Round-Up of Practice Management News from LTNY

I wrote yesterday about the price increase announced by the cloud-based practice management platform Clio, but there was lots of other practice-management news coming out of LegalTech New York last week. Most notably, both Clio and LexisNexis Firm Manager unveiled major overhauls of their platforms. There was also news from Thomson Reuters Firm Central and Rocket Matter.

Honors for the most significant overhaul go to Firm Manager. LexisNexis first released Firm Manager three years ago in a public beta. While it had many good features, it could often be frustratingly slow. To its credit, Lexis essentially tossed the old Firm Manager and went back to the drawing board, rebuilding it from the bottom up and the inside out.

The improvement is dramatic. According to LexisNexis, an independent benchmarking firm concluded it is 80 percent faster than the original Firm Manager and also faster than its top competitors. This time around, LexisNexis tested the platform with lawyers and law firms for more than a year before last week’s official release.

On top of the speed improvements and a cleaner interface, the new Firm Manager includes these features:

  • Time tracking and billing, including fixed-fee billing and trust accounting.
  • Drag and drop document upload, making it easy to add documents to Firm Manager for storage or for matter management. Uploaded documents are fully searchable.
  • Secure file sharing, powered by WatchDox, enabling users to share files or entire folders with a client, while maintaining administrative control over who can open, view, edit, copy share or forward the document.
  • Mobility across devices. Firm Manager is accessible from any device.

Slated for later this quarter is a feature that will capture unbilled time. The feature will automatically searche tasks, meetings and documents in Firm Manager and flag those that have not been associated with a billing slip for review.

Firm Manager costs $44.99 per month for the first user and $29.99 for every additional user. A 30-day free trial is available.

Clio

Clio also announced a top-to-bottom redesign of its interface last week — its first since its inception five years ago — as well as the introduction of several new features. The new, responsive design is intended not only to modernize Clio’s look and branding, but also to ensure that users have the same experience and functionality across all their devices.

The update also includes a major enhancement of data tables within Clio, providing better data organization, allowing for bulk actions and improved workflow, and laying the groundwork for a number of future improvements slated to be released throughout 2014.

Included among the changes are:

  • A cleaner overall design, including a cleaner header area for easier navigation and less clutter throughout the pages.
  • Personalized pages, with your name always prominently displayed in the header.
  • A new multi-select feature that lets users open or close multiple matters or complete multiple tasks.
  • A new “quick actions” drawer for common tasks that disappears from view when not needed. 

Thomson Reuters Firm Central

Thomson Reuters announced four notable enhancements to its practice management platform Firm Central, all aimed at enhancing efficiency and productivity. They are: 

  • Practical Law. It was big news last year when Thomson Reuters acquired UK-based Practical Law Company, a provider of legal “know-how.” Now, Firm Central users will be able to access Practical Law resources from directly within the application, tapping into practice notes, checklists, templates and more.
  • Client portal. The new client portal allows users to securely share documents and communicate with clients from within directly within Firm Central. Communications are organized by matter and all communications are secure and encrypted.
  • Integrated time and billing with QuickBooks, to synchronize law firm accounting data, track and process time and expense data, and simplify the overall billing process.
  • Custom forms. Users can now upload and save their own forms and automatically create standard documents. 

Rocket Matter

Rocket Matter announced last week that it is now integrated with the Box file-sharing and document-storage platform.

The integration means that users will be able to take advantage of Box’s capabilities for secure file sharing and collaboration, content management and mobile access, while also tracking all of their time for work done in Box, so that no billable time is lost. 

Rocket Matter said that its Box integration follows the same interaction as its other document integrations, meaning that users can navigate to their Box folders and documents from within each matter inside Rocket Matter. Billable time can be associated with each item in a Box folder.

Rocket Matter also announced that it has improved its native Android and iPhone apps. Users will see a new and improved home screen icon and have the ability to edit contacts and calendar events.  In addition, the iPhone app is now compatible with iOS 7.