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Once, lawyers suffered from a dearth of specialized law practice management software, and if you were not at a firm large enough to get something custom-built, you limped along with Outlook or a clunky, old-school software package. However, the success of practice-management suites like Clio and MyCase have made it clear that lawyers are desperate for something to help them manage contacts, emails, documents, and billing in one package.
The latest entry into the increasingly crowded field is the nearly-impossible-to-Google-accurately Ciinch. (No, that is not a typo. No, we do not know why it is spelled that way.) Besides the now-standard array of timekeeping, calendaring, and matter tracking tools, Ciinch boasts some features that lawyers have come to expect, such as online invoicing (though Quickbooks integration is yet to come, which may pose a problem for many) and Dropbox and Google Drive integration.
Ciinch offers a free seven-day trial and does not require a credit card — or any other information beyond your name, email, and firm name — to sign up, something which really should be a feature of all practice management software. If you cannot easily test-drive something, the chances you will actually adopt it are probably pretty small. In terms of monthly and annual cost, Ciinch is competitive, charging $29/user per month, or $19/user per month if you choose to pay annually. That is quite a bit less than applications like Clio and CosmoLex, but unfortunately you don’t get what you don’t pay for.
Unlike most of the leading practice management applications, Ciinch does not allow you to import data from existing practice management software, nor does it integrate email or your existing calendar. If you do heavy-duty task, calendar, and document management via your Outlook account currently, as many lawyers do, Ciinch will make you feel like you are doubling up on your work. Finally, if one of your reasons to use practice management software is because you have become security-minded and want to create a secure client portal rather than emailing documents back and forth to clients, Ciinch can’t do that for you.
With those caveats in mind, who is Ciinch best for? If you are someone whose practice is relatively new and you have not yet accumulated a lot of data elsewhere, you probably will not mind Ciinch’s integration limitations. If you like to simply set and forget a timer while you are working on a matter and have a program spit out a time-based invoice when you are done, you will probably like Ciinch. If you are a fan of a clean one-page dashboard, Ciinch may be the practice management application for you.
From the dashboard, you can hop over to matter creation, your calendar, an on-the-fly task list, invoice creation, your files, your notes, or your contacts. It is simple, clean, and speedy. If you like the lean look that is all the rage in current web design, you will love Ciinch. But that simplicity is actually part of the problem. Ciinch looks and acts a lot like Basecamp and other similar web-based apps, which is to say that the legal aspect feels somewhat bolted on. It is a great space to store your files, your client info, and your task list, but it does not take into account the billing- and calendar-heavy needs of most attorneys.
Bottom line: If you are looking for something quick and efficient that helps you grind through your tasks each day, allows you to create a lot of reminders, and helps you with just invoicing rather than full-fledged accounting, Ciinch is a solid choice. If you need more features, though, wait until Ciinch matures a bit more.