Law practice management software
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Law practice management software is software designed to manage a law firm's case and client records, billing and bookkeeping, schedules and appointments, deadlines, computer files and to facilitate any compliance requirements such as with document retention policies, courts' electronic filing systems and, in the UK, the Solicitors' Accounts Rules as defined by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Because law schools do not generally teach new attorneys the business skills to run a law office, many offices have turned to technology to ease the learning curve and reduce clerical errors. The American Bar Association (ABA) has found that calendar and deadline related mistakes account for most legal malpractice claims. Therefore, an initial investment in software tools can yield long term savings in defending against such claims. In fact, the ABA has an entire section devoted entirely to law office management, of which software and related programs are an increasingly important part of its mission delivery. Many state bar associations also provide assistance and discounts to their members for such software. The main purpose of these programs is to allow a law firm to run more smoothly.
Case Management Software, used properly, improves efficiency, provides for conflict checking, and enables a law office to not have to search for the physical file each time a client calls with questions, thereby helping to reduce the need for callbacks since the client can get answers on an as needed basis at the time of their inquiry.
Development of the industry
Legal law office management is a growing business in North America and the United Kingdom due to the highly competitive market to gain customers. In the UK, the Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) is the industry body for legal software systems developers and vendors. Representing a selection of UK suppliers and chaired by the chairman of one of the suppliers, it claims that it sets and maintains professional standards within the industry and manage areas of mutual interest between lawyers and software providers – such as the Land Registry, LSC, Law Society & other legislative bodies.
Types of software
Software applications have become increasingly important in modern law practice. Picking the best software for a law office depends on many variables. Attorneys/Solicitors often buy their software based on their practice area. The New Jersey State Bar Association web site lists a variety of applications by substantive law (Bankruptcy, Collections, Estate planning and administration, and Real estate) as well as by practice matter (Calendar/Schedule/Docket Control, Case & Practice Management, Document Assembly, and Document Management).
Regardless of the type of law practiced, practice management software (a form of Customer relationship management software) is among the most important. Features of practice management software include:
- Case management (databases, checking conflicts of interest and statutes of limitations)
- Time tracking (for billing)
- Document assembly
- Contact management
- Docket management
- Client communication
Other software systems that are useful for law firms include: Password security, Disk encryption, Mindmapping, desktop notes, word processing, and email management. Some firms use modified versions of Open source software.
Most law firms also subscribe to a Computer-assisted legal research database for Legal research. Such databases provide Case law from case reporters, and often other legal resources. The two largest legal databases are Westlaw (part of West, which is owned by Thomson Reuters) and LexisNexis, but other databases also exist, including the free Google Scholar, and the newer Bloomberg Law, as well as Loislaw (operated by Wolters Kluwer) and several smaller databases.Some bar associations and lawyers' organizations have their own software.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Legal Practice Management Software.|
- National Law Journal (April 18, 2005) - "How Small Firms Can ward Off Malpractice Suits"
- Practice Management Software Comparison Chart from the ABA
- New Jersey State Bar Association official web site
- Amy Hall, Law Office Management Software, retrieved from Article Insider