and comments about certain software
products or services. This information is
certainly helpful and should be a part of
your online research. But pay attention to
the author. Is it a lawyer, a consultant or a
vendor? Read through the filter of a “
consultant’s eyes”—for example, many people
will blame a product for failing to perform
when in fact the user has not been properly trained or is otherwise lacking information. Also remember that people are more
likely to voice their opinion when they
have a complaint than when they are satisfied. Don’t forget to read the testimonials
on the vendors’ websites. Of course the
vendor is going to only post positive comments, but reading these will give you
insight to the size and types of firms who
have found success with the product and
the features (timekeeping, calendaring,
In my recent online research, I came
upon Capterra, which describes itself as
“the smart way to find business software.”
It allows vendors to provide detailed information (according to Capterra’s structure), invites input from users to “review”
software with commentary and a 5-star rating system, provides a link to the vendor
website, and search filters. I was fascinated.
Capterra appears to be a fairly young
company, as most of the products listed
have yet to post content by vendors, comments or ratings, but this seems like a great
idea. Also, I notice that there are some
very popular products listed that either
have little, no or negative comments. I am
left thinking that the vendors who shine
best have a strong force of staff, consultants or users who are at home with social
Let this be a wake-up call to the other
vendors. Of particular interest is the
June 24, 2015, Capterra article
on “The Top 20 Most Popular
Practice Management Software,” an
infographic that includes their survey questions and responses:
Finally, as you may have narrowed down your research to two
or three software products, look for
the “Free Trial or Evaluation”
download. The large suite of software and services vendors will not
likely offer this, but most of the
other vendors do. The trial periods
vary from 14 to 30 days, so you will
want to plan accordingly to get the full
benefit of the time before you download.
Lawyer Friends and Listservs
Go ahead, now. Ask your lawyer friends.
Post a question on the listserv or Facebook
page: “What do you use?” By this time,
you will be able to qualify that question
more specifically by adding, “I am the
managing partner in a three-lawyer firm
with four support staff, practicing in the
area _____. I do (do not) wish to keep my
software and data on the vendor’s computers.” By this time, you may even be more
familiar with some of the software so that
you can discuss them more intelligently
with other lawyers.
ments or public lawyers. Most all software
is priced per user. Some charge more for
the first user, then less for additional users.
Or for cloud software, they may price it
higher for attorney users and less for support staff users.
Be aware that many vendors do not
publish a purchase price because they want
you to contact them for a quote. Don’t be
shy. Request a quote. They want an opportunity to talk with interested shoppers. But
here is your chance to plead your case,
negotiate your deal. At the very least, you
will know whether to cross this
product off your list.
Depending on what you are
searching for, here are some search
terms you can try: law firm, legal-specific, software, case management, practice management,
accounting, time and billing, time
tracking, document management,
document assembly, e-discovery,
file sharing, client portal (so your
clients can log in to see their
appointments, bills and documents), outsourcing, virtual, software, services.
If you practice in certain areas of law,
add those terms to your search—family
law, wills and estate planning, personal
injury, public defender, and so forth.
Adding terms like sole practitioner, small
firm, large firm may be helpful. Just
remember, the more words you enter, the
fewer “hits” you will receive. So, if you are
not finding many software products, you
need to try another combination of words.
Watch the videos, and read about the
features. But as your research becomes
more refined and targeted, you should
have no problem finding the “DEMO”
button or menu and requesting a demo
from the vendor. They will schedule a one-on-one walk-through of their product.
This is a very time efficient way of learning
about a product.
Go ahead and search the reviews, blogs
Many vendors do not publish a purchase price because they want you to contact them for a quote. Don’t be shy. Request a quote.
Shopping for Legal-Specific Software & Services
The Well-Oiled Law Office Machine