Legal Software 101

legal-software-101Whether you’re getting ready to hang your own shingle or managing an established law firm, implementing a suite of legal software can seem like a daunting task. You might have been intimidated by the cost, the time to put the new procedures and tools in place and possibly the change from familiar processes. However, even with those hurdles, it pays (literally – it saves money) to improve your practice by adopting technologies that work best for you and your firm.

Software Categories

The four categories of applications commonly used by law firms include:

  • Practice Management Software
  • Document Management Software
  • Time and Billing Software
  • Legal Document Generation Automation Software

Practice Management

Practice management applications allow attorneys to streamline their workflow and business processes, thereby enabling them to spend more time generating revenue and less time doing tedious, unproductive tasks. These applications, at their core, offer fundamental matter-centric organization of contacts, calendaring, and management.

The use of practice management applications helps attorneys and staff with organization and quick reference to vital information, no matter the practice. These tools often integrate with other applications that allow for easier manipulation of that data as well as increased mobility.

Common practice management applications include:

  1. Amicus Attorney®
  2. Needles®
  3. Practice Master®
  4. Thomson Reuters ProLaw®

Document Management

Document management software applications are powerful tools in any law firm’s workflow. These applications provide the firm with a centralized and searchable depository of documents, emails and other matter-related items. Law firms deal with volumes of data in a variety of forms and formats. With the billable hour in mind, the ability to quickly search and recall documents or emails is essential for optimizing the firm’s workflow.

With paper documents converted to electronic files, less physical storage space is needed. It becomes easier to take or access documents off-site and audit trails become easier to maintain.

Two popular document management solutions are:

  1. Worldox®
  2. Microsoft SharePoint®

Time and Billing

Two of the most common struggles with any law firm, regardless of the size, is capturing billable time and getting bills out in a timely fashion. The right time and billing application can assist a timekeeper with these tasks and can even help capture more of their billable time. Used correctly, time and billing applications easily pay for themselves with more hours billed and more efficient billing practices.

Your accounting software can also be linked to your time and billing solution in order to facilitate invoicing and tracking accounts receivable and trust account transactions.

Popular time and billing software for law firms includes:

  1. Timeslips®
  2. Tabs3®Billing Software
  3. QuickBooks®

Legal Document Generation Automation

With law firms often collecting data for cases from a variety of disparate sources, assembling a single document from that data can be a challenge. Document generation software allows firms to streamline and automate that process.

These applications use templates and interview questions to help assemble the documents for attorneys. Firms can quickly automate the generation of releases, letters, government forms and other frequently needed documents.

Some applications that help law firms quickly generate these documents are:

  1. Hot Docs®
  2. ProDoc®
  3. Amicus Attorney®

Benefits of Integrated Legal Software Applications

Correctly implemented, these integrated technology solutions can save you time and money in billings, document generation and effectiveness – all while reducing risk.

  1. Increase profitability – capture billable time
  2. Increase productivity – automate documents
  3. Increase effectiveness – build templates
  4. Reduce risk – identify malpractice and disciplinary milestones

These benefits are reached not only through the efficiency of using each individual application, but also through reduced redundancy as the various products share information with each other.

The Legal Workspace Solution

Legal Workspace provides a cloud-based legal work environment with licensing options for all the software applications mentioned in this article. The platform was created just for lawyers and law firms. Our base package includes the complete Microsoft®Office suite, as well as the latest anti-virus and anti-spam protection and nightly backups of your data.

You can also customize your environment to add any specific legal applications your firm already uses or wants to offer, including the unique e-filing software used to submit documents to your local court. We allow you to move existing licenses to the cloud or take advantage of our SaaS (Software as a Service) licensing model for many legal software applications.

Our solution can be implemented in less than a week, often with most of the process happening over the course of a weekend, meaning little disruption to your workflow.

No matter how new or well-established your firm is, you can discover time savings and return on investment by implementing the right legal software solution.

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