All-In-One Legal Practice Management Systems: Why They Aren't Right for Your Firm 

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In a world where technology moves so fast that it can be challenging to keep up, anyone trying to run a successful law firm may sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the task management and matter management options available.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Most legal professionals know the term “all-in-one legal practice management software” but don’t realize that they have choices outside of it for running and operating their law firms.
  • Not only is all-in-one legal practice management software no longer necessarily needed for a law firm’s management solutions, but it may not even be the best choice any longer for most modern law practices.
  • Building a tech stack of a la cart software options is quickly becoming the best way to operate and manage a successful law firm.

Whether you are a brand new attorney starting your own law firm, or have been practicing law for some time now, there’s a good chance you’re already very familiar with the term, “all-in-one legal practice management software.”

And not only are you familiar with the term, but you’ve probably been told that – regardless of the size, age or type of law firm you operate – you have no choice but to implement an all-in-one practice management software legal system if you want that firm to be competitive and successful.

But guess what?

What you’ve been told is no longer true.

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All-in-one practice management legal software is no longer needed for a firm to move forward in today’s advanced technology era.

In fact, not only is it not needed, but it’s also probably not even the best choice for a modern law firm that wants to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.

But if a firm no longer needs an all-in-one practice management software system, then how will they make sure all workflow is done, that accuracy is maintained and that their staff members have the needed resources and tools to stay as sane and productive as possible?

The answer is simple.

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Introducing a Novel Concept to Law Firm Practice Management: Best of Breed

The term “best of breed” is not a new one…but for many legal professionals it often is.

“Best of breed technology” refers to the leading applications, systems, or software in a niche or category. 

When organizations take a best of breed (or “best-in-breed technology”) approach to building their technology stack, it involves selecting various apps and/or software platforms that are going to serve specific purposes.

Another way of looking at this is to say that instead of purchasing an all-in-one product suite from one single vendor that is going to try and cover multiple bases, it’s going to mean instead that an organization will look to adopt specialized software systems from a variety of different platforms and use all of them collectively to complete the necessary tasks at their business or organization.

Now this concept is beginning to filter its way into law offices as well.

After being told for years that they really had only one choice when it came to legal practice management software systems, lawyers are now being re-educated on this idea and the results are amazing!

By being able to pick and choose what types of software systems are going to work (or are already working!) for their firm, a legal practice can now take full control of their “tech stack” and custom design it to work best for their clients, their staff and their particular business model.

Let’s look more closely at what a typical all-in-one legal practice management system consists of and see how a customized tech stack may be a better fit for your firm.

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What Does a Typical All-in-One Legal Practice Management System Offer?

When most lawyers think of the typical all-in-one legal practice management software system, they probably think of names like Clio, PracticePanther and Rocket Matter.

These legal practice management software companies have legal practice management systems that are often just as obscure as their names.

Though they may claim to be able to work in every area of your firm – from document management, case management, contact management and even in time and expense tracking management – what they fail to tell you is this….

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Many law firms don’t need a practice management system to complete all those management tasks for them!

In fact, many law firms are already completing many of those management tasks just fine.

For example, if your firm uses Microsoft 365, you are already well on your way to having your contact management and client communication taken care of through your Gmail account.

You may also not need a legal practice management software company telling you how to manage your document storage because you are using the document management system that Microsoft 365 provides.

And finally, for all of us Microsoft 365 users, many administrative tasks that an all-in-one practice management company tries to tell us they can take care of are already being dealt with just fine, thanks to the calendar platform Microsoft provides us.

As you can quickly start to see, an all-in-one legal practice management system like Clio, PracticePanther or Rocket Matter isn’t going to serve you well if you already have a number of task management systems in place.

And not only will they not serve you well, they could actually be a hindrance to your future operations.

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From forcing your firm to spend money on something you don’t need to forcing your staff to have to relearn something they already know, an all-in-one legal practice management software for large law firms or for small is going to end up costing you more in hard-earned income and manpower than is necessary.

The Alternative to the All-In-One Practice Management Model…The LeanLaw Custom Tech Stack

As law firms become more savvy about their software systems, they are beginning to embrace a new way of managing all their workflow tasks as an alternative to the all-in-one practice management model that has been forced on firms for years.

Instead they are turning to LeanLaw, an innovative new approach to legal practice management.

With LeanLaw, a firm’s software needs will be carefully studied and analyzed.

Then, together with one of LeanLaw’s skilled technical experts, you will be able to make some decisions around what sorts of software implementations can be added to your practice, creating a customized tech stack that works best for your business operations.

Here is an example of a common starter tech stack that many LeanLaw legal practices have chosen to implement once they realized what this type of best of breed software can do for them.

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What is a Good Common Tech Stack for a Law Firm?

For many small to mid-sized law firms, creating a tech stack that implements the following tasks is going to be a great starting point:

Legal Document Management: Up to about a decade ago, applications like Google and Microsoft 365 weren’t really equipped to provide legal document management.

