Rocket Matter is a fairly new online practice management solution. From the demo, it looks very smooth. If you are in the market for an alternative to the bloated, crashy practice management software offerings out there, Rocket Matter might be a good option.

A couple of caveats.

First, even at the “special introductory rate” of $50 per month per attorney, Rocket Matter will quickly become more expensive than the competition. That is $600 per year per attorney! Time Matters 9.0 is only $350, plus $200 for each additional license, and, of course, you do not have to buy the upgrades if you don’t want to. If you want to keep using Rocket Matter, you have to keep paying. And it does not seem to offer the ability to download your information in an open format to use in any other application, so once you start using Rocket Matter, you will be stuck.

Plus, what will it cost when the introductory rate expires?

Second, Rocket Matter does not (yet) offer any synchronization options. For me, a calendar, task list, and contacts database I cannot use from my phone are useless. Rocket Matter could solve some of these problems easily by syncing with a service like Plaxo that does offer syncing to mobile devices, but for the price, I would expect more. A lot more.

In the end, I am very curious, but I do not see much benefit, and the cost of using Rocket Matter is way too high, with the potential to become trapped using it forever, whether it improves or not.

Edit: Just spotted a post by Larry Port from Rocket Matter on the HomeOfficeEnvy blog. Apparently Rocket Matter has some features they don’t talk about on their site (why in the world not?), but they don’t resonate for me.

Larry tries to justify the cost by saying Rocket Matter will help you bill more. Billing more is not a function of software, it is a function of how a person bills. I have seen this again and again. No software will make an attorney track time better. It just doesn’t work that way. Plus, due to internet lag time, I think Rocket Matter would probably make me bill less, since I am very efficient right now.

He also says there is no need for syncing, since users can access Rocket Matter over the internet from any web-capable device. That is a cop out. Even assuming that I did have phone service in the courthouse (rare), I don’t want to wait for my calendar to load while I am standing in front of the bench, trying to set a hearing date with the clerk, while opposing counsel whips out his paper planner.

Being able to download my information and move on is also a major concern. A lot of people are trapped in their current software. I don’t want to be trapped; I want to be able to try something better when something better comes along. Or leave entirely. If I were to quit my solo law practice, for example, I would probably have to continue paying for Rocket Matter for seven years or so in order to preserve my professional obligations to my former clients. No thanks.

None of this is to say that I think Rocket Matter is a bad product. On the contrary, I think it is awesome. It just is not worth the cost, and it is missing some crucial features. But it is also still in beta. Hopefully the price is also in beta, and the folks at Rocket Matter will reconsider.

Edit 2: Larry says users can get their data from Rocket Matters. That is a step in the right direction, but I hope they will offer easier export in the future.