Choosing Practice Management Software (Part 1 of 2)
Practice management software isn’t something we intended to invest in this early. But now that we have several clients at the same time, we decided it was time to switch from our Excel sheet to something a little more robust. I don’t trust my memory, so I want something that can remind me about things. So, although practice management software isn’t for everyone, it’s for us. We signed up for MyCase, Rocket Matter, and Clio. It’s time to pit them against each other and see which one we like best.
MyCase is one of the newer entries in the ever growing field of cloud based practice management software. Getting set up with MyCase is extremely easy. You only need to type in your firm name and set up a username and password. Then you’re up and running.
MyCase is the most intuitive of the three options. There are two different places where users can easily add a new case, new contact, etc. There is a prominent timer at the bottom right that you can start at any time. When you stop the timer it prompts you for a matter to assign it to, and then a description. This time then funnels, as it should, into the billing section.
My initial thoughts of MyCase are very favorable. It’s the least expensive option at $39 per user per month. But it also has the fewest features. For example, you can only import cases/matters and contacts. This means if you have outstanding bills in Clio or Rocket Matter you won’t be able to bring them over. I e-mailed their support team about the issue and got an e-mail back within two hours stating:
We recommend entering a “balance forward” entry into MyCase for each case and then start fresh from there. I realize that this is not the most ideal situation, but time and billing gets quite complicated to import from other solutions.
I was pleasantly surprised with their prompt response, although somewhat disappointed by the content. The other two missing features in MyCase are Dropbox synchronization and full Google Calendar integration. I’m not sure the Dropbox synchronization is something we really need. We’ve only been using the software for a week, so I’m not entirely convinced there is an advantage to syncing the files with the software when they are already backed up to Dropbox and synchronized to each of our computers. MyCase allows you to synchronize with Google Calendar, but only with a new calendar. To see events you already have in your calendar you would have to import them to the MyCase calendar that the software creates in Google.
Rocket Matter is the only provider that we are trying which requires a credit card up front. They offer a full money back guarantee within thirty days, but I was still put off at being billed up front. I tried contacting their sales team three times in one afternoon, but each time I hit the extension to their sales team, the call cut off. So I sent them a tweet on Friday and someone immediately e-mailed me.
After a bit of phone tag yesterday, I was finally able to get on the phone with someone today. I explained my reluctance to pay up front, and they were very willing to do a 30 day trial. At first I had written them off, but Kim, the woman I spoke to, was so friendly and helpful on the phone that I can’t resist trying Rocket Matter. I was really wowed by the customer service. It reminded me of Sam’s fawning over Ruby. While I was on the phone with Kim, another customer support agent called on call waiting. Apparently they call every new client and talk with them to see if there are any questions.
Rocket Matter seems like a strong front runner for now. It has an intuitive layout similar to MyCase, and a more robust feature set like Clio. There is an easy to use timer that you can start at any time, and link to a case when you stop. According to Kim, their emphasis is on visibility. The more often you see something, the more likely you will be to remember it. As an example, in the top right corner of the Rocket Matter dashboard it tells you how much time you’ve billed so far in a day. If you are a servant to the almighty billable hour, you will either love or hate the feature.
Clio is the first platform we signed up for, and it was a completely painless experience. Like MyCase all you need is a name, e-mail address, and law firm name. But that is where the similarities end. Clio has a much more clunky feel to it. At first glance, it is also the only one that doesn’t have a prominent, easy to use timer that you can switch on and off for quick access billing.
But like Rocket Matter, the software is extremely robust. Dropbox and Google synchronization are easy to set up and they are flawless. My biggest gripe with Clio is its strict organization. It’s very easy to get lost, forget to fill in a field, etc. For example, the first two tasks I created and billed did not get linked to a matter. Apparently I forgot to fill in that box. But instead of alerting me that the time was unbillable, the hours just floated in the ether.
When I logged in later in the day and couldn’t find the billables I immediately called Clio support. Now, this is where Clio shines. I was on the phone with someone in less than thirty seconds, and they showed me how to fix the issue. They also agreed it should have told me the time wasn’t being billed to a client, and assured me the issue would be passed on to the developers.
Right now Rocket Matter appears to be a strong middle of the road candidate, with some of the best aspects of MyCase and Clio. But we are going to put all three sites through the ringer over the next few weeks. Check back to see how they compare with each other after a few weeks of testing. To see what others have said about the various platforms, check out Herbert Wilson’s ongoing discussion in the LAB.