How to choose suitable software for your law firm

If you’ve decided you need to replace your law-firm software, your first port of call is to take a look at the latest offerings on the market. A simple search for a term like ‘Law Practice Management Software’ throws up a seemingly endless list of results, with each claiming to be easier to use than their competitors and solving each and every challenge your firm faces.

We highlight three key questions below to ask yourself, during the selection process and how to choose the best-fit software solution for your law firm:

  1. Should you get a cloud system or one installed on premises?

Our recommendation is straightforward: Go cloud. For a solo or small firm, the advantages of a cloud system far outweigh those of an on- premises system.

The most notable advantage of the cloud is the lack of need for any IT infrastructure or support. With a cloud system, simply sign up and start working. There is no hardware or software to purchase or install. Software upgrades are seamless. Security is robust and backups are automatic.

Other advantages of the cloud are:

  • mobility, meaning you can access your system anywhere on any device
  • scalability, meaning you can easily add or subtract seats as your firm grows or contracts
  • and pay-as-you-go subscription; meaning you can always change your mind.

2.  Is your data safe?

This is by far one of the most important questions for law firms. You’ll want to favour solutions built on the latest, best-of-breed technologies. And you’ll also need to understand whether the software is fully cloud-based, or if you’ll need to manage hosting yourself.

While hosting you own software applications gives you full control over where and how your data is stored, this requires resource and investment to manage. Many firms rely on third-party cloud infrastructure providers to provide this service, using their specialist skills, knowledge and time to implement and maintain effectively.

Some of the top considerations are the stability and reputation of the vendor’s company, your ability to have unrestricted access to your data, your ability to retrieve your data in a vendor-neutral format, how the company encrypts your data, how it backs up your data, and where it stores your data.

If you do consider a solution that requires data to be stored with the software provider, you’ll want to ascertain:

  • If the vendor has access to your data.
  • How data is protected and encrypted.
  • Where data is stored geographically and what physical protection is in place at the data centre.
  • Whether they’re compliant with relevant legislation & SRA guidelines.

Finally, understand how easy it is to export and retrieve your data. Whether you need to export data as part of operations or if you need to migrate at a future date, this should be something relatively easy to accomplish.

  1. How does it feel?

Last but not least is how it feels. Virtually all of software systems offer free trials. Take them for a test drive. Do you like the user interface? How easy is it to use on mobile devices? What training and support are available? What is the company’s reputation for customer service?

The bottom line is to carefully think through and outline your requirements in advance and then look for a system that best fits your requirements at the best price, considering also company reputation and customer support.

Client references are also important at this stage. Make sure you’re able to speak directly to them in order to find out what went well (and maybe not so well). You’ll get a good feel as to how smoothly the project went and how they’re using their software.

Assess the vendor’s team too. Find out the structure of the delivery team, who is responsible for what and talk to their support team. Do they seem knowledgeable and responsive? Is out of hours support available?

Most reputable vendors will be open and honest about any potential shortcomings with their solution. Whether the software can scale and grow with your team or work with your business processes, if answers are vague or skirt around potential issues, this could be indicative of a poor fit for your firm.

Finally, before you sign the dotted line, double check that any contracts reflect what you’ve been promised verbally. Taking the time to clarify any vague statements or terminology that you might not understand will ensure your solution lives up to its promises.

As you run through these questions and considerations, you’ll start to find that your list of options starts to shrink as you move closer towards the best software solution for your law firm.

Over the last 10 years, Computer Geeks have developed a formula that provides the ideal IT solution for you and your business. From our Bristol offices, we supply IT expertise locally and across the UK. Whatever your requirements, and whatever sector you operate in, we can support you through a bespoke service adapted to the needs and nature of your business. Contact us on 0117 325 0370 to find out more.