen for compliance errors with complex legal billing accounts, like trust accounts. Unlike QuickBooks, legal-specific accounting software like CosmoLex performs automatic three-way trust reconciliations and protects against overdrafts and commingling of client funds.
The best legal practice management software should save time, not waste it. When choosing practice management software, look for a solution that will save your firm administrative time spent on activities like client intake, email follow-up, and invoicing with robust automations.
Automation tools clear unnecessary tasks off your desk, creating more time for billable work. Important automations for law firms include:
- Marketing automations like text messages, drip campaigns, and more
- Automatic time tracking
- Matter-based document automation
- One-click batch billing
- Email invoicing
How to make the data migration process fast and simple
When it comes time to finally make the switch to a new practice management software, planning is vital for ensuring data gets seamlessly transferred to your new system. Start by choosing a date to go live with the new software, and work your way backward through a timeline of action steps.
You can choose to manually migrate your data—or some software solutions, like CosmoLex, can assist you if you’d prefer. Whichever method you choose, start by preparing your data for migration. Begin by migrating your non-financial data like client demographic information, matter information, and payees. This process typically takes 2–3 weeks to complete.
Next, prepare to migrate your financial data. This process will be done in close coordination with your firm’s accounting team and typically takes an additional 2–3 weeks.
After transferring your data over to new software, it’s important to verify that every item was properly synced. Once you’ve confirmed that all important matter information has securely transitioned to your new system, you’re ready to take advantage of the many benefits of a new, secure project management software.
It’s time to make the switch to CosmoLex
Our comprehensive practice management software is packed with features that increase firm efficiency, improve the client experience, and make matters run more seamlessly and securely than ever before. To see how CosmoLex could support your firm, schedule a demo or sign up for a free trial.