Big data can be big trouble when it comes time to move to new legal software. The questions abound. What data will move over? How long will it take? How much will it cost?
“The biggest pain in the world is changing from one software to another and migrating all my contacts and files into the new system,” a commenter recently wrote on Law Practice Management Software: 5 Popular Choices Compared. Since this commenter was the second person to ask about data migration, I figured it was time for a post.
Many lawyers are confused about migration. A high percentage of legal software buyers bought within the last 12 months, according to our recent survey of legal software buyers,suggesting the market for legal software is growing.
From the comment: “I want to migrate my files and as easy as possible without me going crazy worrying about all my stuff getting lost. It would be very helpful if you could add a review for the process of migrating data/switching to new softwares, for some of these options.”
To figure out what the process looks like, I reached out to several legal software vendors. They walked me through what it takes to migrate a user’s data to their system.
If you learn nothing else, understand that the process will differ for every category of legal software and every software vendor. It will also differ based on where and how you currently store your data.
When evaluating vendors, learn the process for getting your data in, and out, of their software before making a decision.
How to migrate your data to a new legal software program
The most popular category of legal software among the buyers we surveyed is legal case management software. Next is law practice management software and discovery software, which are nearly tied. The difference is mostly that law practice management software offers revenue management, while legal case management software offers product delivery.
How to Migrate Data to Case Management and Law Practice Management Software
PracticePanther is a great option for firms that want to improve their time tracking and billing. Their stand-out features include custom expense categories, custom hourly rates for each attorney or paralegal, and read receipts for your invoices (including how many times they were read).
I talked to David Bitton at PracticePanther about how to migrate data.
“It’s as simple as exporting your data from your current software to an Excel CSV spreadsheet,” Bitton wrote. “You can import the data yourself instantly in one click.” The import functionality is included in the software by default, so you don’t need to pay.
Like most software, whether you can import all your data depends on the software you’re moving from. “Some programs make it impossible to export your data in a normal format,” Bitton wrote. “You can easily import your contacts yourself from Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, MSN, Outlook, Mac Address Book, and an excel CSV spreadsheet.”
“Cost is free for most imports, unless it’s highly technical, their data is bad, and they have thousands and thousands of items to import.”
Actionstep is a good system for firms that need an all-in-one solution. It includes matter and case management, CRM, and legal billing and accounting.
Ted Jordan gave me a link to their setup process.
Rocket Matter is a good option if you want stupid-simple billing. Features such as time capture on your smartphone or iPad, brandable client portal where clients can pay invoices, and batch billing make getting paid easy. It integrates with LawPay and syncs seamlessly with QuickBooks, in addition to all the standard integrations.
Overall ease of use is a big plus to Rocket Matter. They offer free user training 10 times per week.
Rocket Matter Marketing Coordinator Travis Francis walked me through the migration process.
Rocket Matter can import your:
- Calendar Events
- Unbilled Time
- Previous Matter Balances
- Matter Rates
“The process normally takes two to three business days to be completed by our support staff and is free of charge,” Francis wrote. “The items above can be imported via a .csv file that you’ve exported from your previous practice management software. However, contacts can also be imported via a vcard file and calendar events can be imported via iCalendar.”
Jarvis Legal offers 3-click billing “in seconds.” It also automates time-tracking and centralizes case management. Like Rocket Matter, you can enter your time from any device. Share invoices with one click. Sort invoiced by whether they’ve been paid. Store documents in the cloud and share them via secure links.
Jarvis Legal Vice President Anthony Yeremian walked me through the data migration steps.
1. Which users are eligible for data migration?
- Users who signed up for at least one Basic license with a 12-month plan (i.e. users with free licenses or month-to-month plans don’t qualify)
- Users who are in possession of the list of the data to migrate in an Microsoft Excel-compatible format (.xls, .xlsx, .csv, etc.). (Please note that if you can’t retrieve this information by yourself, you should ask your former software vendor to do so.)
