10 Questions to Ask Before You Get Law Practice Management Software

Law practice management (LPM) software is amazing… if it solves all your problems. Even after researching several vendors, it took a while to figure out the ins and outs of finding just the right software that’s easy to use, has all the features and functions I need, and is affordable. Here are the questions I would ask if you’re considering investing in LPM software:

  1. Is the software priced per user or per month/year? The price goes up quickly depending on how many users you have. Also, who is considered a user? Even if you have 10 people internally accessing documents with “read only” permissions, are they considered users? Make sure you’re not paying for 10 licenses when you only need 2.
  2. What are the necessary steps to implement the software? LPM systems may require a lot of work to set up if you don’t have all the information you need to start. Do you have all the effective dates of your agreements, parties’ names, addresses? If you don’t have all of that information in a spreadsheet, you’re in for a big surprise and hassle. Make sure you have all the info you need for a smooth implementation.
  3. How can they help you implement the software? In addition to providing the software, companies often provide support to get you set up and answer any questions you may have along the way. Ask them how much support they provide, what it costs, and if they provide assistance if you’re missing key pieces of information you need to get started (See # 2).
  4. Is there a “satisfaction guarantee?” Let’s say you get everything set up and after 30 days, you HATE the software. It’s difficult to use, it’s taking forever to implement, and it’s just not what you were expecting. Make sure you can get out of the contract if you’re not happy with it. It’s hard to anticipate all the problems that can pop up when setting up new software, but make sure you can try it before you buy it.
  5. Is it scalable? If your law firm is growing, and you’re bringing on new associates, will the software allow for more users, contracts, more data, or is there an additional cost to it as your business grows?
  6. Does it have all the features you’re looking for? I recommend making a list of your wants and needs. Be crystal clear with the vendor on what you expect (get it in writing) and make sure they can provide all of the features you are looking for. If you want the ability to track deadlines, edit templates, track all communications related to a document, and e-signing capabilities, let the vendor know up front.
  7. Does it work with other systems? If you want the software to work with your email, calendar, and cloud service provider, make sure it has these capabilities. Otherwise, it may be a nightmare to use. The goal is to make your life easier, not more complicated.
  8. Can you access it on all devices? Let’s face it, most of what we do these days is on our phones. If you’re out of the office, will you be able to access the documents and emails you need through the software? Is there an app or at least a mobile-friendly site? If this is a must for you, make sure the company can provide it.
  9. Are the updates free? Make sure the company is going to keep up with the technology, provide all updates for free and at times that are convenient for you. You don’t want to have an upgrade pop up in the middle of the day and get charged for a feature that all other providers give their users for free.
  10. Who else uses the software? If the company is brand new, you may want to be an early adopter and try them out. But chances are, you want something that’s tried and true. Ask the provider if they have other users, how many, and to drop some names. Also, look them up online and see if they have any reviews. If you see 2/5 stars, maybe wait until they have all their issues fixed before signing on.

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