Look before you leap: what to think about when choosing your legal software

Category: Blog, Technology 4th August 2020

How we interact with technology continues to change as our expectations and requirements shift. With the legal software market continuing to change in response to the ways in which firms are working during the pandemic, you probably feel some pressure to review your computer systems, if not actually to change them…

You may wish to take advantage of new technologies and to keep a competitive edge for your practice.

But with an overwhelming variety of opinions and advice available, along with the marketing claims of the suppliers, choosing a system that meets your expectations is often a difficult process.

What features does your legal software need?

Benefits of a cloud-based system

Cloud software runs across multiple servers and locations, removing any single points of failure and providing unparalleled uptime. The cloud was made with the purpose of protecting data, which is why it is undoubtedly more secure than your own server or machine.

Security

Due to economies of scale and the provider’s investment in their product, cloud-based systems are far more secure and robust than the ‘traditional’ model server. Is there data simply stored in an office or held centrally which have multiple levels of security they are anonymous locations, which are manned by experts 24/7?

Mobile options

It’s important to have the option to work remotely and at a time to suit fee earners, so ensure your provider is able to offer mobile options – ask for a demo of their case management software’s mobile version. Does it work across multi-platforms?

Ease of use

The system needs to be easy to use so the firm can adopt it quickly. We recommend trying to open new matters, record time, finances etc. Ensure it works for your firm

Feedback

No case management provider is going to tell you about their poor reviews or advertise their dissatisfied customers. Do your due diligence and check for reviews including asking the provider to supply you with details of happy customers that use their software. Try to speak to ones that are a similar size to your firm.

Integration

Another benefit of cloud-based systems is their ability to interact seamlessly with the programmes you already use – and wish to retain. Be sure to ask your provider about integrations so that your services aren’t interrupted.

Cost

Unfortunately, some case management providers use the tactic of enticing new clients with a price that seems too good to be true.  If it seems that way, then it almost always is. Don’t be tempted to go with the lowest quote; it isn’t necessarily the cheapest – or the best – in the medium to long-term. 

Ask whether the monthly retainer is ‘all inclusive’ i.e. are there any additional costs such as installation, data migration, or maintenance. It’s also worth checking when the price will be reviewed, as we often hear about huge price hikes after 12 months.

Once you have an understanding of what features your case management software will need to have, it’s important to know how to find the package that suits these needs.

Choosing from a crowded market

Depending on time constraints choose around five case management suppliers, but preferably no less than three, and invite them in to give a detailed demonstration.

Not surprisingly, the sales rep will have a demonstration script and will show you all the bits they want to, to promote their ideas and focus on what makes their offering look good.

It’s a good idea to think about your current software and what you like and dislike to see how the new legal software product compares. It can be beneficial to make a list of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” and tick these off throughout the demonstration.

They will invite you to ask questions, but don’t be afraid to interject and ensure you get what you want from the demonstration. Make a list of questions you want to ask and press for a definitive answer. If you’re still unclear, ask the sales rep to demonstrate the feature to you.

It’s important to remember you’re not just buying a tool, you’re investing in a solution that should provide your business a return on that investment.

Any sales rep will be able to make their legal software product look great (it’s their job after all!) but a good one will know how their product solves your problems and adds real value to your business.

Ask your sales rep for login details so you can get a feel for the case management system. Again, a good sales rep demonstrating good legal software will have no problem with this.

Last, but not least, be ready to listen to new ideas. That was, after all, where the process started.

Due diligence

The next step is your due diligence, to ensure this is the kind of company you want to engage with. Ask for some references about their legal software.

A telephone call can often suffice but depending on the scale of the implementation you may ask for a site visit to be arranged and perhaps a second or even a third demonstration.

At the same time, you should be reading the contracts and ensuring you have the correct number of licences to suit your needs.

If you’ve done all this, then you’ve put yourself in a great position to avoid any nasty surprises – but that won’t necessarily stop the supplier providing you with a quote much higher than you had expected with a host of “add-ons”.

Our holistic approach

That leads us to the Osprey Approach and our holistic view of providing software and building a relationship with you and your firm.

We believe:

  • The legal software must look and feel great and should be constantly reviewed, renewed and reinvigorated in a continuous development life cycle.
  • The software must be web-based and accessible from anywhere in the world at any time of the day.
  • You shouldn’t pay for training. It should all be performed online and be free of charge throughout the term of the agreement. The same for the support service.
  • You should expect to have mobile apps available for both Android and iOS and your supplier should be continuously adding and developing more apps to suit the changing needs of law firms.

With 30 years of experience and as a pioneer throughout that time we believe our “Approach” is the right one for legal software.