Law Practice Management

Practice Management

Some of the most popular cloud-based practice management platforms are ClioRocket Matter, and MyCase. These platforms provide similar functionalities, helping lawyers manage time, billing, accounting, calendaring, documents, online payments, and client communications through a client portal. See this article for helpful comparisons of the respective strengths of Clio, Rocket Matter, and MyCase. Thomson Reuters (Westlaw) and Lexis Nexis offer their own versions in Firm Central and Firm Manager, respectively. Total Attorneys is particularly popular with virtual law firms.

CaseManager is the cheapest available option I have found—it has a one-time subscription fee of $20-$30 (vs. many hundreds of dollars per year for most other options). It is a well-reviewed option for new and/or small firm lawyers. It can be available on- and offline, and you can access it on your computer, tablet, or phone.

The best comparison I have found is the ABA’s Practice/Case Management Software Comparison Chart of practice management/time and billing products.

Other tools with more narrow functions include:

DirectLaw – Provides a virtual law firm platform to law firms to enable them to offer legal services online, including a secure client portal.

ERM Legal Solutions – Allows lawyers to manage and budget legal matters, including assigning tasks, prioritizing individuals’ workloads, tracking progress, and discerning availability of the firm’s resources.

SmartRules – Tell SmartRules what you’re doing (e.g., filing a Motion to Compel in Los Angeles Superior Court) and SmartRules will unite all relevant rules from all sources and distill them into a simple (task- and jurisdiction-specific) guide. SmartRules also provides expert commentary and is updated daily.

Court Dialing

Court Dial – Running late to a hearing? Forget your courtroom number? This app provides a quick and easy way to dial any courtroom in the country.

Payment Processing

LawPay – With the ability to separate earned and unearned fees when accepting credit cards, LawPay is the only payment program specifically designed for the legal industry.

Square – Allows credit cards to be collected on a mobile device for a fairly low percentage-based fee.

Additional Reading

ABA Section of General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Management – The “definitive source” of small firm information.

Attorney at Work – Created by “a small team of practice management experts and communicators,” Attorney at Work tries to give “enterprising lawyers” “everything you need to create a law practice — and a life — you can love.” Its articles cover everything from how to get clients to how to manage workload to how to choose which apps to use to how to handle disgruntled secretaries. Updated daily.

FindLaw’s How to Start a Law Firm – Articles on a range of topics, from financing to choosing a business entity.

Happy Go Legal – Started by two founders with backgrounds in both psychology and law, Happy Go Legal takes a holistic “lifestyle design” approach to providing resources and coaching to legal professionals — and others — trying to shape fulfilling careers.

IRS Starting a New Business Page – Helpful tax information on starting a new business.

Lawyerist.com – “The lawyering survival guide.” Covers everything from lawyering skills to marketing to legal technology to starting a law firm.

Legal Productivity – One of the better blogs I’ve seen on practice management for lawyers. Offers webinars and free law practice management videos.

My Shingle.com – Launched in 2002, MyShingle.com was the “first blog for and about solo and small firms.” The site includes thousands of blog posts, free e-books, and checklists and forms on starting and running a law firm.

Oklahoma State Bar’s Web Directory for Solos – Many links to resources for solo attorneys, including articles on fee agreements, client management, and marketing.

Small Firm Innovation – “Created in the wake of the financial crisis,” this site “delivers first-person insights and advice to solo and small-firm lawyers from leading experts and experienced colleagues on the business realities of running a law practice.” Categories include Accounting, Marketing, Outsourcing, Technology, and Work/Life Balance.

Small Firm Success – Neatly organized tips on Practice Management, Law Office Technology, and — unlike most other blogs related to solo and small practices — a separate section on Small Firm Ethics.

Starting Out Solo – SOS is a Massachusetts non-profit helping attorneys who want to start a practice straight out of law school, by operating a listserv to ask questions on practice management, substantive law, court procedures, etc., discounted tuition at Solo Practice University (see below), and a Shadowing Program that allows members to shadow another member on a legal matter (from a routine court hearing to a full-blown trial).