Case management software (CMS) can help a law firm manage cases, clients and firm matters. While CMS has been around for some time, many law firms still are not yet using this tool. The trend continues that more and more law firms are finally implementing this useful organization management software to better run their cases and their law firms. Choosing this type of software can be a complicated process.
If your law firm has decided to make the move to a CMS, here are some questions you may have as you begin your search:
What is Case Management Software?
The definition of case management software is confusing because it can encompass so many different areas of your practice. Here are the different major areas that a CMS system may cover. Any one or a combination of these features are considered a CMS system.
- Case database
- Time tracking
- Document assembly
- Contact management
- Calendaring and docketing
- Time and billing
What Will a Case Management System Do For Me?
The question that needs to be answered before you begin looking for a CMS is “Do we really want to buy a CMS?” To answer that question, you’ll want to know what added value you get from a case management system. Here are a few of the benefits you might receive as a result of using a CMS.
What are the Benefits of Case Management Software?
1. Case management software can manage deadlines
One of the largest tasks of legal professionals is handling all of the deadlines that are a part of any lawsuit. Case management software will help you manage these deadlines so you never miss an important date. Many of the software options will allow you to enter deadlines relating to each case, and will automatically add them to your calendar.
2. Organize Client Files
All of the information relating to a client can easily be kept in one area with a CMS. You can enter case description, deadlines, contact information of parties and participants, notes on the case, task lists related to each case and much more. You typically have all of this information, but do you have it in one area? A CMS will allow you to quickly and easily access this information.
3. Automated Time and Billing Entries
Most software will have the ability to take a calendared event and, with a few clicks, record it as billable time. You won’t have to write your billable time on a paper to then be entered into a billing system every month. This type of automation can save a lot of time that you and your staff can be using on other tasks.
4. Coordinates Communication
Because you’ll have all of the contacts of participating parties in one place, it now becomes much easier to find the contact information when you need it. If you’ve ever spent several minutes looking for an old email in order to get someone’s address, you know how much time it would save you to be able to open up the CMS file and retrieve exactly the address you want, when you want it.
5. Document Retrieval
When it’s time to organize a case, currently you have to pull information from many different sources. Briefs and pleadings are in a folder on your server, transcripts are in a stack on a shelf, email messages are in your email system. With case management software, all of these pieces of information will already be in one place. Now when it’s time to organize a case, much of the work will have already been done for you.
6. Work From Anywhere
Many of the software options are currently available online. This means you can access them from any computer with an internet connection. You simply go to the website, sign on, and continue working. You can work from home or any other remote location. This can be a big advantage when you’re traveling as you’ll be able to better use your down time to stay productive.
Which software should you buy?
Once you have decided to purchase a CMS, where do you begin? Here is a list of some of the case management software options that are available that you may want to investigate.
- Abacus Law
- Amicus Attorney
- Credenza Pro
- Legal Files
- Rocket Matter
- Total Attorney
There is a lot of variation in these software options. Some will include more of the areas of case and law firm management than others. Some will do one or two specific tasks very well. It’s important to compare the software options to see which has the features you need.
Because there are so many to choose from, you may feel overwhelmed by the task of beginning the research. The American Bar Association offers an excellent resource, “Practice/Case Management Software Comparison Chart for Solo/Small Firms.” This chart compares and contrasts the different features of many of the choices. While it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the case management software options, it’s a good place to start.
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