For law firms looking to support remote work, the choice of practice management software can make the process a success, a challenge or a failure.
Practice management software for law firms comes either as a desktop program or a cloud-based program, which can be accessed by any internet browser. For firms who are looking to work remotely, there are only two ways their practice management software can be used: as a desktop-based software that’s run on a virtual machine or a cloud-based practice management program.
To understand which makes the most sense for your firm, it’s important to understand what it takes to run each setup and how long – or how quickly – the transition can be made to work remotely.
Desktop-based practice management software via virtual machine
In this type of setup, users log on to the desktop from another location. Once logged in, the desktop looks the same as if you had logged on from the physical computer. All programs, including practice management software, icons and folders will be there and accessible.
While this use of hosted cloud allows law firms to take advantage of the cloud, there is still required maintenance, updates and security responsibilities. These tasks add increased costs to expenses. Additionally, to add on new users, law firms would need to create a virtual desktop environment and set up the individual, which could take a considerable amount of time.
Law firms should also consider the cost of upgrading software licenses in order to obtain the latest version and features, as well as the lost value of having the latest software.
Cloud-based practice management software
With cloud-based practice management software, law firms can leverage the cloud to access their documents, notes and calendar information anywhere they have an internet connection. This type of mobility means lawyers don’t have to worry about being able to work remotely or gaining access to necessary files to work on cases.
With this type of practice management software, updates are released to all subscribers, meaning law firms benefit from all of the features available. When it comes to adding new users, it can be as easy as a few clicks and sending login information.
When using a program that is based in the cloud rather than on desktop, the security features are the responsibility of the software provider, which reduces the amount of time law firms need to spend managing updates.
For lawyers who are deciding which type of law firm practice management software is the best for their team and remote work, they should take into consideration:
- Security needs
- How much time they want to spend working on updates
- Cost to outsource IT and maintenance
- Ease of adding on new users