2. What data does Jarvis Legal migrate?
- Jarvis can migrate your existing clients, contacts and cases provided that you have this information available in an Microsoft Excel-compatible format (.xls, .xlsx, .csv, etc.)
- If requested, Jarvis can also migrate your files (documents, pictures, videos, PDF, etc.) provided that you give us a direct access to them (USB encrypted key, Dropbox, VPN, etc.). (Please note that you might have to pay for additional storage space depending on the volume of data stored by Jarvis Legal.)
3. What is the price?
- It depends on the volume of data you have to migrate. Data migrations usually require 1 or 2 IT Engineers over 2 to 3 business days.
- Jarvis charges $590/man-day (unless you were offered a free on-boarding package in a written form by a Jarvis Legal representative).
Legal Files is a case and matter management system that offers practice-specific windows and workflow. It’s a good option for legal departments and law firms that want to organize all contacts, documents, deadlines and data in one system that integrates tightly with Microsoft Office, Outlook and Lotus Notes.
Gordon Hack of Legal Files gave me some information about migrating to their system.
“About 75% of our implementations of Legal Files contains some type of data conversion from a legacy system, which may or may not be a commercial product,” Hack wrote.
It costs money to migrate to Legal Files, but the upside is that it’s a custom import. “So the customer will get 100% of what they want where they want it in Legal Files.”
Legal Files will sample your data to estimate how much time and money migration will require. “The length of time can depend on many variables but having a data conversion usually adds two months to the length of the implementation of Legal Files.”
Hack gave me access to Legal Files’ extensive data migration documentation. I’ll summarize it below.
In all, migrating data to Legal Files is a four-step process:
- Data mapping
- A test conversion
- Adjustments (if required)
- Final conversion just prior to the go-live date
Data Mapping: You’ll work with a Legal Files project manager to learn what Legal Files does. Your Legal Files project manager will also learn from your team what your current case management system does.
The Legal Files project manager will produce a data mapping report that will map existing data to Legal Files field by field. They will then certify that the data mapping is correct before coding begins.
Test Data Conversion/Review: Legal Files will create a computer program to convert your data. It will import your current data into your new Legal Files database. After you review the data, Legal Files will transfer your database to a server and give you access. Your Legal Files programmer will work with the Legal Files project manager regarding any questions that may arise.
Adjustments and Final Data Conversion: Now is the time to request changes to the way your data will be stored and organized. Legal Files will make your requested changes to the conversion program and then re-run the conversion program against the current data. Then Legal Files will again transfer your database to a server and then give your project team members access. If there are no further changes, your project manager you will sign off on the converted database and return the sign-off form to Legal Files Software, Inc.
Once you approve your new Legal Files database, Legal Files will schedule the final data conversion to coincide with the “go live” date for your new system.
Clio is for legal professionals who need a comprehensive legal practice management solution. Clio offers different pricing categories and products catering to small, medium and even large legal practices.
I emailed with Joshua Lenon, Clio Lawyer in Residence, about how to migrate data to their system.
Lenon linked me to a support article discussing migration options and timeframes for Clio. Clio offers complementary migrations. “We’ve built tools to help migrate users from 75 different pieces of software.”
“Clio’s built to allow law firms to migrate their own data easily,” Lenon wrote. “Some do require some help from our Migrations team.”
“Most migrations that require Clio team members are done in a week or two, following a clean export from the firm’s old system and some back and forth double-checking the data from completeness.”
Lenon also linked me to a support article on exporting information from Clio. “Older systems often store a firm’s data in proprietary formats & charge extra fees to export the data in a usable format.”
“The rise of cloud computing solutions is helping mitigate this, but only in part. True cloud solutions built by technologists, rather than lawyers, try to build a system that is based on ISO and web-based standards.”
“For example, Clio allows users to export their data at any time in either open-sourced spreadsheet formats or other accepted file formats (like iCalendar format for calendar entries). The idea is to make it as easy for our users to leave Clio as it is to join Clio.”
CosmoLex is ideal for small law firms that want one login to access practice management, billing, and accounting.
