It is becoming increasingly difficult for practice management software to distinguish itself from the myriad other options out there.
At a minimum, practice management software should provide contact storage, matter tracking, time tracking, task lists, and calendaring. PracticePanther provides those features and adds document management, real-time syncing to Box.com, notification options, and for the real legal tech nerds out there, Zapier and API access (more on what that means below).
All modern practice management applications should also have a dashboard that gives you a snapshot of your finances, tasks, and upcoming appointments. PracticePanther’s dashboard highlights your financial bottom lines: how much money you have earned in the month, how much you have billed that is still unpaid, and how much you have yet to bill.
The dashboard also gives you a list of your upcoming tasks and your calendar for the week, month, or day—whichever you prefer. Finally, at the far bottom of the dashboard is a running list of all activities you recently performed within the program.
The program will track contacts, matters, tasks, invoices, and payments. You can set up client portals so your clients have access to information and invoicing all in one secure location. Secure portals are critical for communicating with clients. It avoids the security and organizational problems that arise from emailing documents and sensitive information.
PracticePanther prides itself on giving you ways to interact with your team. The program has a built-in chat program so you don’t need to hop over to Google Hangouts or Slack. You can also have PracticePanther notify you when certain client actions are taken, like when they open an invoice or make a payment.
PracticePanther has a very tight integration with Box so you can store your files in the cloud. If you drag and drop files from your computer into PracticePanther, they’ll get synced to your Box account without any further action from you.
For invoicing, PracticePanther gives you quite a few choices. You can integrate with LawPay, a law practice-specific credit card processor, or you can go with PayPal or Stripe, which are both widely used. It also integrates with Quickbooks Online to sync payments and invoices.
The remaining integrations are ones you’ve come to expect as standard: Gmail, Google calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Exchange, and Office 365.
For the truly tech-inclined lawyer, you can request access to PracticePanther’s Zapier beta. Zapier lets you link apps together and automate data transfers between those apps using APIs. An API—Application Performance Interface—tells apps how to talk to each other. This feature is useful if you have some mission critical apps that would benefit from a direct link to your practice management software.
PracticePanther will cost you $49/month per user if billed annually or $59/month per user if billed monthly. They promise zero setup costs, but that’s not entirely accurate if you need to import anything but your contacts, as migrating any other data will cost you $10/hour to have PracticePanther do it. There is also a free trial available. If you agree to watch a demo, you will get 50% off your first two months.
PracticePanther has the key features attorneys have come to demand from practice management software. It also targets the tech-savvy attorney who wants the opportunity to connect their practice management software to other productivity tools, but it is unclear how large a slice of the market that might be.
At root, PracticePanther feels a bit like an application that is still finding its way. The limited reports and oversimplified contact list may not be robust enough for attorneys managing a practice with a large amount of clients. However, the company is very responsive to feature requests and aggressive about updates.
Perhaps most troubling, you have to get past being somewhat hesitant to say you’re using software inexplicably named after a panther.
Originally published 2016-06-20. Updated with new pricing information 2017-01-04.