LexisNexis: We Broke It, You Buy It

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If you just bought Time Matters 10, are you bothered that LexisNexis just charged you hundreds of dollars for a “bug fix release”? You do not see Toyota charging car owners to fix their broken pedals, so why should you pay to fix LexisNexis’s broken product?

Good question.

No worries, from now on, LexisNexis will charge you a yearly fee to keep current with its software. Wait, worry. This Annual Maintenance Plan will probably cost you more than what you have, particularly if you do not always buy the most-recent version.

If I were going to be stuck paying a monthly or yearly fee for case management software, I would just switch to Rocket Matter, Clio, or LawRD. The software is better, and so is the customer service.

And at least with Rocket Matter, which just announced its Professional Services to assist with importing data from other case management software, the transition should be pretty easy.

Yearly Rant About Yearly Upgrades | Does It Compute? (Thanks, Thom!)

(photo: Nesster)

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  • Law Shucks

    Unfortunately, all you’re really saying is that Lexis Nexis is now doing exactly what Oracle, IBM, and every other enterprise-software vendor have been doing to their customers for years. Welcome to the club!

  • I am glad not to be in the club! I ditched Time Matters years ago.

  • Hey Sam:

    Thanks for highlighting what a lot of people miss as a hidden cost when starting up their law practice.

    I’m certainly not complaining about the arm-twisting upgrade policies of Time Matters or Amicus. Their users have been leaving in droves and moving over to Rocket Matter.

    I do feel bad for the consumers going through the issues. When they migrate over, I often feel like the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired…”:

    Larry Port

  • Jacob Chang

    Larry,

    Just so you know, there are droves of more solos waiting for Rocket Matter (or Clio) to drop its monthly pricing to sign up. Any chance of that happening soon?

    Jacob

  • Good convo, and I ranted a little bit about this topic earlier in the week on our blog, specifically asking what the role should be of software companies in supporting their users.

    http://www.chrometa.com/blog/should-software-companies-support-their-users-for-free/

    Like these slick new SaaS PM systems, we also include top notch support, and for free to boot. Then again, if we didn’t, we’d be toast! Building market share and mindshare is tough enough, so us upstarts need to do everything “right” to get the ball rolling.

  • Gyi Tsakalakis

    By no means as robust or law practice specific as some of the above mentioned, but ClockingIT is showing a lot of promise. Oh, did I mention it’s completely free…

  • Tony

    If you want a free law practice software, I recommend Houdini ESQ solo. You can download it free from http://houdiniesq.com.

    I have tried RocketMatter, Clio, and Houdini ESQ. RocketMatter is very simple but lacks a lot of feature, I won’t call it a practice management software. Clio has more features to offer but doesn’t have email or advanced search. Houdini ESQ has the most features and offers a very rich user expereince. I heard they also offer complete data migration service from TimeMatters.

    I am running Houdini ESQ solo, I can access my data anywhere anytime, all for free. Nothing can beat that!

  • Gordon Alexander

    I’ve been in the UK’s legal software industry for 30 years and there’s no way any serious business should expect any one or more of quality software/ support / training / fixes or enhancements for little or nothing. Unless a vendor also happens to be a rich philanthropist it needs revenue to stay in and ahead of the game and to pay its hardworking development and support staff, else one day maybe there’ll be no more software to fix, at any price!

  • Sorry, Gordon, but that is ridiculous. Customers should certainly pay for improvements and enhancements—if they want them—but not bug fixes.

  • I think characterizing TimeMatters10 as nothing more than a bug fix is wrong. A major change is the platform conversion from the top speed database professional edition (TPS) to a SQL version. Granted the new desktop extensions and the backup routine are not particularly enthralling – but the product is already near the top of the feature ladder. Most of the upgrades I assisted with were from version 6, 7, or 8, not 9. These firms were overdue for an upfit. Firms with version 9 may well object to the AMP, particularly if they already had Enterprise. I am a Time Matters certified consultant but support other products.

  • the product is already near the top of the feature ladder

    This may be the most comical comment ever posted on this blog.

    Time Matters has a long feature list, it is true, but that is just marketing copy. A car is no good if the steering wheel is installed in the trunk. Time Matters is roughly as useful.

    For 90% of users, Time Matters will require consultants to set up and training to use. It violates my cardinal software rule—I should be able to figure out how to use it in about 15 minutes, without spending any money—by at least a day and a thousand dollars (or more).

