Presentation on theme: "Law Firm Management Technology For Home Offices & Small Law Firms William E. Olson."— Presentation transcript:
Law Firm Management Technology For Home Offices & Small Law Firms William E. Olson
Home Office Technology is the name of the game. Since you are not allowed any employees who aren’t family members to work in your home, at least in Lincoln, it becomes mandatory that you involve technology in your practice.
Required Equipment Phone with Answering machine/Voice Mail Fax machine Voice mail Copier Computer with word processing/spreadsheet/ capability.
Multi-Function Equipment Computer with Internet Service –Includes answering machine –Voice mail –Voice over Internet Protocal Combination printer-fax-scanner-copier Bundled phone/cable/internet packages
Ink jet v. Laser Printers Ink jet models less than $200 –CompUSA.com - All-In-One Printers » PrintersCompUSA.com - All-In-One Printers » Printers –Laser jet versions under $300. –Color laser jet models are pricier at around $600
A Well-equipped computer is less than $1,500, including Microsoft Office 2007 with Vista Dell Computing's Web site for current prices.Dell Computing's Web site Opt for MS Office vs. pre-loaded such as Microsoft Works® Do not rely solely on Microsoft Works to generate documents, spreadsheets, etc. because its files are not compatible with MS Office files.
Other Software which may be Pre- Loaded Money management program, such as Quicken® or Managing your Money®, eliminating the immediate need for more expensive and powerful accounting programs. Security/Anti-Spam such as Norton Internet Security is A MUST
Document Assembly Software Systems Do it Yourself Systems –HotDocsHotDocs –GhostFillGhostFill –PythagorasPythagoras –MS Word Templates –WordPerfect Merge
Off-The Shelf Document Management Systems Nebraska Probate System V Wills & Trusts Systems
High End Systems May/Should include Quite a bit of Authors’ Knowledge Should offer many clause options Should provide support –May require additional fee Annual Up front –Some support provided
Wealth Transfer Planning –Web Site: Interactive Legal SystemsInteractive Legal Systems –Authors: Jonathan Blattmacher and Michael Graham –Uses Hotdocs as its engine –Been around for years
Wealth Transfer includes extensive knowledge base –During Q & A session, rationale behind decision tree is almost always available –Guides the user through the process Pricing: –While certainly not cheap, it seems very competitive with other high-end systems
Cowles Legal Systems –Now owned by Thompson – West –Trust Plus ® Estate Planning System is the high end product –Website: Thompson-West Cowles Legal SystemsThompson-West Cowles Legal Systems –Trust Plus ® includes document assembly software modules See to review featureshttp://west.thomson.com/cowles/TrustPlus.aspx
–Similar Features to Wealth Transfer –Additionally, Cowles provides physical tools to make the end product appear “professional” supporting documents funding documents correspondence invoicing custom covers and envelopes documents for one-time data entry DocList.aspxhttp://west.thomson.com/cowles/TrustPlus DocList.aspx
Fore! Trust Software –Visit to see what this can do for you.http://www.4trustsoftware.com/ –Doesn’t appear to be “high end” since it is advertised as “not just for the Estate Planning Specialist” –Look at the “compare” page at where Fore! Compares itself to other products
For a list of Fore!’s templates, go to The basic price is $995. Pricing appears at the foregoing Web page, near the bottom. Hotdocs driven templates.
LawFirmSoftware.com sells its systems for Wills and Trusts –Estate Planning Pro Software, Version 5.0 Promotion Price: $ –If the price is right, visit the Web site at: te.htm te.htm
Wealth Counsel, LLC, which is a membership organizaation, offers WealthDocs –Web site is at –High End – High Price (see discussion at in earlier slides)
Build-it-Yourself with Document Assembly Engines Very Time-Consuming to do more than simple assembly systems Can be used effectively for basic forms, such as Deeds, powers of attorney, etc. Should be very tech-savy to create systems with HotDocs etc.
