What software do I use to run my law practice?

As many of you know, I am a licensed lawyer in Ontario, Canada (that is why it is 7secondblog.ca). I was called to the bar in 1999, but started to split my time in 2000 between law and consulting. I have been back to law part time for a year and a half. I started working with a small firm in Toronto.

Firm profile was 2 lawyers, 1 staff, 1 student working exclusively in criminal law in busy Greater Toronto courts. It was a high volume court based business. Lawyers and staff are in courts daily and can be 60-90 minutes travel to the office. Mobility was critical. Data had to be available all of the time to all devices – laptops, computers, tablets and phones. I had set the firm up with Time Matters a few years earlier and it was managing the calendar, which was being printed and given to people as they drove to the court houses. This was acceptable to them.

When a went back into practice, the Time Matters implementation was not good enough and did not meet my needs.The firm did not have a server. It had a few workstations. Early mornings as all of us were preparing for court, there was not enough computers to look at the calendar and information. Ever worse, if we did not have time to travel to the office, the logmein on the computers was probable in use. We were left with a decision to mobilize Time Matters and increase its foot print or look at something else. As we were in Toronto, everyone had Blackberries and a Playbook was even added.

We decided to move to Advologix. The Force.com platform is cloud based, therefore we did not have to expand the hardware in the office. Each person could bring their own device and access the force.com platform in anyway they needed. Balckberries, computers and the playbook was quickly added. I converted the data from Time Matters to Advologix over a weekend and we were operational Monday am. As this firm was not an early adopter of technology I was surprised that the move to the cloud and the appearance of Advologix was almost no transition at all for anyone. I suspect everyone is used to websites and easily adapted to Advologix.

Being a 10+ year Law Office technology consultant I quickly modified firm policy and practice. The firm was still very paper intensive. Disclosure from the crown mostly comes in paper format and many times additional disclosure is faxed. Paper files are maintained. I did implement a series of high level metrics to ensure each matter was being serviced at a level that was acceptable to everyone in the firm. As everyone is mobile, I quickly discovered that I had to push these high level reports to the user to ensure they were looking at the right times. Salesforce schedule reporting works like a charm and the stakeholders in the firm receive emails containing these reports. I will expand on this later and provide more detail.

I did decide to leave the big city and move to a small town and open a solo practice. With a focus on criminal and child protection law that has to share my time with technology consulting, I was again faced with the question of the software to choose for my small army of 1.  Being a 10+ year consultant in Time Matters and PCLaw I looked to them first.

Problem though is that I am very mobile and my expectation is that my office has to be wherever I want it to be that day…. home, office, coffee shop, in court as I wait my several hours to be heard by a judge, law library. As a consultant, we have had our business in the cloud for a number of years, so I don’t have much software installed locally. Support and Help Desk with www.zendesk.com, email with Google Apps, Help documentation with www.screenstepslive.com, online project management with zoho, cloud synchronization and storage of documents with sugarsync, Box,net, dropbox…evernote, mindmapping with mindmeister and more…

Wait until next time to see what I have gone through…. and I have even looked at and had trials of all of the current software in the market including Clio, MyCase, HoudiniESQ, Advologix, Time Matters and PCLaw.

Posted in Cloud, Matters360, PCLaw, Time Matters