    Nothing about Time Matters is intuitive, and many of its features make no sense in their implementation. It is slow. It crashes frequently. Customer service is either useless or expensive. And on top of all that, LexisNexis seems more interested in trapping users with expensive—and perpetual—upgrades than in providing what its users want.

    Time Matters is bad software, and LexisNexis’s approach to pricing adds injury to insult.

  • Steve Miller

    “For 90% of users, Time Matters will require consultants to set up and training to use.”

    If by “users” you mean those solo practitioners for whom attaching a Word® document to an outgoing Outlook® email is SOP, then, yes, these folks need and should pay for a consultant’s help. And, by the way, with whom did those 90% consult before they purchased the practice management software? Maybe they bought the wrong product for their needs in the first place.

    I, too, am a Time Matters® (and Amicus Attorney® and PCLaw™) consultant. And a reformed lawyer. Yes, there are things which do not work correctly in Time Matters. And in Windows®. And in some Toyota’s. The cost of developing and continuously “fixing” Windows was embedded in the purchase price of 1.2 billion computers. The cost of repairing the Toyota’s will be absorbed by the accumulated profits from the 10 million previous Toyota vehicle sales.

    How many licenses are sold for any of these legal software products? The companies claim total firm usage between 20,000 to 30,000. While I am not privy to the actual numbers, I would be surprised if there are more than 2,000-3,000 new license sales per month. Is that alone a large enough pile of money to pay the developers and the people to answer the support lines and keep the lights on? Is an intermittent cash bubble around new releases a viable business model as opposed to a normalized cash flow through the AMP plan? Remember, under the AMP there is no charge for the software ever again. Would you rather pay your health insurance company a small amount monthly for a service you hope you never use or a large payment just before you enter the hospital? The AMP is like health insurance for your legal business.

    I am not an apologist for the software companies. The current business model I believe is broken and change is mandated. However, I would suggest to all of the whiners about the new pricing structure that “If you have to ask how much it costs, then you can’t afford it.” It is what it is. If you don’t like it move on.

    If you believe your O/S or your Toyota or your practice management software does not provide you with the value you expected, buy something else. Microsoft, Toyota and your legal software vendor will eventually get the message.

    • Steve and David,

      I find it rather telling that the comments arguing in support of Time Matters are from software consultants who have a financial stake in Lexis (and other enterprise software vendors) continuing to develop difficult-to-use software that requires the additional cost of paid training consultants. Why should good software not be able to work on its own, without additional support?

  • If by “users” you mean those solo practitioners for whom attaching a Word® document to an outgoing Outlook® email is SOP

    By “users” I mean people like me, who are capable of setting up and configuring a Linux box with dual monitors and working wi-fi, coding a website with CSS, XHTML, and PHP, building a PC from scratch, setting up a cross-platform LAN, and reinstalling Windows in an afternoon. And also solo practitioners who consider attaching a Word document to an e-mail to be a difficult task.

  • Steve’s response is intriguing. Think about it from the other way, though. If the software companies cannot make a decent products at a profitable price, they should get out of the market.

  • Ben Gains

    Interesting discussion but I find it odd that lawRD is mentioned and not HoudiniESQ. In fact, no where on lawyerist is it mentioned. It is the closest product to Time Matters, Prolaw and Elite available and it is 100% web based.

    They have some of the largest law firm in the north west and southern California using the product but this blog which seems to be very technical lacks any mention. Apart from many Time Matters users migrating to this product and several high profile Time Matters consultants adopting the product it never gets mentioned anywhere. Curious.

  • (1) Being “the closest product to Time Matters” is a huge negative. I hope you are wrong.

    (2) I first heard of HoudiniESQ a few posts above yours. As far as I can tell, the reason it never gets mentioned is because HoudiniESQ has almost no marketing presence online.

    Further, nobody from HoudiniESQ has ever offered us a tour and test drive. If they ever do, I would love to take a look. It looks promising. But I do not like to base a “review” on video tours, since I cannot ask questions or explore features.

    Also, the pricing page is nearly incomprehensible, and the one “version” I am interested in—SaaS—is missing entirely. Actually, holy cow is that entire website bad. Nice gigantic walls of text. I hope they design software better than they designed their website.

  • Hi Jacob:

    Thanks for your interest. It’s pure, simple economics of SaaS/Cloud which drive the recurring fee model. When you use a product like Rocket Matter, your computer essentially becomes a simple keyboard and monitor terminal. All of the CPU cycles happen on our end.

