Practice Management

7 Essential Legal Software Categories for Law Firms

John Lehman
Apr 03, 2018

There are no two ways around it—computers and mobile devices have changed the way we live our lives. In the wake of this digital revolution, software and app developers have explored how these technologies can improve the day-to-day operations of nearly every industry, including the legal industry. As your firm continues to grow, it’s important that you consider adopting these technologies into your practice in order to make your routine tasks easier, as well as keep in step with both your fellow lawyers and your client’s expectations.

Below, we’ve listed seven categories of software with options that are meant to improve any law firm’s workflow.

Productivity

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A list of essential software would be incomplete without mentioning productivity tools, which are among the most widely used computer programs in the world. These include word processors, presentation programs, and spreadsheets. Most modern computers come with a basic word processing program already included with the operating system.

The oldest and most famous of these solutions would undoubtedly be the Microsoft Office Suite, which includes such household names as Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. However, many businesses today have switched to cloud-based solutions, such as Google’s G Suite, where creative teams can collaborate on documents in real time from separate machines. Best of all, G Suite is free of charge.

Timekeeping and billing

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As a lawyer, forming great billing habits isn’t always easy. Thankfully, there is software that can help streamline this tedious task. With timekeeping software, you can organize projects by client and run a stopwatch to track the time you’ve spent on each. Some of the most popular solutions today are mobile apps, where busy lawyers on the go can run their stopwatches from their phones or tablets.

The legal software industry has several fantastic solutions for timekeeping and billing available to suit the specific needs of all different types of firms We’ve listed our top picks below:

Payment processing

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In the Digital Age, it has become more and more necessary for lawyers to accept online payments for their services. In fact, a recent study conducted by TSYS showed that as much as 75 percent of customers today preferred to pay with a credit or debit card. And with payments being rendered with a few clicks of a button, businesses can get paid faster when online payments are available to their customers.

There are many generic payment solutions that allow businesses to accept credit and debit card payments online. However, most of them are built for retail and point of sale businesses, with features that won’t have significant use for a legal professional who relies on invoicing.

Because of this, it’s best to use an online payment processor designed specifically for the legal industry, like LawPay. As you process transactions, your fees will be properly separated between your trust and operating accounts and deposited accordingly. You’ll also avoid the risk of third-party transactions debiting from your IOLTA account.

Document management

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With every case you take on, there will likely be numerous documents and files to support it. Storing such sensitive data on your computer’s hard drive for extended periods of time is not recommended, as these documents could be compromised in the event of a cyber security emergency, such as a data breach.

A legal document management program can store these files within a secure digital vault, while also providing handy organizational features. There are many free file storage solutions available, such as Google Drive, with premium options available that can increase your storage limit. Other powerful and proven solutions that are popular in the legal industry include Netdocuments and Worldox. Many of these solutions are also cloud-based, allowing legal teams to access and collaborate on documents from wherever they are.

PDF conversion

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Not every document you receive in your day-to-day practice is digital. Some of your clients may have vital documents that predate the advent of personal computers, or that simply weren’t created in a digital form. With a PDF converter, you can use a scanner to scan a hard copy of a document and convert it into a digital file which can then be shared through email and cloud-services, or even searched like a word processing document with optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

The leading solution on the market is Adobe Acrobat, which has provided reliable PDF conversions for over 20 years. The latest version of Acrobat is only available through a subscription service, so more cost-conscious law firms looking for a powerful PDF conversion solution might find Icecream PDF Converter more appealing. It can be used with limited features for free, with a one-time premium cost to unlock the full version.

Password management

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Far too many professionals take little to no precautions when it comes to protecting their accounts and passwords from cyber criminals. With password management software, you can keep your accounts secure by storing all of your passwords within a secure application, which you can use to readily recall your password when you need it. Since the app remembers your passwords for you, you have the freedom to create complex, hack-proof passwords that you could never remember on your own.

One of the post popular and powerful options for password managers is LastPass, a premium web browser extension and mobile app that is compatible with nearly every browser and operating system, respectively. If you like the idea of an app securely storing your private data, you may find DashLane appealing—aside from passwords, it can also store billing addresses, credit card data, identification cards, and other personal information.

All-in-one practice management

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Despite the variety of capable, special-purpose software options, some law firms prefer to use a legal industry software product that can do a little bit of everything. These practice management solutions, as they are often called, come with an impressive collection of features—from document and case management to timekeeping, billing, calendaring, and email organization and even payment processing—all from one application.

As you might expect, there are many excellent practice management solutions on the market. We’ve listed some of our favorites below:

Regardless of which product you choose, your practice is certain to benefit from taking advantage of the latest technology designed to help run your law firm more efficiently. To learn more about how LawPay can help your firm grow, visit our solutions page.

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