Technology changes rapidly, and the legal industry is known for not always keeping up with the latest and greatest innovations. Whether this is due to resisting change, or just plain laziness, delaying or failing to adopt new technologies can be problematic and inhibit the growth of your business. Adopting new technologies, and especially the right technologies, is a key part of success in the business world today. That’s why we put together this guide to help you pick and choose the best law firm technology currently on the market.
The Best Law Firm Technology Today
First of all, it’s important to know that we didn’t just blindly put together this list, and we were not paid to do so (although we are admittedly a little biased in choosing our own product, but who wouldn’t be).
We chose the best law firm technology based on several key attributes which, in our opinion, are the most important things to look for when choosing technology to run a law practice. You are encouraged to choose your own technology based on whatever criteria is important to you, but here are some of the factors we prioritized:
- Cloud based
- Well designed
- Widely adopted
- Legal industry specific
- Integrated with other solutions
Without further ado, here is our recommended list of the best law firm technology today, organized by category:
Website & Blog
Our top recommendation for a law firm blog and website is WordPress. It is not the easiest of any platform to build upon, so it may require help from an outside web developer. But the pros outweigh the cons overall.
For one, WordPress software is free to install. You just have to pay for a domain and web hosting, which shouldn’t cost more than $5-10 a month.
The real power of WordPress is that it offers a whole lot of customization options, and powerful plugins to add features to your website with ease. For instance, the Lexicata plugin enables you to connect your website to our CRM to capture and track any incoming website leads automatically.
Furthermore, WordPress’ SEO-friendly page structure and easy-to-use publishing tools make it one of the best blogging platforms to use for your content marketing strategy.
There’s a good reason that an estimated 76 million websites are built on top of the WordPress framework, and that is why it’s our top recommendation for a law firm website and blog.
Honorable Mentions: Weebly, SquareSpace, LawLytics, Wix
While it may be a bit pricier than other offerings, and they don’t necessarily handle as many additional functions for you (e.g. managing your calendar), the actual answering service is second to none.
As we have written about before, providing exceptional customer service is one of the best ways to get ahead of your competition. Few firms have fully capitalized on this, but focusing on a top notch client experience is critical to your longterm success.
Not only will minimizing the number of calls that go to voicemail make a difference, but also, Ruby is an excellent partner when it comes to providing good customer service. Their receptionists are extremely friendly and will handle each and every call with care to maximize the chances of client retention and satisfaction.
To top it all off, Ruby now has started to integrate with other software on this list such as Lexicata and Clio, which is a huge plus because your calls can automatically be tracked in the other software programs you rely on to run your business, eliminating data entry.
Honorable Mentions: Alert Communications, Gabbyille
Email & Calendar
If you’re like most attorneys, your email and calendar pretty much make up the foundation of your daily work routine. It’s important to choose the right provider, and for us this one is easy (no, it’s not Outlook, even though Outlook has been the de facto email client for lawyers forever).
Google Apps for work is hands down our top option for email and calendar today. It’s extremely affordable at $5/user per month. It’s reliable and easy-to-use, and it’s completely cloud based, meaning your email is accessible from anywhere, on any computer or smartphone (plus you can set it up yourself without the help of an expensive IT company).
The best part about Google Apps is that it includes a lot of additional web apps to help you run your business, on top of just your email and calendar. This includes Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, Google Forms, Google Analytics, a YouTube account, and a Google My Business page (which is very important for SEO), plus more.
Google Apps is also integrated with a lot of other popular software programs, and there are many useful plugins to add extra functionality to your email inbox (e.g. RightInbox which automatically reminds you if an email hasn’t been replied to in a certain amount of days).
It’s time for lawyers to move away from their beloved Outlook, and we highly recommend giving Google Apps a try.
Honorable Mentions: Office 365
CRM & Client Intake
The CRM category is a newer concept for the legal industry, which traditionally has not been about “sales.” But today, the competition is getting fierce, and adopting a CRM is important to create a smooth, structured, and seamless client intake process that will increase your sales and maximize your conversion rate.
Naturally, we recommend our own product Lexicata as the top choice, because it is one of the only CRMs designed exclusively to meet a law firm’s needs.
The law firm sales process is not about repeatedly emailing and calling people to convince them to buy something. It’s more about forming a relationship with them, and getting them to sign a retainer and submit their sensitive information to you.