    So we need to continuously maintain our servers, provide ongoing massive security (from an operational, physical, codebase, and systems perspective among others), schedule backups, etc.

    However, if you’re looking to come on board and save a little dough, the good news is for Rocket Matter is that you can pay up front for a year and get a 15% discount, which is about 8 weeks or 2 months free. Not announced yet on our web site, but the policy’s in place.

  • The original post and the following comments all scream the need for Software as a Service – where updates and fixes can be posted incrementally and quickly without the client need to lose a weekend or a late night making fixes.

    As for the client paying for new features, let’s remember, the concept behind SaaS is to avoid custom work and to avoid putting in a bazillion features that only serve 10% of the client base.

    Yes, the vendor doesn’t get 100% of the market, but I would think even 50% of this market on a SaaS venue feeling really good about their purchase is MUCH better than World domination with dissatisfied clients who wake up one day and realize that THEY DON’T BUY SOFTWARE FOR FEATURES …

    … they buy it to help them get their work done.

  • Frank Rivera

    Sam,

    Sorry you found our site difficult to navigate. I think you may have visited another site. The Sign Up button under SaaS in on the right. We offer a free webinar everyday between 1pm and 2pm Est just about everyday. We also have a 800 number dedicated to answering questions. The Demo Q&A button on the right has the link. No registration required.

    True we do not market our product. Our product is marketed by our users. My opinion is if I have to push my own product then my product isn’t truly of value to those that are using it. If my users don’t think it is worth a mention to their peers then the product has missed its audience. Thankfully that is not the case. Although we have many Solos and small firms our clients are typically large firms wishing to moving from ProLaw, Amicus and TImeMatters. After a successful migration they do all the marketing.

    We understand that not every product will fit every firm that is why I think ESQ, RocketMatter and Clio all have a place and a niche. The user experience in all of the above is so much better than TImeMatters. Like night and day in my opinion. It killed me that I had to write TimeMatters WorldServer to look and feel like its desktop counterpart. I truly hated it. That being said, TimeMatters is the most robust PMS money can buy, period. It can do just about anything but it’s interface is very unintuitive and the user experience is stuck somewhere between 1998 Lotus Notes and WIndows Outlook 2000. If you can get past that then you have a pretty good system. That is if you can live in a Windows only environment and do not want or need web accessibility to your data without CITRIX

    When Bob Butler was with the company things were very different. You can’t say a product sucks just because the individuals running the company now do. In all fairness TimeMatters is still one of the best products you can use to run your practice. I run a professional services and subscription based software company so I can’t comment on LM’s AMP without sounding ridiculous but major changes like these are usually an indication that something else is going on. It’s not just a case of the blind leading the blind. They have ben doing that ever since they purchased TimeMatters. Something is up.

    If and when you get tired of TimeMatters we will be happy to convert your data, in a day including all its custom columns, property files, custom forms, etc while maintaining all relationships and links. You can hit the road running, your TimeMatters data in ESQ. Sweeeet.

    Ok, that’s all the marketing you’re gonna get out of me.

    -frank
    CEO HoudiniESQ

  • Ben Gains

    Sam,

    The site isn’t full of walls of text. What site did you visit? Um, the big orange button that says “SaaS Sign Up” might be a clue. LOL.

    Yes their software is very well designed. The pricing page is pretty clear and it sounds like you were on the purchase page not the sign up page.

    I guess if they don’t advertise they don’t have a need to or care to. No other SaaS product even comes close I think. I have tried them all when I dropped TM 6 months ago. Ever heard of AdvoLogix? They have been around longer then Rocket and Clio. I guess the serious players really don’t have to market a product if it delivers.

  • I am visiting http://houdiniesq.com/esq.html. The one with the blog that has not been updated since last July and the copyright footer that still shows 2009. If we are looking at the same site, we are both looking at an unhelpful sales website. It would not hurt to give interested browsers an informative and easy-to-navigate website with up-to-date information and links.

    For example, when I click “sign up” under “SaaS,” as I did before your comments, I am taken to a page with no option to sign up for SaaS. The only options are self-host options. I just now found the SaaS option under a different “sign up” link in the menu bar. Clicking “purchase” generates an error in Firefox. It works in Chrome, but I see no option to simply try the software without providing my credit card information.

