Legal cases need to be handled with utmost care. If you’re a lawyer, manage a legal department, or own a small law firm, you must be aware that the smallest of mistakes can cost you clients, and even a single missing piece of information can lead to a bad outcome for your law practice.
Free legal case management software for legal professionals manages contacts, schedules, legal documents, and legal case reports, all while sticking to a budget. It allows you to schedule and track court dates, client meetings, and deadlines as well as set reminders about important tasks for your legal practice.
If you think purchasing a legal case management tool is pricey, think again: Software for legal firms doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many case management solutions that you can try for free. You can read our full methodology here.
CaseFox is a web-based timekeeping and billing solution with features that facilitate legal case management. These features include task management, client management, time tracking, a legal document management system, and calendar management. It also can double as accounting software.
The tool’s free plan covers two active users and four cases. Law firm users can be disabled and new users added at no extra cost. The software can be integrated with document storage tools, such as Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive.
Expense ledger in CaseFox (Source)
Key highlights of the tool:
- Captures both billable and non-billable time and expenses, and uses the captured time records to automatically create client invoices.
- Stores all client and case-related information at a centralized location. It also lets users assign document access permissions to control who has access rights.
- Automatically syncs the tasks and calendar items created by users with Google Calendar.
Upgrade cost: Starts at $15 per month. Discounts are available with paid versions.
Support: Email and phone support, a knowledge base, and a community forum. Users can also raise tickets on the CaseFox Support Portal and track the resolution status.
Mobile apps: Not available.
Suitable for: CaseFox is suitable for organizations of all sizes. It’s especially useful for legal professionals who need to track billable time and expenses as part of their accounting process.
ClinicCases is an open source web-based case management solution. Some of its key features are case queries, time management, data export (PDF, CSV, and TXT), calendar management, and time reports.
Users can install the software on their own servers or use the vendor’s paid hosting service, which offers free software setup and configuration. An unlimited number of users can be added. Data is stored in the MySQL format and can be exported to all other database systems. The software is optimized for mobile devices and can be accessed via any mobile browser.
Database of client cases in ClinicCases (Source)
Key highlights of the tool:
- Organizes and stores all case-related documents at a centralized location for ease of access.
- Offers a consolidated dashboard that helps users track active cases, case open date, case access history, and more.
- Provides detailed reports on the status of cases as well as the time taken to close a case.
Upgrade cost: Offered free of cost under the MIT License. The cost of hosting on the vendor’s server is $99 per month. Special discounts are available for newly established nonprofits and lawyers practicing for at least five years.
Support: A knowledge base, user forums, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Mobile apps: Not available.
Suitable for: ClinicCases is specifically designed for law school clinics. It can also be used by small law firms, small nonprofits, and lawyers that have a private practice.
Jarvis Legal is web-based legal practice management software with case management features such as time tracking, billing, document management, account management, and reporting.
Its free version covers unlimited users, five cases, and 5GB online storage space. It allows users to receive online payments, generate bills using customized templates, automate documentation, and generate reports. It also offers a client portal through which users can check on the progress of their cases, manage billing, and more.
Document assembly and editing in Jarvis Legal (Source)
Key highlights of the tool:
- Allows users to invite co-counsels or clients to review and edit case documents.
- Provides predefined templates to help users generate bills and share them with clients. It also helps track unpaid bills.
- Offers JarvisBox that allows users to store a copy of all files on their computers and edit them, even when offline. Once users come online, all offline changes are automatically synced with the software.
Upgrade cost: Starts at $35 per user per month (billed every other year).
Support: A knowledge base and FAQs.
Mobile apps: Android and iOS.
Suitable for: Jarvis Legal is suitable for organizations of all sizes.
How to choose the right free or open source legal case management tool for your business
When choosing your free or open source legal case management tool, it’s important to narrow down your options. Once you have ample information, you’ll need to select the one that best caters to your needs.
- Confirm number of users covered. Think about the number of people who will need to use the legal case management software and check how many users are covered under each software platforms’ free plan.
- Compare software features for the free plans. All of these software platforms are for legal case management, but may still offer different features and user experiences. Compare these platforms and choose the best one for you.
- Check the cost of upgrades. As your company grows, you’ll want to make sure your software scales with you. When comparing software options, check how much each platform charges to upgrade from its free version to a paid version.
- Verify mobile accessibility. If users will need to access the legal case management software from their mobile devices, make sure the platform offers a mobile app and access.
- Consider the size of your company. Some software platforms cater toward small, nonprofit firms, while others are suitable for firms and companies of all sizes.
Common questions to ask while selecting a free or open source legal case management tool
With so many options to choose from, you’ll want to make sure you ask the right questions before deciding on a legal case management platform. Here are a few questions to consider asking software providers and their sale representatives:
- How many users are covered under the free version? Once confirmed, verify how easy it is to replace users. For example, if the platform allows two users and one of those users leave, how easy would it be to deactivate their profile and transfer their legal documents to another new user?
- Can I easily create customizable reports? Being able to create your own reports gives you ownership over your own data. You’ll need to know up front if you create reports on your own from the platform, or will need additional programming help to extract data.
- What is customer service like for those using the free version of the legal software? Every platform offers different levels of customer service for users of the free version. Confirm if you’ll have access to live representatives and if that’s important to you.
- Can I speak to a customer who has deployed your tool in the past six months? If the vendor avoids answering or is uncomfortable with you speaking to a recent customer, they might be concerned you’ll find something wrong with their product or service.
Looking for legal case management software for your law firm? Visit Capterra’s legal case management software directory to compare more tools and read user reviews.
How we evaluated products
We identified popular products for “open source and free legal case management software” via an Incognito Google search on March 31, 2021. Products that appeared either individually on the first SERP page or at least twice on third-party listings during the search were shortlisted for further assessment.
Shortlisted products were evaluated against Capterra’s definition of legal case management software: Legal case management software coordinates documents, scheduling, conflicts, contacts, and reporting associated with legal cases.
The tools were further evaluated for a stand-alone free module that doesn’t need to be purchased post a limited period or expiry of usage limits.
Tools that met all of the above criteria were selected for the article.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.