No one would debate that a law firm needs to use word processing programs. Consumer bankruptcy law firms would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to file petitions without document assembly programs. And, some type of time, billing and accounting software is mandatory for almost all law firms. Yet, legal practice management software (LPMS), which has been one of the most discussed, debated and reviewed legal software genres for the past decade, has just recently reached the threshold of being adopted by half of all firms. This low penetration rate is surprising in that LPMS arguably has more day-to-day impact and, after being used for a time, also provides functionality that no law firm would want to be without. [Read more…]
OTB has implemented LPMS for the past 2 decades. I’ve used some form or fashion of practice management software for the past 3 decades. This series of posts will draw on our vast experience and expertise in this area to help you determine whether LPMS is something that you need to invest in to drive efficiency and profitability in your law practice or business.
Having met with hundreds of law firms that were considering the implementation of Legal Practice Management Software (LPMS), we’ve seen our fair share of lawyers and law firms who view the cost of LPMS solely as an expense, failing to understand that it is an investment with a real return that will far exceed its costs. Let’s start with the cost.
When looking at the cost of a LPMS, there are two high level components: licensing and implementation. [Read more…]
Having defined what comprises good legal practice management software, why does a law firm need it? As with any decision a law firm makes when investing its limited resources, the firm should compare the total cost associated with the system against the economic return that the system brings the firm. If the return is greater than the cost, then it makes sense to invest in the system. With this in mind, what returns can a law firm expect from the use of a LPMS?
With just over half of all law firms in the United States utilizing some type of true practice management system (meaning a system other than Outlook or cobbled together applications acting as a LPMS), there must be a reason why law firms make this type of investment. The common advantages and returns of any type of LPMS are:
One of the problems with following a lot of people on Twitter is that your tweet stream gets so active that there really is no way to follow it. Even with a tool like HootSuite that let’s you slice and dice your stream, it helps to have the people you are following designated in lists. I, for example, have four lists:
- Personal – this is used mostly to track my kids’ Twitter use, but also to get notifications for kids sports, weather, school district news, etc.
- Law – this list is for lawyers, legal software consultants, legal software companies and the like.
- Tech stuff – for general technical information like Twitlistmanager, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, CNET, pcworld, PCMag, etc.
- Dawgs – this is for all the sports information about my beloved UGa Bulldogs.
Creating lists is easy, but what a pain it is to make sure that everyone you are following is assigned to the appropriate list. In Twitter, you have to click on the gear icon, then on the Add list option, then select the list, and then Save. Totally unmanageable.
NetDocuments released its 15.1 update in early February 2015. Go here for the full NetDocuments 15.1 Update Notes.
There were a number of significant enhancements in 15.1:
Advanced Search Redesigned
The Advanced Search module was redesigned and streamlined. The UI has been tightened considerably, making it an easier component to work with. Also, less used fields can be hidden, so as to simplify the searching process. When tabbing from field to field, lookup buttons are skipped and can be accessed by a more universal F2 function key. See the video below or the Advanced Search Help for more information.
Legal Practice Management Software (LPMS) accumulates and aggregates all the relevant information about a case or matter – litigation or transaction – so that it can be easily accessed and used by lawyers and their staff. It is, in essence, an electronic case/matter file. While there is no set rule, basic practice management programs have four primary components: calendaring, task management, people management, and case/matter management.
The newest data indicate that bankruptcy filings continue to decline. Bob Lawless over at Credit Slips reports that the February 2015 filing data show a 10.1% year-over-year decline. This is the 52nd straight month of year over year decline.
If we are looking for a silver lining from the consumer bankruptcy attorney perspective (with which we are obviously aligned), the data charted in the blog post clearly show that the decline has flattened out considerably from the steep 2008 – 2011 decline. Coupled with the departure from the practice area of a substantial number of the attorneys who jumped into consumer bankruptcy around 2008 – 2009, established bankruptcy attorneys have reason to be cautiously optimistic that this trend has bottomed out. I always find it a little uncomfortable to hope that more people will have to file bankruptcy, but based on general economic data and news, as well as the filing data, it would seem that that filings will continue to flatten out with an eventual increase – it’s just a matter of when.
Not all the news is bad, unless you practice in Alaska. While the general filing trend is flattening out, it really depends on where you are located. In another post and in the comments, Bob Lawless and Credit Slips readers discuss the trends for each district. The deep south, good. Alaska, not so much.
Having reviewed this graph with our BKexpress clients in mind, I think one should dig a little deeper into this graph before taking it as good or bad news. For example, Nevada appears as a red state meaning that the per capita filing is high. Yet, the District of Nevada has suffered a wild roller coaster ride with one of the most precipitous declines in bankruptcy filings going from 11,000 filings in 2007, to 30,000 in 2010, 17,000 in 2012, and then dropping to 9,000 in 2014.
While this post may be helpful to any user of software that stores its data in a Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL), it will be most applicable to OTB’s Time Matters users.
When you store your data in MS SQL, you obviously have to make sure it gets backed up. For many years, Time Matters did a fairly poor job at providing a robust backup solution. Most Time Matters consultants looked for alternatives outside the program, and many of us were pleased to find SQLBackupAndFTP. Even as the internal backup capabilities improved in recent versions of Time Matters, it doesn’t come close to what you can do with SQLBackupAndFTP and there is still no reason to use the internal backup solution when such a robust solution exists and is free.
There are a number of reasons this is a great piece of software, but toward the top of the list is that they provide a free version that will likely be sufficient for most time Matters users. At OTB we use their paid-for version as we need to backup more than 2 databases, want the expanded online storage alternatives, and want to encrypt our backups. But, if all you need to is to backup Time Matters, and perhaps one other database, it is free of charge.
Stop by and talk with us at the upcoming North Carolina Annual Bar Association Annual Meeting in beautiful Wilmington.
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