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Practice and case management software provides attorneys with a convenient method of effectively managing client and case information, including contacts, calendaring, documents, and other specifics by facilitating automation in law practices. It can be used to share information with other attorneys in the firm and will help prevent having to enter duplicate data in conjunction with billing programs and data processors. Many programs link with personal digital assistants (PDAs) so that calendars and schedules are always handy. Some case management packages are Web-based, with more on the way, allowing anytime access to all features.
Practice and case management programs vary in their compatibility by firm size and features. Firm size ranges from solo practitioners to small, medium, and large law firms. Some programs may not be suitable for larger firms, but may contain features that effectively service a solo or small firm. When selecting a case management program, determine your case management needs first. Pick a program that enhances your practice seamlessly and effortlessly, which is not necessarily a program with every available function to implement. If you need assistance in assessing the needs of your firm, consider a consultant. Consultants can be found by referral, on e-mail lists, in the yellow pages, or on-line.
Some Features and Functions of Practice and Case Management Software Include:
Information on all of your cases and matters is accessible through a centralized database; Manages to-do lists; Fast & flexible searching; Conflicts of interest checking; Checks statue of limitations
Records billable time on an hourly, contingent, transactional, or user defined fee individually or firm-wide; Links to time, billing, and accounting programs
Drafts documents; Links to word processing programs
Tracks, logs, and stores details about phone calls. e-mails, and other corresponsdence; Callback reminders
Calendaring & Docketing
Allows staff to view tasks, deadlines, appointments, and meetings by day, week, month, or year; Calculates calendar dates; Schedules appointments and meetings
Time & Billing
Tracks billable time; Generates client invoices; Links to time tracking and accounting programs; Creates reports for individual billing attorneys
A comparison chart with information on serveral practice/case management software prodcuts is available in printer-friendly Adobe Acrobat format (PDF). This chart shows features available from a sampling of legal specific practice/case managementsoftware packages. The features listed represent the vendor's solo/small law firm solutions. As vendors may offer other packages, please check each vendor's Web site for additional details and contact information. This chart is not a comprehensive review of time and billing software.