CosmoLex Marketing Manager Joshua Goldberg walked me through migrating data to CosmoLex.
“It is nearly impossible to migrate ALL data from one practice management software to another without compromising accuracy or making it cost prohibitive,” Goldberg wrote.
However, the process for getting as much data moved over involves exporting data from your legacy system into a CSV format which is then imported into CosmoLex. CosmoLex is able to import generic client data such as names, phone numbers, addresses, and emails this way.
Here’s some support documentation for importing generic data.
CosmoLex offers legal-specific accounting. That means you can’t migrate all billing and accounting balances automatically from products such as QuickBooks or Xero to CosmoLex. “There are required data elements which simply would not be available in the data set.”
But you can close your books in your previous software and only migrate starting balances as well as uncleared transactions (as those will clear in future). Goldberg calls the process “straightforward,” and says CosmoLex offers a comprehensive guide to the process, which can be done by a lawyer or accountant.
Here’s some support documentation for migrating starting balances and uncleared transactions.
CosmoLex doesn’t charge firms for this kind of data migration.
“If above two options are not workable, we analyze the situation case-by-case and work with our certified consulting community in assisting in the data migration. In such scenarios, the client incurs a cost which depends on the complexity. It can take hours to days depending upon the client’s earlier setup.”
How to Migrate Data to Legal Case Intake Management Software
Law Ruler was designed by plaintiff lawyers to help law firms increase their profits by helping to identify high-quality clients, examine case expenses, and offer exceptional customer service. It saves lawyers time by streamlining and automating the client intake process. Integrations include Vonage, DocuSign, Live Chat, Google, and Microsoft.
Law Ruler CTO Daniel Jacobs explained what’s involved in a data migration. “Law Ruler has an import engine that allows self-service of data from various CRM and legal case management software vendors,” Jacobs wrote.
“The import process into Law Ruler legal case management software or Law Ruler legal CRM and marketing automation software generally takes minutes for a simple import, and can take up to a week for a very complex import format that we have not seen before.”
Their self-service “Import Leads/Clients/Cases” tool allows you to import a spreadsheet of leads, clients, or cases directly into Law Ruler Software.
The only limiting factor regarding which data can be imported is vendors who hold clients’ data “hostage” and make it hard for them to export. “Some vendors do it intentionally and make clients download one document at a time,” Jacobs wrote. “Imagine having to download hundreds if not thousands of documents manually. In those extreme instances, we are able to develop custom action plans for clients if they want us to help them get their data out and bring it into Law Ruler.”
Like Legal Files, Law Ruler offers customers data migration documentation. Here’s a summary of how to import data in CSV format into their system. They recommend that you send their support team your first import file so they can review it for compliance with the Law Ruler Import Leads Engine.
1. Click on the “Import Leads/Clients/Cases” button from the Settings blue menu as shown below to open the “Import Leads” tool in Law Ruler Software.
2. Left-click on “Choose File” to select a file from your computer or cloud folder to begin importing leads into Law Ruler.
3. Press the “Upload” button to complete the upload of your CSV file.
4. Choose which case type you will set for all of the leads that you are importing at this time as shown below.
5. Select a “Match Column” from your CSV worksheet to import into each available “Law Ruler Column” that you would like to import. Please leave any “Match Columns” blank that you do not want to import into Law Ruler.
6. After selecting all of the “Match Columns” that you want to import into Law Ruler, please press the “Continue” button, then you will be able to press the “Upload Leads” button as shown below to complete the Import.
Don’t forget to “Save this Mapping” template so you can use it when importing similar files in the future.
Note: Law Ruler will ONLY accept .CSV files for import at this time. If your import file is in Excel format, then you can convert this into MS Excel or Google Sheets .CSV format from inside Excel/Sheets.
The data migration is complementary. “As a value-added service, Law Ruler will provide a free review of client data and can do the import for you at no additional charge.”
Whether you’re looking at legal case management software, law practice management software, or discovery software, hopefully this guide on how to migrate your law firm data into new software has been helpful.
What else should we have included? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.