If you have been an attorney running your own firm, if you attend regular bar association conferences or are a lawyer that is still breathing (that’s a joke😉), you have no doubt been bombarded by the highly competitive case management system craze!
You know you need a new system. Something isn’t working and hasn’t been for years, so you finally decided to take the plunge! Now that you have been wading through all the possibilities, you suddenly feel like the ship is capsizing from tidal wave of options pouring in!
It’s a big decision and you don’t want to make a mistake. Your clients have daily needs, your firm has daily needs and then there are the tasks that seem to never get done and the family that never gets the attention you want to give them.
Check out this awesome site by Capterra that ranks many of the case management systems for law practices including reviews, pricing rankings and general features in an easy to compare format. Click here to look at the system comparisons and sort by “highest” ranking instead of sponsored.
While looking for new softwarethere are some best practices to consider when you are weighing your options.
- Buy based on integration options, not on look and feel. The more the system integrates with other key systems, such as intake systems and conflict check systems, accounting systems for firm financials, email systems for documentation and more…the more efficient your team and firm will be freeing you up to focus on client needs.
- Get Buy-In from key users in your firm. An Attorney, Paralegal and Office Manager/Administrator should sit in on demos and give their feedback. Your IT team is critical to ensuring you have the right infrastructure to support
- Communicate and educate. Bringing employees in the loop sooner rather than later will prepare them for change. Setting up educational opportunities so everyone has a baseline familiarity prior to launch is critical to the conversion success. Manage expectations with your team so they keep a positive attitude and are realistic about the bumps that come with change.
- Truly do your research. Getting feedback from firms using the software and comparing at least 3 systems will give you peace of mind when you decide. Rushing this choice will cost you in the long run. You can also partner with Legal Back Office to take the headache out of researching as they can do this work for you.
- Make a choice based on needing customizations. Instead, adjust your processes to systems that have been developed over years and perfected with the input of firms across the globe. All software will say they can customize to a certain degree, but it is never as smooth or as cheap as you would like.
- Back out of conversion because it feels overwhelming. If your instincts are telling you its time, your clients are starting to complain of lack of access or digital ways to work with and/or if your administrative overhead is growing…it’s time. Don’t duct tape something that you will pay for dearly in the long run.
Once you have converted, there are some simple best practices to roll out in your organization that can assist with a smoother transition.
- Fully utilize the system and all its capabilities. Often a system can do far more than it is used for and expense is wasted on other systems that can be removed and thus eliminating the cost. Some examples are document management, conflict checks, billing and invoicing, project management, bookkeeping/accounting and more can be eliminated as these functions are usually rolled into a lot of case management programs.
- Provide a weekly quick training on new features. Help your team digest the new system in small pieces. Highlight a feature for 30 minutes that will improve processes and help save your team time. They WILL pay attention!
- Check in with the key stakeholders weekly for the first month. Your project champions can help work out kinks and keep the office positive. Some people will suffer in silence and getting feedback from their peers is easier than going to the boss. Find solutions quickly to these pop -p issues.
- Don’t change your mind after 3 months and roll back to an old system. It takes time to adjust to change and you just invested a lot of time, effort and cash into the future of your firm. If you are frustrated with the system and it’s popular in the industry, it’s not likely the system that is the issue. You may need to better educate, dedicate personnel to correcting issues or just give your people time to adapt to change.
Effectively utilizing technology is critical to the success of all law firms today. We know choosing a system and converting can be overwhelming. Don’t go it alone and partner up with a dedicated internal or outsourced team that can help calm the chaos!