Backing up Files On-Line Solutions –For Review of Services and lists see the review at ConsumerSearchConsumerSearch –Can be as cheap as “free” External Hard Drives and similar media –Inexpensive – 500 Gigabytes for $175 or less –Requires Due Diligence –For reviews of current products see PC Magazine online PC Magazine online Importance of testing for failures
Calendar Systems MS Outlook as “cheap” solution –Very flexible –If combined in Network setting with MS Exchange, can be used office-wide –Not law-office specific Case Management systems, such as Time Matters® (now owned by Lexis/Nexis®), Amicus Attorney® and PracticeMaster,® a Software Technology, Inc. product are law firm specific systems which provide extensive docket control and calendar functionsTime MattersAmicus Attorney PracticeMaster Professional liability insurance carriers require at least two calendar systems
Conflict Checking New client intake should always include an internal conflict of interest check Paper systems based on a card file or other means, e.g., circulation of “new clients” list to other lawyers “Memory” systems based on asking the other lawyers is NOT the best methodology Practice Management and document management systems include conflict checking
Time & Billing Systems Most important management system for your practice Should contain the following elements: –Keep track of time by increments, usually in one-tenths, and by client names, numbers and matters –Produce draft statements in variety of formats
Time & Billing Systems Produce finished final statements on a variety of printers and formats Generate monthly billing/receipt reports by timekeeper tracking both billable and non- billable time
Time & Billing Systems Produce accounts receivable reports by client and attorney Keep track of client billings and payments by client and individual client matter Track and report billings and payments by practice area Integrate with word processing programs and case management systems
Time & Billing Systems Timeslips® which is widely available, is relatively inexpensive starting at $295 for the basic programTimeslips Tabs3 starts at $295
Trust Accounts Systems Separate account required Can use accounting systems and establish separate account, such as Quickbooks®, see discussion at QuickBooks TimesheetTime & Billing SystemQuickBooks TimesheetTime & Billing System Law Firm Specific software, e.g., Tabs3r - Trust Accounting SoftwareTabs3r - Trust Accounting Software
Document Management Create electronic versions of paper files Scan incoming documents and save them to client/matter file Save all internally created documents to client/matter file Save incoming and outgoing s to a client file Can result if almost paperless office Ability to access file from computer See Open Directory - Society: Law: Products: Practice Management: Software: Document Management for a fairly complete listing of document and case management softwareOpen Directory - Society: Law: Products: Practice Management: Software: Document Management
Case Management/Practice Management Case Management/Practice Management systems provide many of the functions of time/billing, docket control, document management functions Can provide basis for document assembly if fully utilized Small firm systems such as Time Matters®, Amicus Attorney® and PracticeMaster,® are priced at around $500 for single user licensesTime Matters Amicus AttorneyPracticeMaster See, e.g., the Amicus site at Amicus Attorney – Overview for a description of functionality of these systemsAmicus Attorney – Overview
Litigation Management Systems Defined at Legal Practice - Litigation SoftwareLegal Practice - Litigation Software For a fairly complete listing of the variations, see Case assessment and analysis with case management tools from LexisNexis Litigation Services for Firms Serving Individuals & S :: LexisNexis Case assessment and analysis with case management tools from LexisNexis Litigation Services for Firms Serving Individuals & S :: LexisNexis Could include electronic discovery in the category –See Electronic Discovery Software White Papers, Webcasts and Case Studies for a full discussion of this topicElectronic Discovery Software White Papers, Webcasts and Case Studies
Legal Research Alternatives to Books Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis are the “Cadillacs” of online research, but they come with a price Other alternatives exist The Nebraska Bar Association offers a free service to its members, CaseMaker, which is found at
Other Sources for “free” research Nebraska State Bar Association U.S. Government’s General Web Site Internal Revenue Service Library of Congress Government Printing Office Nebraska Courts Web Site Nebraska State Government Web Site Nebraska Legislature Web Site Securities and Exchange Commission
And now, a word about Metadata Metadata, or “data about data,” abound in MS Word files and other documents. What is “metadata?” Microsoft explains at Find and remove metadata (hidden information) in your legal documents - Help and How-to - Microsoft Office Online Find and remove metadata (hidden information) in your legal documents - Help and How-to - Microsoft Office Online
Why should you be concerned? Use of prior documents/versions Shared file with adverse (or friendly parties) May reveal client information not intended for release May reveal strategy of case or transaction
What to do about it? Buy a commercial “scrubber” program E.g., Payne Consulting Group’s Metadata AssistantMetadata Assistant Never send an attachment in MS Word that hasn’t been “scrubbed”