Choosing Practice Management Software (Part 1.5 of 2)


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After doing an introductory post on Clio, RocketMatter, and MyCase as practice management software, I changed my mind and decided to review the Total Attorneys software as well. Originally I hadn’t intended to review Total Attorneys. In my last post, I explained “Honestly the dollar price point is what turned me off. It seems gimmicky to me.” But out of an abundance of caution to make sure we were making the most informed decision for the firm, I decided to try it out and see if it could compete with Clio, Rocket Matter, and MyCase.

You can discuss The Shingle Life in the comments, in the LAB, or on Twitter using the hashtag #shinglelife.


Total Attorneys’ mobile option is its strongest feature. Unlike the other contenders, Total Attorneys has a dedicated app for the iPad and iPhone. And the app is pretty cool. It’s much easier to navigate than a mobile site, and in the limited time I used it I didn’t have any big complaints. I did notice that the timer doesn’t seem to work in the background, but I think that is universal amongst non-Apple apps.

The other nice feature I found in Total Attorneys that the other providers don’t have is an automatic conflicts check. As soon as you create a matter, it will display a little warning sign for possible conflicts. When you click the warning it will show you where else that contact is involved which may create a conflict.

The rest of the site, unfortunately, was disappointing. From a big picture standpoint, the organization is similar to Clio. Like Clio, it has a very database-like feel, as opposed to Rocket Matter and MyCase’s smoother interface. But if you enjoy Clio’s layout and organization, then you will also like Total Attorneys’. Where the site really fell apart for me was the constraints that the software puts on how you want to organize your data.

At the moment we are doing a lot of contract work and appointment work. That means the people paying us are law firms and county governments. That’s who has to get the bill. But with Total Attorneys you can’t enter just a company for a contact. There has to be a first name and last name as well. As Herbert Wilson points out in the LAB, they’ve only recently let you enter contacts without an e-mail address, so it seems Total Attorneys is big on mandatory data.

Even when creating a matter there are mandatory fields. The one I found totally unnecessary was zip code. I can’t imagine why they would require the zip code of where the case is being handled. Also, as Herbert mentions, you can’t create a contact during matter creation. You have to create the contact first and then the matter. A small annoyance, but just another example of the software forcing you into a workflow you may not like.

Finally, there are no custom fields in the software. I like collecting certain data for cases, such as the court case number, and it just doesn’t work with Total Attorneys. This was also the only service I tried that doesn’t offer any kind of sync capabilities with Google Apps. Under the “apps” section of the site it says there is Google Apps synchronization, but when you click on it you find out it’s “coming soon.”

Price Point

I’m still hesitant about the one dollar a month price point. This seems like something too good to be true. Maybe I’m too suspicious, but I’m concerned that in six months they will turn around and change their pricing structure. It would make sense to offer some kind of bundled arrangement with their other services, almost like a cable company.


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  • Josh,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to check out our platform.

    I’m glad to have a chance to hear your concerns and suggestions on what we need to build to improve. Loosening the constraints on data is currently being worked on and being rolled out over the next few weeks: adding custom fields, supporting business account types, removing mandatory zip codes from matters, and creating a matter before you create a contact.

    Even though Total Attorneys has been in business for 10 years, we just released the new version of our platform in January. You will see lots of new additions and improvements roll out very quickly.

    I spend much of my time talking with our users and we are currently working through the many great improvements they have suggested. Many of them are the same improvements that you point out in your post.

    Please do not be suspicious of our price point. We have a different model and go-to-market strategy. Our business model does not require that we charge $50 per user per month. We believe that all attorneys and their clients should have access to fantastic tools whether the attorney services low-bono clients or charges several hundred dollars per hour. We make money when attorneys choose to add additional integrated services onto their platform through ‘Total Apps.’ For example, attorneys can add payment processing for $35 per month. When the app is activated, attorneys can set up one-time and recurring payment processing through e-checks or credit cards. They can also allow their clients to pay via their client portal. We have many attorneys that just pay $1 per month to use the software. But there are even more that have activated one of our apps.

    We take mobile very seriously and are glad you see the value in our app. We worked for several months building our native iPhone and iPad apps and really are proud of what we have accomplished with them. Attorneys all over the United States are using them everyday to manage their practice on the go. I’ve heard from some that they are using the iPad version more than the web browser.

    Once again, thank you for checking us out and please stay tuned!


  • A product we’ve been using for the past four years which you might want to take a look at is Actionstep ( While not specifically built for law firms it has all of the requisite elements that we needed in Practice Management software – it’s easily scalable, allows us to either buy pre-built off-the-shelf processes, document templates, etc or build our own. It includes payroll and accounting software as well as a direct marketing module if required. We’ve certainly got a lot of gains in productivity, particularly around automation of document production.

    I haven’t looked at the other products you’ve reviewed in this and your earlier post so it would be impossible for me to offer comparisons. But my sense is that ActionStep offers more functionality than a lot of products but requires an investment in the time needed to set it up properly to gain the best advantage.

    Having said that I know that there are a lot of users using only the bits they want to, in order to keep things simple. ActionStep are also very responsive to integrating with other service providers if those solutions are preferred by the client (eg. cloud-based accounting software).

  • Price-points are not what they seem. For many cloud-based practice management systems, there is a fixed fee that covers everything. This is true for RocketMatter, Clio, and Houdini ESQ. For AdvologixPM, there is a base fee that cover quite a lot of features, but there are add-on’s for a few extra dollars a month per user.

    In the case of TotalAttorneys, I don’t believe that Jim gave you the complete store. The $1 fee is just the beginning. Much as PayPal is “free” but charges you for the money that is transacted through their service, TotalAttorneys includes transaction fees. These include fees for referrals. There are transaction fees for payments received through Total Attorneys credit card payment services. At one time there were fees for document preparation fees for using their automated templates. There are fees for webservices. And even if TotalAttorney does not collect the ancillary fee for partner services, there is likely is some revenue sharing with that partner.

    Not that any of these fees are unreasonable; many of them are valuable services and cost effectively delivered. It’s just that you should inquire about all the ancillary fees and then decide whether the service as a whole is cost effective for your needs. Like TotalAttorneys my company sells a set of automated Probate Forms for “free”. Software, installation, and support are free. The catch, is you pay per open file. The more files you open, the more payments we receive. If you never use the sofware, it costs you nothing. If you use it alot, then you have gotten the business and the money from your clients, and our per file transaction fee is just a disbursement on the file.

    • I think we are talking about two different things. The $1 is allegedly not changing for the actual practice management software. All the other stuff just gets tied in because those are their paid services. They are totally optional.

  • What you are saying is that the $1 price is a “loss leader”, a promotional price designed to get customers into the store. There is no obligation to buy anything more than the $1 item, but while you are there, please look at our other wares. And, since we have your “credit card” it is real easy to upsell to new features.

    • That is definitely their plan.

    • Right. Like the Kindle, which Amazon sells at a loss in order to get its book delivery device into your hands and your credit card into its hands.