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Part 2: ABA TechShow & LPM/PRP Systems – Feature sets

So before I give you my take on the LPM and PRP vendors, I want to further frame the discussion in terms of feature sets. Let’s face it, by this point features across most of these platforms are going to be the same or similar, but the difference is almost entirely on how they execute on a given feature and whether the execution resonates with you in a positive way.

With each vendor, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about all of their features because most have most of whatever features you think should be included (and in product demos, you don’t ever get a sense of exactly how many features they have). It’s better if I simply attempt to define that universe as I understand it and then point out the limitations, if any, of a given system. Most of my comments will be about user interface and experience issues anyway, but I like the idea of having a checklist.

In terms of categories, there’s overlap with all of these features, but this run down gives us a general sense of what is included in the concept of “legal practice management systems” or even “practice resource planning applications,” however that category ends up defined down the road. Either way, this is sort of a starting point. It’s most important to note that I’m pretty sure this checklist isn’t even definitive, but it suggests this idea that what each of these vendors is attempting to do is A LOT, and much of it might not even be for you. 1

Okay, if this list is weirdly wrong, email me at jasnwilsn@gmail.com and tell me how I fucked it up. Otherwise, this is what I’m going with.

Dashboards

  • All open matters (daily)
  • All tasks or “to dos” (daily)
  • Uncaptured time
  • P&L

Search

  • Universal
  • Limited

Case or matter management

  • Create matters
  • Assign teams
  • Client portals
  • Messaging
  • Ability to add notes to file
  • Set billing rates (hourly, flat, mixed)
  • Notifications on pending items or past due items (e.g., tickler systems)
  • Associated people, appointments, tasks, documents, emails, phone calls, time, expenses, bills, etc.
  • Custom fields
  • Conflicts checks
  • Set statute of limitations periods

Client or contact management

  • Client contact cards (name, address, phones, custom fields, payment notes, etc.)
  • Phone logs
  • Track emails per matter
  • Track correspondence

Document management

  • Document storage
  • Management tools (e.g., folders, matter tagging)
  • Assign documents to matters
  • Search
  • Share
  • Privacy settings
  • Versioning control
  • Editing in browser
  • Bulk uploads
  • Links to case databases automatically generated
  • Bates numbers support

Automated or guided Forms

  • User-generated automated forms
  • Vendor-assisted forms automation
  • Tied to client matter

Calendaring, events, and docketing

  • Create calendar entries
  • Associate entries with matters
  • Ability to see team calendar
  • Group settings, plus managing associated events
  • Privacy settings

Task & process management

  • Create tasks
  • Link tasks to matters
  • Track tasks
  • Assign tasks
  • Create predefined tasks on matter creation
  • Deadline assistants (rule-based calendaring)

Time management

  • Time tracking
  • Ability to link time to matters
  • Completion of task reminder to bill (ticklers)

Email

  • Built-in
  • Third party plug in

Accounting, expenses & billing

  • Built-in
  • Third party plug in
  • Tracking & allocating expenses (general ledger)
  • Trust accounting
  • Payroll
  • Credit card processing and ACH billing
  • Link to matters and to 3d party programs
  • Ability to generate invoices (and batch)
  • Assign transactions to trust or operating accounts
  • Create payment plans
  • Built-in predefined billing codes
  • Ability to provide discounts or change tax rates
  • Integration with Quickbooks (see below)

Third-party app integration

  • Integration with other providers (e.g., Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Google iCal, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Contacts, Box, Dropbox, EverNote, PayPal, LawPay, Law Charge, Quickbooks, etc.)
  • Track mail through UPS, DHL, USPS, etc. and attach tracking to client matters
  • Email integration similar to Outlook (using POP and IMAP)

Tablet & mobile

  • Tablet and mobile support apps to allow for access anywhere at anytime

Reporting

  • Ability to generate reports for all components from tasks to billing to bank account
  • Generate audit trails per user

Security

  • Database
  • Backups
  • Export features
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Encryption.

Data migration (“white glove” service)

  • Bringing in your CM data from one vendor to a new one

 

Notes:

  1. So at random, I picked a site that “compared” vendors, and the lead-in topics were (1) Is it in the cloud, (2) what is the billing or account integration situation like, (3) what third-party integration is provided, and (4) pricing. No shit. That was the teaser. Jesus, what people won’t do to sell a website, which is why I won’t link it here.

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