Today they are, with real-time editing and document versioning. If you are already using these types of software apps for your document storage, why switch?

Google and Microsoft can be the foundation for your law firm’s document assembly and ongoing document storage.

Contact Management and Client Communication: Staying in constant communication with clients (as well as prospective clients) is a huge part of any reputable law firm’s success story and there is a very good chance you’ve already mastered how to do this.

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Most firms that are small to mid-sized are most likely already using Outlook for all their email correspondence and contact management and there’s absolutely no reason to have to change that if it’s already working for you, your staff and your clients.

Legal Calendaring: Good law firms are all about hiring good people and keeping good calendars.

Since a lawyer’s main job centers around case management and client management, a law firm’s calendar is going to be the bedrock on which and from where all work begins.

Again, though, if you are happy with your current calendar application, there is going to be no need to switch it up or migrate what you have into a new system. With a custom tech stack, your current legal calendaring methods should work just fine.

Matter Management: Matter management is best defined as the activities relating to the management of all of a firm’s legal work.

Matter management can have many subsets within it, depending on the type of law your firm is practicing and the overall size of the firm as well. Matter management is the process by which a legal firm gathers data, tracks expenses, hours and productivity and assigns workflow.

This is where introducing a platform like LeanLaw into your firm’s practice management tech stack is really going to make a difference. For any firm that is working with many different clients and on many different cases, your legal team will need excellent organizational tools, tons of accuracy and a system that is easy to understand and use.

LeanLaw’s matter management software solutions will let you access the information you need on any matter in your firm — and access it anywhere, and at anytime.

Billable Hours and Time Tracking: Whether a law firm likes it or not, tracking all the hours spent working on a case is an integral part of making sure a firm continues to be successful.

Many attorneys still struggle with capturing all their billable hours, but a software solution like LeanLaw will effortlessly add this feature to your firm’s tech stack.

Not only that, but once your firm onboards with LeanLaw, your attorneys will be able to record their billable hours from anywhere – be it their car, their home or their vacation spot – and the client’s invoice will automatically reflect those hours, thanks to the innovative partnership between LeanLaw and QuickBooks Online.

Invoicing and Accounts Receivable: Remember that invoice mentioned earlier? When your firm includes LeanLaw in its tech stack, you won’t believe how much easier and effortless invoicing your clients is going to become.

Thanks again to the automatic synching collaboration between LeanLaw and QuickBooks Online, your client invoices will be automatically updated when an attorney or support staff member records hours billed or services rendered.

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LeanLaw will take all of the guesswork out of wondering if an invoice is prepared with the accurate timekeeping and hours, since there is no room for human error in the process.

Bank Reconciliation: Though there are going to be a number of systems that you already have in place to handle many of your daily tasks and workflow needs, one area that LeanLaw can really add to your tech stack is in the area of bank reconciliations.

Anyone who works in the accounting department of a law firm knows the importance of a monthly bank reconciliation and they also know how frustrating it can be when bank and ledger balances don’t match.

But with LeanLaw’s unique accounting software, this is never going to be a problem. Because LeanLaw is always in automatic sync with QuickBooks Online and your firm’s various bank accounts, a three-way reconciliation will always be happening and will be easy to finalize at the end of every month.

IOLTA Accounts and Trust Accounting: Similar to bank reconciliation needs, a law firm will need to make sure that their tech stack has the software that will be responsible to ensure that all IOLTA accounts are reconciled properly and that any and that the law firm is in compliance with any and all trust accounting regulations set forth by their state bar association.

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IOLTA accounts (an acronym for Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) are highly regulated funds that must meet very specific guidelines, or an attorney or their law firm can find themselves facing penalties, fines or even potential disbarment if IOLTA funds are not handled properly.

LeanLaw legal accounting software is specifically designed to navigate the rules and regulations of IOLTA accounts and make sure that your firm is always in compliance with what is expected.

These are just a few examples of some of the most common tech stack pieces that most firms will need in order for their practice to work well. As you can see, many of the pieces you may already have in place. Others could easily be incorporated when you decide to work with a software system like LeanLaw.

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Are You Interested in Customizing Your Tech Stack?

For legal firms that are just starting out, or for ones that have been around for years, creating your own customized tech stack won’t be difficult.

To start, click here to watch the free demo that will help you dive deeper into some of the ways in which LeanLaw can bring together many of your current (and favorite!) firm operations with our legal accounting software system to give your practice a management system like you’ve never seen before.

Still feeling skeptical? Reach out to us today.

Our skilled professionals are also legal professionals. They know the frustration that working with certain law practice management software can create for law firms, no matter how skilled their team actually is, and no matter how simple or complex the tasks may be.

And they also know how law firms have been told for years that there is no other option.

But options there is!

Let LeanLaw show you the way.

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