Productivity Tip: Why Case Management Software Trumps Outlook

by rocketmatter-admin October 15, 2008

This snippet is an older SOLOSEZ post (July 2008) from Ross Kodner, Microlaw founder and legal technology guru.  His excellent, no-nonsense advice is a regular feature on the ABA’s SOLOSEZ listserv.

Here, Ross talks about the importance of a firm getting it right from the start.  He advises using dedicated legal practice management software,  instead of “trying to twist and turn Outlook to match the abilities of case management products.”

Using case management software has nothing whatsoever to do with your
practice’s billing methodology. Whether you have an hourly, flat-fee,
contingent fee, value-billing, barter for sheep practice and/or some blend
of the previous, it’s irrelevant to the case management decision. If you
have clients and cases, you have case information that needs tracking,
period. And to do this any way other than using an actual practice
management system is doing it:

a) The hard way, unnecessarily, and
b) The most expensive way, usually in terms of the economic/opportunity cost
from all the time you’ll waste trying to make a proverbial silk purse out of
a sow’s ear (i.e. trying to twist and turn Outlook to match the abilities of
case management products).

With that said, from a “best practices” perspective, if you intend to have
your practice succeed as a business in the long run, the time to get it
right in terms of core structural/skeletal systems, practices and procedures
is at inception. This means have real billing/bookkeeping software and sound
accounting practices right out of the gate. When your practice is growing
and humming along, you’re not going to have time to put on the brakes and
try and implement a completely new financial system after the fact. It makes
no difference what kind of billing approach you’ll take – you need to track
expenses in a contingent fee practice, you need to process client
settlements and awards and generate contingent fee settlement statements,
you’ll have trust activity and of course, every business has daily
bookkeeping needs for income tracking and bill paying, not to mention basic
P&L reporting and balance sheet accounting.

Take the right path and start by incorporating a “best practices” mentality
into your new practice, beginning today. Otherwise, later, you’ll kick
yourself and think “I wish I had done that from the beginning.”

If you like what Ross writes, signup for the SOLOSEZ listserv, or take a look at his Bar Code column at the Milwaukee Bar Association website.

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