As technology moves forward, it eases the workload and learning curves in many fields and helps individuals and organizations to save time and effort. Law practice management software are designed and used to manage the case and client records that law firms have, as well as manage bookkeeping, billing, appointments and schedules, and meet deadlines. Their overall main purpose is to allow law firms to run more smoothly.
Generally, law schools do not teach new attorneys the business side and the skills needed to run a law office. As a result of this, many law offices use technology in order to ease the learning curve that new attorneys have to face and reduce clerical errors. In addition, software is used to facilitate compliance requirements, for example with document related policies, with the electronic filing systems that courts have, and in the UK, with Solicitors’ Account Rules, which were defined by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In the United Kingdom, LSSA (Legal Software Suppliers Association) is the body for legal software vendors and developers.
The ABA (American Bar Association) has discovered that deadline and calendar related mistakes make for most legal malpractice claims. This resulted in an initial investment in software that can yield savings in defending against claims of legal malpractice. In addition, the American Bar Association has a team devoted to law office management, and software is a significant part that is constantly growing. State bar associations generally provide assistance as well as discounts for their members to use law practice management software. Some lawyers’ organizations and bar associations have their own software.
When used properly, this type of software improves efficiency, provides conflict checking, and it also frees law offices from having to search for physical files every time a client contacts them, since they can access files rapidly, thus reducing the need for callbacks in order to answer to the client’s inquiry.
Picking a software usually depends on a number of variables, and attorneys usually acquire their software based on the law area in which they practice. Regardless of the type of law that the office is specialized in, features that the application should include are time tracking, document assembly, client communication, and docket management, among others. Smokeball law practice management software, for example, includes a number of calendar related features that helps attorneys track time automatically, sync calendars to other platforms (such as Outlook or Google Apps), and have the ability to see the entire staff’s calendar.
Besides the law practice management software, a law firm might find useful separate systems that offer password security, desktop notes, word processing, disk encryption, and email management. In addition, a majority of law firms are subscribers to a database of Computer-assisted legal research. This allows legal research, as the database provides case law and reports and other legal resources. The two biggest databases are LexisNexis and Westlaw, but law firms use other databases as well, such as Google Scholar, which is free to use, Loislaw, and Bloomberg Law, or other smaller databases.