What can law practice management software do to set itself apart from an increasingly crowded field? Case management software should help lawyers manage their matters, time, documents, and contacts. To stand out, newer programs need to offer something a bit different. Zola, for example, does this by adding in some double entry accounting options.
PracticePanther uses Zapier to connect other apps together to PracticePanther to automate data transfers.
FileVine covers the basics and adds some very innovative enhancements such as the ability to easily communicate with clients via text and a robust settlement calculator aimed at attorneys who handle cases with multiple medical providers and settlement offers.
FileVine takes a bit of a different approach for its opening screen. Rather than defaulting to an overview of your cases, cashflow, calendar, etc., it opens with a “Feed” screen that looks an awful lot like a Facebook feed.
At first, it looks a bit odd and informal, but it is actually a pretty savvy and intuitive way to keep track of your workflow: the first things you see are your tasks—either that you’ve self-assigned or been assigned to—and current client communications. Permissions are granular, which means that different individuals in your organization can have various levels of access.
One of the things you can see on that opening screen is “Text.” That’s actually for texts to and from a client. The ability to text message directly with clients from within the program is one of the biggest innovations—and plusses—of this program. Here’s why:
10% of Americans own a smartphone but do not have broadband at home, and 15% own a smartphone but say that they have a limited number of options for going online other than their cell phone. Those with relatively low income and educational attainment levels, younger adults, and non-whites are especially likely to be “smartphone-dependent.”
If your practice intersects with anyone in those categories, being able to text them directly from the program (and from within a file, actually) is huge.
Each case is a “project” in FileVine. The sidebar of each case has all the standard things—contacts, calendar, reminders—but is also customizable depending on the case. Here’s the sidebar difference between a complex case:
and a case with fewer details.
As you can see, the left-hand menu can be customized to reflect the focus of the case. The flexibility is admirable. A minor quibble: I’d appreciate a way to alphabetize or sub-folder that menu, as once you’ve got ten-plus subcategories over there, it can get a bit tedious to scan the whole list.
FileVine’s custom reporting system is built to be flexible. You can put together a report based on nearly any data point in the system. This could get a bit overwhelming for a user that isn’t familiar with organizing reports, but FileVine provides assistance in creating custom reports.
FileVine has a settlement calculator built into the program. If you don’t practice in an area where you’re dealing with multiple or ever-shifting offers, this may seem like overkill. If you do, however, it’s very helpful. It’s embedded for each client, and you can adjust the cost of medical bills, expenses, the attorney percentage, and the settlement offer on the fly. Yes, you can manage the same data with a well-designed spreadsheet, but do you want to?
FileVine does custom pricing based on the specific needs of firms. That pricing likely will come in higher than some of the competition. That’s to be expected, given the level of support provided and the fact that you’re getting sort of a semi-bespoke solution.
Each firm is assigned what FileVine calls a “customer success engineer,” which is basically a business analyst. They work with you to come up with firm-specific solutions and create customized reports, among other things. FileVine also provides unlimited telephone text support. Scheduling a demo is likely the best way to find out what sort of pricing to expect.
FileVine isn’t for every firm, and the good news is that it doesn’t need to be. Targeting every possible type of user in the legal field can make for a mediocre product that is good for some people but ideal for none. FileVine’s ideal user is a firm dealing with cases like medical malpractice or personal injury class actions–or any other type of practitioner that routinely juggles a lot of numerical data or settlement offers. For that user, I can wholeheartedly recommend FileVine.