Law Practice Management: Box vs. NetDocuments

Choosing the right tools for your small law firm can be difficult if you’re not aware of the key differences between popular law practice management and software management tools.

When LeanLaw evaluates a law firm’s technology, it’s important to balance the needs of the attorney and the key features among software management and law practice management tools. Let’s take a look at Box.com vs. NetDocuments – part of an alternative to law practice management software. Jonathon Fishman, Founder and CEO LeanLaw’s Founder and CEO, Jonathon Fishman, was advising a client via email about whether to choose Box.com or NetDocuments for use in her law practice. Following is Jonathon’s advice: Here’s the bottom line. NetDocuments is more of a practice management tool and Box.com is a document storage tool. Here are the core differences from my perspective.
  • Cost: Box.com costs $100 per month for the three users vs. $200 for NetDocuments. (ND is $40 per user / per month with a five-user minimum.
    • NetDocuments also requires you to be on boarded with a NetDocuments channel partner. This is a 3rd party entity that is certified by NetDocuments to help your firm get integrated into using NetDocuments. The estimated cost is $1500 – $2500.
  • Security: Equal. Both have a culture of security although, I would put Box ahead in this category. Box aspires to be a public company. With this comes greater scrutiny. Also, they are a classic Silicon Valley company, which inherently allows them to recruit the best of the best. Lastly, the industry is indicating Box.com as a security leader. Specifically, the DOJ adopting Box.com as their cloud storage vendor. NetDocs isn’t a slouch, but I feel Box has more incentive and horsepower.
  • Workflow: Given that NetDocuments is more of a “practice management” tool, there are inherent benefits. The ND organizational scheme is “matter” centric and thus, feels logical in your workflows. The UX designers had one discipline in mind when they built the tool… law practice. Both products have steep integration into the Microsoft Office portfolio of tools but NetDocs will present a workflow where Box.com will offer more of a generic tool. Box forces the user to develop a data management scheme for their practice. While this puts a burden on the end user, it also can be liberating in not being forced to use so many steps to do basic functions. Box is developing tools that will help facilitate workflows, but it still will be the end users burden to stitch together their workflow.
  • Email: Box.com does not have an integrated functionality to automatically convert emails into a neutral format and add them to a matter. This again is the practice management functionality with which NetDocuments has the edge. That said, it isn’t that difficult to save an email as a PDF and then add that into a matter folder.
  • Mobile and Everywhere Access: Box leads here. The app is available on every device. Given how you work, the nimbleness of Box.com architecture will integrate well with your mobility.
  • Industry Integration: While I can’t classify NetDocuments as a closed environment, it isn’t entirely open. Box.com has an emerging marketplace of apps that extend its functionality into other workflows in your firm. It integrates with CRM tools and other practice management platforms such as Clio or Amicus Cloud. Newer software as a service companies such as Factbox, trial prep software, leverage documents stored in a Box.com environment allowing the attorney to add facts and notes without having the documents live on a local machine. This is only the beginning of the future of tech in law. Innovators leveraging industry leading tools such as Box to create new software around very specific tasks that lawyers perform. Moving forward, software developers like LeanLaw will be leveraging our tools into the Box environment. This just isn’t the case for NetDocuments.

Next Steps:

You should watch a demo of NetDocuments if you have not done so already. It is really sweet software. If the price isn’t a deal killer, it may make sense. We would need to look closely at how the application will behave when you’re on the go. That aspect concerns me a bit. Not a deal killer, but a consideration. In the end, the question comes down to: Do you want more of a practice management tool where you follow the workflow setup by the vendor or would you prefer a more mobile and flexible environment that you will shape into the workflows and storage repositories based on your practice?

All good things to consider for your law practice management needs! If you want this kind of thoughtful, curated-for-you advice, give us a call / email / IM at LeanLaw. Our mission is to help you have a lean practice: efficient and cost effective.

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Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney

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