    Frank, there is a lot of room between “pushing your product” and making sure people know about it, which could include offering bloggers and tour and trial. While I am sure our 32,000+ monthly readers might be interested in learning more about HoudiniESQ, I should not have to plunk down my own credit card in order to take a look, ask questions, and write up a review. If you are so confident in it, why not give a no-strings-attached 30-day trial—to everyone, including me—instead of requiring a credit card?

    When you play this hard-to-get, I start to wonder whether you actually care if anyone becomes a client or stays one.

    From what I can glean from your website and videos, HoudiniESQ looks like a pretty sweet product. It would be nice to put it through its paces and have a chance to ask your developers (not merely your customer service staff) more about it.

    By the way, I could not disagree more with this:

    In all fairness TimeMatters is still one of the best products you can use to run your practice.

    I used Time Matters for about two years. It was the single biggest impediment to running my practice, and getting rid of it was the single best thing I did for my practice at the time.

  • Frank Rivera

    hey Sam,

    What is best for your practice is what you decide of course so no further argument here regarding TM.

    Regarding the no risk trials. We do give everyone the option to use the product no strings attached. You can download Solo. It is free and requires no CC. It is the same code base and is what all reviewers have been using.

    You will start to see reviews popping up since we have conducted in depth demos and interviews recently. TechoLawyer will probably be the first with a techno-feature on HoudiniESQ in a few days.

    I would be happy to answer any questions you have and give you a one-on-one demo anytime. I make all the software decisions so I can asnwer all your questions. Feel free to dial the 888 number if you prefer. I answer the phone most times and if not just ask for me I’m always available to chat.

    In any case I want to thank you for pointing out the big problem with our site. The signup page was in fact missing all together and only accessible via the menu as you mentioned. Totally my fault. I should leave the website updates to the professionals.

    BG asked me to respond since he thought you were crazy but evidently the ESQ page is cached in his browser so everything looked fine.

    Thanks again.

  • For those following along, I am trying to play with the free “solo” version of HoudiniESQ, and now I understand that it is basically a browser-based, Flash frontend to a database, so it will look and feel the same—in your browser—no matter which version you use.

    I will give HoudiniESQ the review it deserves in the near future, and send all my questions to Frank.

  • HoudiniESQ seems content to let its product speak for itself. That is unfortunate, because it did not work when I first installed it. Or the second time, until I restarted Firefox and rebooted my computer a couple of times. By the time I finally got it working, I had completely lost interest. Nothing this hard can be any good.

    A week later, I tried again on a whim, and the buttons (pulled right out of OSX, from the looks of them) did work, but I was not able to accomplish much. I could not connect to my Google Apps account (although that is “recommended”) and it moved so slowly I could not even explore the software.

    HoudiniESQ has a few other quirks I don’t understand, either. For example, I can’t figure out why the address book is called “roster,” which makes it sounds like software for managing a sports team. Or the built-in time delay if you enter your login information incorrectly.

    Apparently, the owner of HoudiniESQ answers the customer support line, but I should not have to call support just to install a bit of software. I have installed much more complicated software (like Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux) with little or no difficulty.

    Uninstalled. Maybe HoudiniESQ just does not like my system, but I am not interested in software I cannot use.

  • Most Software-as-a-Service enterprises I’m familiar with can Agile they’re way into a release within a month or two.

    As March comes to an end, does anyone know if LexisNexis is close to fielding a SaaS version of TimeMatters?

  • k-man

    HoudiniESQ sounded promising based on most of the descriptions here, but they lost me at Flash.

    The fact that their website utterly fails if scripting is blocked (complete with “put alternate code here” error message!) did not help inspire confidence.

    If I can’t even access the main website from low-powered mobile systems like iPhones, Blackberries, etc. (no flash support) I’m not sure I want to bother. That’s without even getting into shiny toys like the iPad.

    And seriously? An All-Flash/Flash-only home page that takes over 30 seconds to load, before you even get a “skip intro” button?

  • Bill

    HoudiniESQ has a mobile version which is not Flash based for mobile phones. It works very well on my iPhone, I have all my contacts at my fingertip and I can check email and enter appointments easily.

    Flash does take some time to load the very first time, but it is much faster later. With flash you have interactive user interface, you can work with multiple windows at the same time and it dramatically increases your productivity. It’s not the slow page by page refresh experience I had with RocketMatter.

  • ploogman

    I can’t tell which of the other messages above are from Frank Rivera, but I can guess.

    So much hype.

    Why not let people actually demo it?

    Seems weird.