The cloud is the future. We’ve all heard about it, but many in the legal community have not quite embraced the cloud or adopted it into their every day lives yet. So, we put together this overview of the best cloud software for lawyers in order to help you determine what technology you can incorporate into your practice to save time and money and make your life easier.
The Best Cloud Software for Lawyers
Below is our list of the best cloud software to help lawyers run their businesses. We’ve organized the list according to the features offered by each of the products. It starts with general practice management software at the top, which encompasses many of the more specific features listed below.
- Clio is probably the most well-known and widely used product in the cloud-based practice management category. It offers a whole suite of features, including managing contacts, tracking cases, managing tasks, keeping notes, collaborating with clients, calendaring, time keeping, billing, and more. It also has integrations with other software, such as QuickBooks for accounting, Dropbox for storing files, and PayPal for payments. It’s priced a bit higher than the others at $72/month per user, but you can get a slight discount by paying annually.
- MyCase is a bargain compared to Clio, at just $39/month per attorney, and $29 per staff member. It also has many of the same features, including managing tasks and to-do lists, communicating with clients, time tracking, document assembly, calendaring, billing, and payments. You can integrate it with QuickBooks to handle accounting. In addition to practice management, MyCase offers website development and upkeep for an additional fee of $1500 upfront and $50/month.
- RocketMatter offers roughly the same feature set as MyCase and Clio: contact management, note taking, document management, task tracking, time keeping, billing (including flexibility for contingency fees and other nontraditional methods), and it’s own trust accounting system. It also comes with integrations for Dropbox, Skype, and a few others, all for $65/month per user. You get discounts for committing long-term and paying quarterly, annually, or biannually.
Also see our case management software reviews for more information.
- Lexicata is the leading CRM for lawyers because it is designed specifically for managing the legal sales process. You can use our pipeline feature to manage all your current prospects, track lead sources and referrals, tag contacts and organize them into lists, and much more.
- Highrise is a simple CRM solution for small businesses. It’s useful to store all your current clients, but more importantly, it helps you track progress with client prospects and reminds you to follow up. Utilizing a CRM is a great way to help you close more leads and convert them to paying clients. It starts at $24/month for up to 6 users and 5,000 contacts.
- Google Contacts
- Google Contacts won’t necessarily solve your CRM needs, but it’s built right into your Gmail account and can be a very easy system for storing and managing all your contacts. Google Apps for Business costs just $5/month per user.
Marketing & Social Media
- Infusionsoft is one of the leading marketing automation solutions out there. It may even be too complex for the average small law firm, but it’s tremendously powerful if you know how to use it. You can use it as a CRM solution, as well as an automation tool for sending out email responders, newsletters, marketing messages, and more. And as we’ve said before, automation is key to efficiency and profitability. It starts at $199/month.
- Mailchimp is one of the best email marketing services, and best of all, it’s free to get started. It can help you build up an email list from your law firm blog and send out monthly or weekly email updates, using a simple, drag and drop email template creator.
- HootSuite is a great tool to manage all of your social media efforts, by integrating your Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, Google+ page, and more. You can send out updates your entire network from a single dashboard, and schedule posts in advance. You can also track inbound messages and send responses to your followers and potential clients. It’s a great way to save time doing social media, which can certainly be a pain, and there’s a free plan available.
- If HootSuite seems a little overwhelming, Buffer is the way to go. It’s dead simple to use, and you can send out updates across all your social media profiles at once. You can schedule things in advance, and they also have a cool plugin for Google Chrome that lets you easily add the content you’re currently viewing to your Buffer queue, so you can post it on social media later. The basic features are free, and it’s just $10/month for the upgraded plan that has more features.
File Storage & Sharing
- Dropbox is one of the leading cloud storage companies. It makes it extremely easy to upload, store, and share documents with your associates and clients. All your files are accessible from any device too if you install the Dropbox app. It’s free to start out and you get up to 2GB of data. After that, it’s just $9.99/month for up to 100GB. Or, if you need more admin controls to place more limitations on the accessibility of your files , you can use Dropbox for Business for $15/month per user.
- Box is the largest competitor for Dropbox, but they’ve been around quite a bit longer. The key difference is their initial focus was on enterprises and large companies, as opposed to Dropbox’s initial focus which was heavily on consumers. Now both competitors offer consumer and business offerings, with Box starting out free for 1 user and up to 10GB of storage.
- Google Drive
- Drive is another component of the Google Apps for Business suite, which runs $5/month per user. With Drive, you get more storage than you’ll probably ever need, but the interface is not quite as nice as the others. Drive can be a good complement to Box or Dropbox however, and may still be useful for storing files that you don’t need to share with clients.
Client Communication & Interaction
- Our product allows provides an end-to-end client intake solution. We offer an online intake form builder, document automation with e-signatures, one-click auto-reminders for appointments or unsigned documents, customizable email templates to streamline follow up, and much more. Plus it integrates with Clio, which is key for building an integrated technology stack.
- Clio Connect
- Built right into Clio, the Connect feature allows you to securely communicate with your clients, share documents, create tasks, and keep them updated with all the latest happenings in their case. There’s no additional charge on top of the base rate for Clio.
Time Tracking & Billing
- Harvest offers an easy-to-use, yet highly effective time tracking and billing solution for small businesses. You can track time, generate invoices, and collect payments through their suite of applications across web, desktop, and mobile devices. They have a very limited free plan, and then it starts at just $12/month.
- FreshBooks is an accounting service by nature, but they’ve also got a bunch of other useful features, including time keeping and invoicing. If you’d prefer to reduce the number of different cloud products you use, FreshBooks is a good alternative to Harvest. They have a free plan to start out, and then it goes up to $19.95/month.
- Xero is a popular cloud-based accounting software for lawyers, and many other small businesses (they boast over 300,000 customers). They offer invoicing, expense tracking, bank reconciliation, payroll services, bill pay, and much more. They also have integrations with over 300 third party applications. The starter plan is just $9/month, although it’s pretty limited. From there, it jumps up to $30/month for the standard plan.
- As highlighted above, FreshBooks is first and foremost a cloud-based accounting product. It’s also very popular with over 5 million users (many of which are probably using the free version). It can be a good alternative to Xero, and offers the added benefit of built-in time tracking for a reduced monthly rate of $19.95, and up to $39.95/month.
- Wave Accounting
- Wave is perhaps not as powerful as Xero or FreshBooks, but it does have one very appealing feature – it’s FREE! This makes it a good option if you’re just starting out and on a limited budget and it does come with a decent set of features – it syncs with your bank account(s) and allows you to track income and expenses, send out invoices, and even process payroll and accept credit card payments. It’s a good alternative for a solo or someone running a virtual law firm and looking to reduce overhead.
So there you have it: our list of the best cloud software for lawyers. If you’re looking for an all-in-one type solution, practice management software is probably a safe bet. But, if you’re just running a solo practice, or if practice management software is too complex for you, it makes sense to pick and choose from these other options and put together a combination that offers all the key features you need.
Above all, we think the cloud is the future in the business of law, and cloud software is going to change the way lawyers run their businesses. The earlier you start making the transition toward powering your law practice with technology, the better off you’ll be. You can stay ahead of the competition, reduce your overhead, streamline your practice, and grow your law firm by leveraging the power and efficiency of the cloud.
What did we miss? Any other great cloud-based software that you’ve used in your practice? Add it to the comments below and we will add it to our list!