If you were too busy reading about the new iPhones announced yesterday, you may have missed two major updates in the world of online practice management software. MyCase announced Quickbooks integration and Rocket Matter announced a new client portal, as well as some other smaller updates. We’ve had a chance to get our hands on the Quickbooks integration and the client portal, so let’s take a look.
MyCase’s Quickbooks Integration
When speaking to Matt Spiegel, co-founder of MyCase, about the Quickbooks integration, he likes to brag. “We’re doing this differently than anyone else out there,” Spiegel claims. And he seems to be right. The Quickbooks integration does not require you to pay Intuit any more money, but MyCase asks for a $99 setup fee. They are currently running a promotion where the setup fee is only $49 dollars. Comparatively, Rocket Matter charges no setup fee, but adds a $14.99 fee per month, which can be reduced if you buy an annual subscription to the service.
But how does it work? My partner, Erick, is in charge of all of our money, so this is completely his department. But he did the setup yesterday with no issues. The whole thing took under an hour. Someone from MyCase was on the phone with him to help him set up all of the accounts. This means when we create an invoice in MyCase, it goes into accounts receivable in Quickbooks. When we accept a payment on an invoice, it’s marked as paid.
After running a few tests, Erick says it works pretty smoothly. But your milegage will definitely vary depending on how you have your Quickbooks set up. For example, the sync protocol will try to match customer names to billing contacts in MyCase. That’s pretty cool. But we have our books set up a bit differently. In Quickbooks we list the client as the billing contact even if someone else is making the payments. In criminal defense we can get payments from spouses, kids, family members, and friends on a regular basis for the same case. So it’s easier to keep track of things by the client name. But in MyCase we try to note who is actually paying the bills on a regular basis. As a result, MyCase would create a new customer for Sally Jones’ cousin, and won’t see that the payment should actually be applied to Sally Jones. According to Erick, this isn’t as annoying as it sounded to me when he first explained it.
We also get more specific with our itemization than the sync software allows. For example, instead of one flat fee category, we have fees for representation at a preliminary hearing, a trial, a probation violation hearing, etc. Those don’t play nicely. But, again, a minor issue.
It looks like overall this will definitely cut down on the time spent managing the books. And, more importantly, will make sure there are no issues with typos or human error when transferring data manually from MyCase to Quickbooks, like we were doing before.
The main difference between Rocket Matter and MyCase on this issue is how the accounts are synchronized. Rocket Matter will sync to whichever accounts you tell it. Meaning it can integrate with accounts receivable, accounts payable, income, etc. But it does not appear to work on a granular level with customer synchronization. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to look at video and screenshots of Rocket Matter, so I cannot verify this one hundred percent. But Robert Ambrogi agrees that the MyCase synchronization is more capable than its competitors:
Based on a demonstration I saw last week, this appears to be a more robust and seamless QuickBooks integration than other practice-management platforms offer. Others integrate only with the desktop version of QuickBooks or require a multi-step process of exporting data from one platform and then importing to the other.
Rocket Matter’s Client Portal and Copy2Contact Integration
If a more robust client portal was the one thing keeping you with MyCase, feel free to start shopping around again. Rocket Matter’s new client portal works pretty much how you would expect. It gives clients a unique URL where they can view upcoming calendar events, shared documents, and shared invoices. The portal is branded with your law firm logo and looks pretty slick (for a client portal). It also integrates with LawPay so clients can make payments right on the site.
There was one small quirk I encountered when using the portal. For some reason, you can only invite contacts using a “work” email address. Meaning that if the client has e-mail addresses listed for “work” and “home” Rocket Matter will automatically send the invite to the work address. And if there is just a “home” address, it won’t send the invite at all. For most of my clients, this doesn’t matter one bit. We have one e-mail for them, if we have any. But I’m guessing someone that practices employment discrimination may not want to send this kind of thing to a work e-mail address.
Rocket Matter also announced integration with Copy2Contact. This is a feature that will allow you to scrape contact info from emails and import it right into a contact’s information.
Two Different Mentalities
Rocket Matter also announced the ability to invite anyone to a calendar event through Rocket Matter, even if they aren’t a client and don’t have access to the client portal. What this means is that you can now invite anyone with an e-mail address, and it will send them an .ICS file via e-mail. This feature is a great example of the different approaches Rocket Matter and MyCase seem to take with how practice management software should work within your practice.
MyCase allows/encourages clients to download the MyCase app, where they can log directly into the client portal. From there they can send their attorney a message. When an attorney gets or sends a message, she has to check it through MyCase. The only thing that comes through e-mail is a notification. Similarly, the only way to get an e-mail into the MyCase system from your inbox is to forward it. There is no baked in e-mail integration. Even the Outlook plugin simply offers a nicer way to forward these e-mails back to MyCase.
In contrast, the Rocket Matter portal offers no messaging feature. Presumably, this is because they assume all the messaging will just happen via e-mail. Similarly, you can import all of your e-mail via POP3 right into Rocket Matter and reply to it from within the website. But it still relies on the security that comes with general e-mail, which is to say very little.
It looks like MyCase wants everything to happen right on their site. Correspondence through their messaging service, documents uploaded directly to their server (as opposed to a Dropbox sync), and all of the invoicing happening right on the site. This option potentially offers a more secure environment, since everything happens on MyCase’s servers, instead of other third parties.
Meanwhile, Rocket Matter wants to integrate with the other platforms you’re already using in a symbiotic way. Send someone a calendar invite and they can add it right to their calendar through e-mail. Respond to an e-mail, but do it in Rocket Matter so the e-mail gets categorized, etc.
Each system has its advantages and flaws, and mostly comes down to personal preference and how you run your practice.