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How to Choose the Right Law Firm Management Software

Just as subtle details can change the outcome of legal actions, small oversights can make one practice management software application a star and another one a dud. There are three phases of law firm management software adoption - vendor selection, installation and training, and compliance. If you take the time to do this right, your practice will greatly benefit.

Shop Around

Make a list of the features you want from law firm management software. Think about core functions such as billable time tracking, client databases and document management, but also consider additional features. For example, do you want an application that also handles email or will you want it to integrate with your company's current email system?

Try before you buy. Choose a vendor that will send a representative to your office for a demonstration or do a virtual presentation online; but don't just sit there and listen to a marketing presentation. You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it first, and the same should go for a product that will have such a significant impact on your practice. Get a hands-on feel for how intuitive and responsive the system can be to your needs. Come up with specific scenarios you want to see, like how practice management software would generate a client report for a specific period, or how you can view two attorneys' calendars at the same time.

Installation and Training

You cannot install a new program on your law firm's network and assume that's the end of it. This is just the beginning. After installation and testing on your firm's computer systems, training and consulting for your attorneys and staff are critical to ensure you get the most value from the newly integrated law management software.

As a rule, expect to spend as much on these services as you spent on the original product. Third-party consultants provide the education necessary to get all employees using the system with confidence from day one. They teach your organization to use the application to its full potential, and assist in customizing the application to your law firm's specific needs. Consultants ease the transition period and get your organization back up to speed more quickly, rather than stumbling along on your own.

Compliance

Some attorneys will be resistant to the new practice management software. Routine tasks may be perceived as more challenging because they don't know the system anymore. They are tempted to find ways around the new technology, stubbornly clinging to old methods. Don't let them. Distribute written policies that make it clear that all tasks must be carried out with the new firm management system.

Often the most resistant users are the senior attorneys in the law firm. It is critical to get them on board from the beginning, because if they won't comply with the new system it sends the wrong message to other employees and can potentially jeopardize paper trails and audits, to name a few.

There are many law firm management software solutions to choose from. Select and purchase the right one by knowing what features you need and reviewing a number of software providers. With the right approach and commitment, the transition period will go smoothly and your practice will be operating at new levels of efficiency in no time.

Tom P Dwyer

Tom Dwyer works for LexisNexis, a developer of law practice management software and law practice software, customized to the needs of the modern law firm and offering unique features that generic software solutions cannot.

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About the Author: Tom Dwyer works for LexisNexis, a developer of law practice management software and law practice software, customized to the needs of the modern law firm and offering unique features that generic software solutions cannot.

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