If you work for a small firm, either as an attorney, a paralegal or as an office or administrative worker, you know the sheer volume of work that goes into a case outside of the courtroom. You’ve got client schedules to manage, material to discover, paperwork to file, and every bit of it is on a deadline. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you had a program to take on some of the heavy lifting for you?
You know that your firm is ready and in need of something to help ease your legal burdens. You know that… but does your boss?
Making a software investment is a big decision—and convincing the senior partners to go through with it can be difficult. Buying legal management software can be a drawn-out process with way too many choices, daunting price points, and long implementation times. Buying in can be a risk—especially if your boss isn’t on board with making the investment.
Luckily, equipped with the right materials, you’ll find yourself more than able to tackle the challenge. Here’s how to gather the information you need to explain to anyone why legal software is necessary, beneficial, and totally doable.
Additionally, at the end of this article you’ll find a free case builder template. All you need to do is plug in relevant statistics and software information, and some information about your own company that can be easily answered with the quiz we include in this post, and you’ll have a fully-fleshed out and attractive slideshow for your presentation.
What does your firm need?
The first step is figuring out which tool, if any, you actually need. Consider some questions to help determine what you might need:
- What are your firm’s pain points?
- Are you a small firm looking to expand your clientele?
- Are you struggling to keep up with your data?
- Are you looking for a way to improve time tracking?
- Maybe you need a way to improve your documentation strategies?
Whatever it is, every firm has its pain points. Once you identify what yours are, you can begin looking into the software that can help. A firm looking to improve case and docket management might look into a legal case management software. A firm worried about a small budget can find software for legal billing and time tracking. Minimize your math with legal accounting software.
There’s a technological answer for most business issues in the legal world.
The question then becomes, do you actually need to buy new software? Would free software work? Or does your problem not actually call for software at all?
To handle the first point, I will never sit here and tell you that a paid solution is always better than a free or open source solution. There are many high-quality free software options on the market today, and they are often just as comprehensive, secure, and powerful as their paid counterparts. What matters are your specific needs.
When you answer the questions above, you will gain a better understanding of what you need to look for. So start trying to answer your narrowest question, and worry about the price point later. If a free software solves all your problems, there’s no reason for it to be a less attractive solution just because it’s free.
For the second point, what if your issues really can’t be fixed with technology? When this is the case, don’t go looking for a software just out of habit. All you’ll do is chop one head off the hydra. If your problem is really about engaging with your clients, high-level management decisions, or the current state of the justice system, no amount of clever software is going to fix it for you.
If you try to solve the problem and still think that you need software, then come back to it; the best software isn’t going anywhere.
If you’re not sure what your pain points are, or are looking for ways to articulate them, take this quiz:
What software features should you look for?
Consider those pesky pain points again. If your problem is high client turnover, the solution could be a better communication system, more nuanced documentation, and/or more transparent time tracking and billing.
If your problem is a poor data management system, the issue could be fixed with a database that has a cleaner interface, a more sophisticated keyword search, or even an integrated communication and calendar program. One problem can have many solutions, and only research can tell you which fix is right for you.
I’d suggest conducting your own research along with market research here. Send out a survey to whichever group thenew software is meant to help—perhaps your clients, or your legal partners. Determine the pain points they experience and how they think these problems could be solved.
Be as specific as you can. If you have a couple problems with simple solutions, you could be looking at a dozen or more software programs that can all do the work you need them to. And while that’s great, it isn’t very helpful in narrowing your search. Find the most specific problem you have and focus in on it. Perhaps you need software that manages sensitive cases securely. Maybe you need a comprehensive database that helps store ten years of case files and you need a program focused on easy and expansive storage. Maybe you have a unique program you already use and your legal management software needs to integrate with it.
Once you have your narrowest issue, you can expand your net from there. Your goal is to end up with one or two must-haves, and five or six nice-to-haves.
What does market research say?
Market research makes it clear: legal software improves the bottom line.
Legal software is some of the fastest growing technology on the market. According to Capterra’s comprehensive survey, 63% of buyers purchased new technology within the last year. Big data software improves data analysis and informs better data-driven decisions. Case management software integrates docketing and calendar features with communication systems to improve overall client experience. Legal software has a huge impact on a law firm’s ability to stay in the game, with technology evening the odds for smaller firms while giving corporate firms the space they need.
Even if it means a slightly higher up front investment, legal management, case management, and time tracking software can be incredibly helpful in the long run. If you don’t believe me, believe the real people who found solutions in software.
Maybe you’re like Kennametal Legal, who use an ELM software called CounselLink by LexisNexis to improve their client experience. Software allows Kennametal to be proactive instead of reactive; they integrated the software’s centralized database into their docketing system, used a cloud-based system to reduce reliance on an IT department, and added security features for sensitive information.
Bush Ross: Lawyers turned to a docket management software to help reduce manual labor. This software enabled them to cleanly manage, review, and organize hundreds of case documents. After implementation, Bush Ross increased efficiency and production, and was able to stay competitive.
Webb & Taylor uses database consolidation software from CaseFleet to improve their documentation, data retrieval and integration, and internal communications. Webb & Taylor wanted to streamline the documentation process and increase accessibility while standardizing the system across several locations; one software solved both problems.
How do you find your top three software options?
If you’ve identified your pain points and how to solve them, you’re on to the easy part. Now your biggest problem is having too many solutions.
Take the list you’ve created of pain points and potential fixes. Use a law practice management software directory to find the software features you want. Go ahead and get choosy in the specific search filters. It’s simpler to start from a few choices and go wider than it is to sift through an ocean of options.
“But Halden, what about the cost?”
I hear you. I know I touched on the possibility of going for a free legal software above. But what if you find the perfect software and suffer from some sticker shock like a bride on “Say Yes to the Dress?” How are you going to justify that cost to your boss?
Keep in mind that software often saves or even generates money for your firm, even if it has a price tag. Demonstrate this by calculating the ROI, or return on investment of the product. Finding and presenting the ROI is a way to show your boss that you’ve done your research and are convinced that this software is a good choice for your firm—and more importantly, your clients.
For further research on the topic, check out this blog about legal software written by the experts, and this pricing guide for law practice software. You can also check out our top case management software choices and this legal software survey report for more suggestions and helpful statistics.
Build your case for legal software
Say you’re convinced but your boss isn’t quite there yet. We’re here to help. You’ll want to see our essential legal software industry research report; even if you’re going for another type of legal software, you’ll see solid information on the software buying process.
Best of all, you can use our software case builder template to make your own case for the software you need.
Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.