At ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago this week, Orion Law Management Systems is officially launching the latest version of its Orion financial and practice management software, a ground-up rebuild that retains much of the product’s look and feel but that introduces hundreds of new features and improvements to both the Orion desktop and iOrion mobile platforms.

The Atlanta, Ga., company says its Orion 5 is a significant leap forward for its technology, including major enhancements for prebilling, conflict avoidance, and tracking and reporting, as well as iOrion integrations with major map and rideshare applications. The updates are free to all Orion maintenance customers, who will be able to request the upgrade starting March 4.

In business since 1985, Orion is a full-featured financial management, firm management and practice management system designed for mid-sized law firms. Whereas many practice management systems for smaller firms operate via the cloud, Orion is a locally installed system that is able to integrate with a firm’s back-office infrastructure and front-office tools. Its last major revision, version 4, was released in 2005, although it has been continuously updated over the years.

The company’s iOrion product, introduced in 2013, is a mobile application for iOS and Android devices that provides on-the-go integration with Orion’s desktop application and access to many of Orion’s features, including timekeeping, expense tracking, contacts, matters, appointments, tasks and more. (See my previous posts about iOrion here and here.)

ePreBill Manager on the desktop, showing the summary tab view.

A major feature of Orion 5 is the new Orion ePrebill Manager, which was officially launched at Legaltech New York a month ago. ePrebill Manager provides a complete electronic workflow system for managing the prebilling process. The purpose is to allow firms to eliminate paper from their prebill process by providing tools to digitally route, review, edit, markup, accept and finalize invoices, as well as to track write-downs and realization figures. The system provides a full audit trail showing who made what changes, when and why.

The system shows edits from all participants. Attorneys can view annotations by individual, then filter what is displayed to only include prebills that were edited. Because all edits are tracked as annotations, the original information is maintained so any change can be rolled-back or applied by the billing administrator with a single click.

A list of unreviewed bills in iOrion on an iPad.

ePrebill Manager is also available in iOrion 5, so attorneys can review prebills while away from their desks.

Other major features and enhancements in Orion 5 include:

Conflicts search results in a matter intake.

Conflict avoidance and client/matter intake enhancements. Because conflicts checking can be a tedious and high-risk process, Orion has added new functionality to its intake and conflict avoidance system to make the process more efficient. Users can now easily copy and paste names, aliases and relationships directly into the matter intake form or import them from an external text file.

Orion’s conflicts search scope has been expanded to include prospective clients and related parties. Once the names have been added, a conflicts search can be conducted directly from within the matter intake window. Formal searches conducted during a lateral hire are also incorporated.

Setting up attorney assignments for a matter.

Attorney assignment history tracking and reporting. In order to give law firms greater specifics in revenue-related record-keeping for attorney assignments. Orion 5 now lets users assign an effective date for the persons on a matter designated as originating attorney, managing attorney, project manager and responsible attorney.

Originating and project manager field assignments can be split and their evolving roles can be tracked over time. Revenue-related reports now allow you to view the histories of assignments and effective dates for greater transparency and more accurate chronologies of events.

Setting up reserved words.

Reserved word enforcement for e-billing. Orion integrates with many e-billing tools and has now made these integrations stronger by expanding its billing guidelines management with Reserved Words Enforcement. Users assign a reserved word set to a particular matter and, as a fee description is entered, the entry is scanned for words, phrases and punctuation that have been red-flagged by the e-billing software. Disallowed language can then be automatically replaced or manually corrected.

Users can create a single set of reserved words or different sets for different clients. This tool can also be used in the Prebill Manager to review all prebills or in the Bill Preparation stage, and can be applied globally or only against a specific client.

Adding work location to a fee entry.

Work location tracking and reporting. Orion 5 allows users with multiple offices and work locations to track the location in which a service was rendered as part of each fee or time entry. This can be useful for firms that need to withhold income tax for employees that work for periods of time in a state other than where they reside.

iOrion now allows users to request rideshares and get map directions.

iOrion 5 integration with maps and rideshare apps. iOrion is a complete financial management mobile app allowing legal professionals to access data from Orion using any recent-model Apple iOS or Google Android device. iOrion 5 adds the ability for users to request a rideshare using Uber or Lyft as well as get directions using Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze.