Managing Your Law Firm Remotely: How to Get Started + Top 7 Tools

If you’re looking to stay on top of business at your law firm during this COVID-19 crisis, having a reliable law firm management tool by your side can be a huge benefit.

In truth, if you don’t already have some sort of law practice management software installed for your firm, you may be a bit behind the times. As the American Bar Association reports in its 2020 Legal Technology Survey, 53% of all law firms now use practice management software. 

This means pandemic or no, practice management software should be a crucial part of how your law firm conducts business. However, as is often the case, deciding to invest in management software for your firm is much easier said than done.

If you’re looking to pivot to remote management services, what do you need to get started right?

What should you look for in great practice management software and how do you go about making a choice? 

We understand that starting can be a bit tough, so we’ve done the legwork for you. In this article, you’ll learn all you need to get started right, plus a list of top practice management software you can try out today. Let’s get started.

Preparing for Remote Law Firm Management

As you begin your foray into remote law firm management, things may get a bit confusing or overwhelming. That’s perfectly normal. On any good day, it’s quite a bit of work to migrate all your operations to remote management software, let alone in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. 

To be sure you don’t get overwhelmed by all the little details, it makes sense to try and straighten out your top-level approach.

Here’s some of what you can do to be sure you’re starting outright: 

  • Clarify your objectives: Understand exactly what you want to achieve with the migration and how you want to achieve it. Do you intend to move 100% of your operations online? Are there specific services you want to focus on at this period?

  • Set clear expectations with clients and staff: Remote law firm management only makes sense when it works like a clock. And this is only possible when everyone understands what to expect. Inform your clients of the move and how it will vary your services, and set clear job descriptions and procedures with staff.

  • Invest in appropriate equipment and tech: This goes without saying. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo, small, or medium law practice; you need the right equipment. This includes hardware, collaboration software such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, video conferencing software such as Zoom, and the most appropriate practice management technology for your law firm.

  • Keep a firm eye on productivity: It can be easy to lose time while working from home. To avoid this, implement time recording and reporting regular update routines, and even logs of tasks performed daily. This way you can keep an eye on your team and ensure that business is as usual.

  • Take cybersecurity seriously: Cybersecurity threats are more prevalent now than ever. Implement proper antivirus and security controls, including a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so you can use the internet securely. In addition, we recommend having a copy of Malwarebytes or Hitman Pro on your PC to protect you from accidentally visiting a website that has malware.

How to Pick the Right Law Firm Management Software for Your Firm

With the proliferation of legal software solutions on the market, it can be hard to choose amongst the varying options available. While some will promise to make your life easier, and actually deliver, others will not be a good fit for your practice. 

So, how do you go about selecting software that makes the most sense for your law firm? Consider applying this process: 

  • Understand what you should expect from the software: There are certain basic features that every practice management software should have. As a rule, this should include cloud-based computing and case/matter management.

  • Identify your firm’s specific needs: What features are most important for your law firm management? Are you more interested in case/matter management, client/contact management, or timekeeping than you are in trust accounting? Write down your most preferred features.

  • Narrow down your options using filters and your requirements: Filter your search to focus on a pool of only those providers that promise the features you want.

  • Trial 2-3 of the best options then select the one that works best: Most practice management tools include free trials. Check out your top 2-3 options before settling on the one that works best for you. 

Now that we’re clear on how to make your selection, let’s dive into some great options for law firm management software you can try. 

Top 7 Law Firm Management Tools 

The following is our selection of some of the top practice management tools available on the market today. We made this selection based on:

  • General acceptance amongst firms
  • Quality of available features; and 
  • Capability for use on mobile devices 

Here’s our list of the top 7 law firm management tools you can try out today. 

#1: Action Step 

A cloud-based practice management software that provides a full suite of features, including case management, business administration, and billing. Includes a 14-day free trial. 

  • Pros: Very complete law firm management solution, with sophisticated accounting, document management, and search function. It comes with all the bells and whistles and available on mobile. 
  • Cons: Initial setup can be a bit difficult; slightly higher starting price; users cannot really enjoy unless all features are utilized. 
  • Pricing: Starts at $60/month/user
  • Best fit: Fast-growing firm (1-50 lawyers)

#2: Bill4Time

Elegant, user-friendly, cloud-based solution with best-in-class time tracking, billing, and case management features. Used by thousands of lawyers. Includes a 14-day free trial. 

  • Pros: Established tool with complete tools for trust accounting, case/task management, document management, time tracking, and billing, and invoicing. Supports integration with popular apps and available on mobile. 
  • Cons: Not initially designed for law firms. Does not include a contact management feature
  • Pricing: Starts at $27/month/user
  • Best fit: Solo and small practices (1-9 lawyers)

#3: Clio Manage

One of the most widely used management tools on the market. A cloud-based tool with complete general practice management features. Includes a 7-day free trial. 

  • Pros: Complete law practice management suite with comprehensive time tracking, task/case/document management, and accounting features. It also supports the most integrations on the market (over 125) and available on mobile. 
  • Cons: Does not support creation or sending of emails internally through the application
  • Pricing: Ranges from $39-$115/month/user
  • Best fit: Small to medium practices (9-20 lawyers)

#4: CosmoLex

Cloud-based, all-in-one practice management software with full scheduling, email management, and client portal features. Includes a 14-day free trial.

  • Pros: User-friendly with lots of customer support and training. Unlimited document storage, invoicing and accounting (including credit card processing), and available on mobile.
  • Cons:  Slightly higher price point 
  • Pricing: Starts at $59/month/user 
  • Best fit: Small practices 

#5: MyCase

Secure, cloud-based solution with excellent case management features. Used by thousands of firms. Includes a free trial. 

  • Pros: Very strong case file management and client communication features. It provides a complete billing solution and also includes legal marketing tools. Available for mobile devices. 
  • Cons: Does not include email client or conflict checking features. Duration of the free trial also unclear 
  • Pricing: Starts at $39/month/user
  • Best fit: Small to medium practices 

#6: Practice Panther

Widely used, cloud-based practice management software, established since 2012 and adopted in more than 170 countries. Includes a 7-day free trial with 50% off the first 3 months. 

  • Pros: Powerful, easy-to-use general management and billing software with all the bells and whistles. It also includes a client portal for easy engagement with clients. Available on mobile. 
  • Cons: Does not have a built-in email client 
  • Pricing: Ranges between $39-$89/month/user
  • Best fit: Small to medium practices 

#7: Zola Suite

Convenient, cloud-based law firm management tool with LawPay, Quickbooks, and DropBox integrations. Includes a free trial as well. 

  • Pros: Includes a built-in email client, bulk billing and accounting, document and task management, etc. Supports mobile devices. 
  • Cons: Slightly high price point
  • Pricing: Starts at $59/month/user 
  • Best fit: Small practices 

Find the right practice management software to grow your business 

Now you know where to start on your search for the right legal solution, make it count by investing in quality law firm digital marketing to get prospects calling. Contact us at Lucky Fish Media and we’ll help you curate a growth plan that helps you achieve your goals.