Lexicata provides all the tools you need to manage the legal sales process, from lead tracking, to online intake forms, to email templates and automated follow ups, to document templates with e-signatures, and more.
It’s a single, integrated solution to manage your entire intake process from start to finish, and it integrates with many other solutions on this list including Ruby Receptionist, Google Apps, and Clio.
Honorable Mentions: Insightly, Nimble, Salesforce
Other than email and calendar, case management software is probably the piece of technology you will rely on most for running your practice, and it’s something you’ll use almost every day.
Case management software is your primary database of client information. It includes matter and contact information, documents and files, bills and invoices, calendars and appointments, and more. It’s important to choose a good product to build your practice around, and our top recommendation is Clio.
Clio is modern and well designed (unlike a lot of other players in the space), which makes it relatively easy to learn and use. But it’s also powerful and comes with a lot of features.
The main reason we chose Clio above the sea of similar competitors is due to its focus on integrations with other systems. Clio not only built its own integrations with Google Apps, Office 365, LawPay, Dropbox, and many other popular software programs, but more importantly, it has an open API which enables 3rd parties to build integrations into Clio (such as Lexicata, for example).
This means Clio is not just an enclosed system that runs in isolation, but a platform upon which a complete, interconnected law firm technology stack can be built.
Honorable Mentions: MyCase, RocketMatter, Practice Panther
Storing all your files locally on a server (or worse, in a filing cabinet) presents a number of problems. First and foremost, those files are only accessible in the office. If you need to look something up while in court or from home, you won’t be able to.
Storing your files in the Cloud is pretty much a necessity nowadays, and our recommended solution for this is Dropbox.
Dropbox is the most widely adopted cloud file storage solution, serving millions of consumers and businesses. It is an extremely easy-to-use product that syncs files from your local computer to the cloud seamlessly. Anyone from the firm can access the files both locally and from the web browser, and it also has permission controls to provide limited access for specific users.
Clio also has a Dropbox integration which can sync all the files uploaded to your matters and automatically create a folder to store them and keep them organized. Best of all, Dropbox is extremely affordable (free to start for consumers and less than $10/month for businesses).
Honorable Mentions: Box, Google Drive
Billing & Payment Processing
The final (and probably most important) piece of the puzzle is actually getting paid for your work. And if you are still asking every client for a check, you are just hurting your own chances of getting paid in-full and on-time.
People expect just about everything to be easily accessible online these days, so offering an easy way for them to pay their bill online is a no-brainer for a law firm. And when it comes to online credit card processing, LawPay is by far the number one option.
If you couldn’t tell by the name, “LawPay” is payment processing designed specifically for attorneys. This means it has the capability to handle trust accounting without any complicated setup. As you can imagine, trust accounting mistakes are a common source of headaches and malpractice violations, so LawPay is a great way to go.
It’s the most widely adopted credit card processing solution in the legal industry, and they work with the ABA as well as local Bar Associations to ensure compliance with the latest regulations. Plus, it integrates with Clio’s invoicing and time tracking features, so LawPay is pretty much the only way to go if you are looking for online payments for your law practice.
Honorable Mentions: Harvest
If you didn’t already notice, this list of the best law firm technology was not exactly just a bunch of individual products that we like. It’s actually a cohesive unit – in software development, that’s known as a “stack” – which can integrate seamlessly and function in harmony together.
The entire lifecycle of a client can be managed using this tech stack, with Clio functioning as the foundation.
- The initial contact may occur from your WordPress website or a call handled by Ruby Receptionist;
- either way, the new potential client is submitted into Lexicata automatically for lead tracking, follow up, and intake;
- emails and appointments can be sent out/scheduled using Lexicata or Clio, and synced to Google Apps automatically;
- once the matter is retained, the data can be exported from Lexicata into Clio instantaneously where the casework and billing is handled;
- any relevant files can be stored in Dropbox through Clio’s integration;
- finally, the bill is generated from Clio and the invoice can be paid online via LawPay.
As you can see, adopting the best law firm technology is not about finding one specific product, but finding a comprehensive technology stack of different products which excel at particular functions, and integrate with one another. We feel very confident that the products on this list make up the best tech stack available on the market today.