2018 Legal Tech Review
BY Kerrie Spencer
Tech applications for attorneys are hot. There are hundreds of options available, and new apps are being introduced regularly. Who has time to try them all out?
Fortunately, BLF has done your homework for you. Here are some practice management and productivity apps for your consideration.
Law Practice Management Software
PracticePanther gets consistently good reviews and is used by thousands of law firms in 35 countries. The software helps users meet deadlines with alerts and makes it easy to get paid with one-click billing. It can track expenses and billable time by the hour, as a flat fee or on contingency. PracticePanther is intuitive and user-friendly, and it works on any device through its mobile app.
If you are worried about security, PracticePanther offers automatic real-time backups, 256 military grade encryption, HIPAA compliant file management, enterprise level security and custom security settings.
PracticePanther offers a free trial. Plans start at $49 per month.
Clio is another popular practice management solution, built for lawyers from the ground up. The makers of Clio claim their software saves legal professionals up to eight hours per week thanks to its intuitive time tracking, matter management and billing.
Clio streamlines processes, from intake to invoicing, necessary to run an efficient and effective law firm. It also boasts a comprehensive menu of over 70 apps, like Microsoft Office 365, Zapier and QuickBooks, that integrate with Clio.
One added benefit for tech savvy lawyers and law firms is that this software is cloud-based, permitting users to manage their work from any device, anywhere. Attorneys currently using this software are happy with the intuitiveness of the application functionality, and the easy-to-use interface with a broad selection of features and integrations.
Clio charges per user, per month, and plans start at $39 monthly. A free trial is available.
Legal Files is suitable for law firms or any company that needs to track legal issues. Law firms will appreciate the level of customization available with Legal Files, which integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat to accommodate any workflow.
Legal Files organizes expenses, emails, documents, contracts and deadlines in one location, which keeps users up-to-date on the most relevant and current information for a case. It is also one of the few practice management products available that handles case management, docketing and calendaring, and document management natively.
Bill4Time helps attorneys with time tracking and billing. Its legal billing application includes ABA Task Codes, trust reporting, conflict of interest checking and trust accounting. Reconcile trust and IOLTA accounting without needing a second app.
Bill4Time has an industry-specific legal edition. Bill4Time is an end-to-end, mobile-ready legal time billing solution offering 256-bit data encryption and local data backup. Bill4Time claims you will stop losing more than 30 percent of your billable hours when you use its application. Invoices are easy to brand. Online payment options mean you can get paid faster through a secure client portal.
Bill4Time offers a free trial, and legal plans range from $25 per month for 2 users, to $85 per month for unlimited users. All plans offer unlimited clients and matters.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Lexicata is a CRM software designed specially for attorneys. Lexicata is a combination of a client intake application and a CRM. It is able to capture lead information, create and send documents for signature, and track all other matters up until the client is formally signed. A law firm CRM is designed to help firms build stronger relationships with prospective clients, maximize conversion rates, increase client satisfaction and grow revenues.
The beauty of a CRM like Lexicata is it allows the firm’s attorneys to keep in closer contact with new leads from intake to invoicing. Clients do not slip through the cracks, and everyone at the firm can collaborate and stay organized throughout the entire time a client is doing business with the firm.
Contactually has an interesting focus on building relationships. It categorizes contacts (clients) into different groups, such as existing clients, referral sources and potential clients. Users are sent reminders to keep in touch with people in each of these categories. Given that law firms are usually extremely busy with ongoing work, reminders to keep in touch with potential clients could result in conversions.
When you sign up, you can import your address book and categorize each contact by putting each person, or the firm he or she is associated with, into a different bucket. After your contacts are imported, you can determine how often you want to be in touch. You may, for example, wish to contact top referral sources every 30 days and former clients every 180 days. Every day, your dashboard will tell you which people to get in touch with. Also, each day you get an email listing your to-dos.
Contactually makes it easier to consistently stay in touch with your referral sources. Contactually is easy to use and comes with the ability to automate sequences and schedule repetitive activities, and an outreach function that includes creating new tasks and auto-replies.
Contactually offers a free trial, and pricing ranges from $39 to $99 per month, billed monthly or annually.
Both solo practitioners and large firms will find features to like in actiTIME. The software effectively tracks all employees’ time and can register staff time off and sick leave. In fact, actiTime offers leave request management with a feature it calls actiPlans. It works on-and offline through actiTIME Mobile, which allows you to track time anywhere, on iOS or Android, and sync that data with a corporate time sheet.
The software allows multiple users and lets you to add comments within a weekly timesheet. It can make case and project estimates and send deadline and budget alerts, if costs begin to creep. Detailed and customizable reports let you see how time is being spent and identify areas where efficiency could be increased. QuickBooks integration is available.
For small teams of up to 5 users, actiTIME offers a free version. A free 30 day trial is offered for other plans, which range from about $2 to $6 per user, depending on the number of users and the length of the plan.
RescueTime is not a timekeeping app; rather it is a productivity app. RescueTime provides users with a clear picture of how their time is spent, which can be helpful when working on multiple cases that require billable and non-billable hours.
RescueTime monitors your computer use and tells you when and how you are productive or distracted. It keeps a log of your activity and accomplishments, and tells you how much time you have spent on emails and in meetings. RescueTime can even block websites you do not want to let yourself open while working.
RescueTime runs securely in the background on mobile devices and computers. With only one time, it is best for individual or solo use. Free and premium versions are offered at $9/month or $72/year.
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