Are you looking for all-in-one practice management (PM) software for your law firm? Consider rethinking that idea for three big reasons. First, while PM software offers many features, they are usually mediocre. Legal PM companies simply lack the market girth to fund great features across the board. Second, your firm is unlikely to use most of the features, so you wind up paying for software you don’t use. Third, by trying to be all-in-one, PM software fails to take full advantage of the true platforms all law firms rely on, with Microsoft and QuickBooks being the primary examples.
What is the alternative? We call it “best of breed.” It begins by recognizing that Microsoft 365 (for productivity) and QuickBooks Online (for finance) are the core platforms on which most small to mid-size law firms will build their legal technology stacks. Armies of engineers have built these platforms and their robust feature sets. They have millions of users and hundreds of app integrations. QuickBooks Online has over 20,000 bank connections to automate reconciling your books and built-in payroll. You are just not going to get these kinds of features in a law-specific tool.
The problem, of course, is that MS 365 and QuickBooks Online are generic tools that are not customized for law firms. How do you integrate the best tools into the core platforms? We suggest starting by choosing a legal specific app to integrate your law firm financial workflows, i.e. timekeeping, professional invoicing and reporting. LeanLaw is designed to provide exactly that customization of QuickBooks Online for law firms. Check out our reviews, we think we’re pretty good at it. You may also want to add other apps to enhance your financial workflows, here are some suggestions.
Now that your financial workflows are set, it’s time to build a best of breed legal productivity suite. MS 365 gives you a great start. We all know Microsoft for industry-standard email, contact management, word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. In recent years, it has also added Teams and Sharepoint (among other things) for video conferencing, collaboration and document and email management. If you are on an older version of MS Office, you need to understand what MS 365 can do, and plan to upgrade as part of your practice management plan. Some firms will find that QuickBooks Online (along with a legal specific billing tool like LeanLaw) plus MS 365, is all the practice management software you need.
If you find MS 365 by itself is not enough for your firm’s practice management needs, then you need a good answer to the question, “What practice management features do we need?” For many firms it will be document management. If so, consider Box.com or, if you need something more sophisticated, NetDocuments. Does your firm need court docketing? LawToolBox is a great choice. Does your firm have a significant marketing function or serve many small clients that require Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software? For mid-sized firms, Salesforce is a powerful platform to build on. If you have other needs, the Microsoft App Store likely has an answer.
Best of Breed
The reason we say “start with LeanLaw” is because this is how we built our company: with the idea that we would be excellent at what we do (timekeeping / invoicing / reporting) and hitch our wagon to the most robust accounting software, QuickBooks Online.
LeanLaw makes QuickBooks Online work for law firms by integrating our law specific features so deeply with QuickBooks that you don’t have to sync – because you are always in sync with QuickBooks as the source of truth. The accounting folks can work in QuickBooks and those folks (attorneys, support staff) who do not want to look at accounting software can work in LeanLaw – more user friendly software for people other than accounting pros. And still, everyone is looking at the same data.
If this sounds complicated, it’s mainly because this is new to you. Contact LeanLaw. We’d be happy to show you how to put together your own custom law stack.