Are you looking at your software as if it’s a partner in your firm?
In this episode, Zack is joined again by Joyce Brafford, lawyer and practice management guru. They talk all-in-one practice management software vs integrators and dive into the benefits of CosmoLex by ProfitSolv, a true all-in-one software.
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- . All-in-one software.
- . Considerations before purchasing software.
- . Benefits of CosmoLex.
Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts
Zack Glaser (00:35):
Hey all, I’m Zack Glaser, the legal tech advisor here at Lawyerist, and this is episode 413 of the Lawyerist Podcast, a sponsored podcast episode in these, we’re joined by a legal voice or company and we discuss the newest features, happenings, and trends in the legal world. We’re excited to offer these episodes to our audience and we hope you enjoy them. Once again, I’m joined by Joyce Brafford, a practice management guru from ProfitSolv, and we’re talking about all-in-one practice management solutions, what they are, who they’re for, and what questions to ask any provider about new technology.
Joyce Brafford (01:12):
Hi Zack. It’s great to be here with you again today. I am Joyce Brafford. I am a legal tech practice management advisor. I am a licensed attorney and I am notorious for having long conversations anytime I do one of these programs with anyone. You’re not the only person, Zack who has to edit a tremendous amount <laugh> from,
Zack Glaser (01:34):
I think it might at some point to put together the stuff that winds up on the editing room floor just as a outtakes of advice from Joyce, outtakes of advice from Joyce Brafford,
Joyce Brafford (01:45):
Joyce Brafford. B-roll <laugh>.
Zack Glaser (01:49):
Well, Joyce once again, thanks for being with us. There’s a wealth of information in your head. You’ve been doing this for a while and I really enjoy talking about practice management things. Today specifically, I want to talk to you about all-in-one law practice management software versus that integrator, that hub that connects all of those pieces of software and when we might want to use one versus the other and really what they, the differences are. So I guess when you think of an all-in-one, something that is complete, what do you think of? What are the modules? What are the functions?
Joyce Brafford (02:29):
Yeah, that’s a great question, Zack. There are some things that every single practice management all-in-one solution has to, you have to track time, you have to be able to create your bills or your invoices and run your pre invoice workflow. You have to be able to communicate with your clients what is going to make a solution. Truly an all-in-one in terms of the market. Where we are today is if it has accounting built into it so it’s practice management time billing plus accounting built into it. And that is what most of the products out there will say, differentiates an all-in-one versus a non-all-in-one. But I don’t like to just stop. There are other things that are pretty important that a law firm needs to do. You need to keep track of your leads, You need to be able to track your documents. You need to be able to store your information somewhere. You need to be able to communicate internally, you need to have some type of knowledge or learning management system for your current staff and for people you bring on board. So the way the market tends to define all-in-one is, in my opinion, it’s pretty limited , but if you see someone advertising something, it says, Oh, we’re an all-in-one. It’s because they have time billing and accounting all built into a single solution.
Zack Glaser (03:45):
. To me, I think that’s absolutely correct, that all-in-one, although it is a helpful definition, it really does just mean we have kind of your law firm accounting and in our reviews I tend to differentiate an all-in-one from a true all-in-one true to me. And it is because like you said, the market is kind of moving forward a lot of times. An all-in-one is really just something that has accounting and it says, we don’t integrate with anything.
We don’t work and play well with other things because it’s all supposed to be here we are where you are supposed to work out of. And a lot of times people find them lacking and I think, I don’t wanna say they get a bad name because of that, because they don’t get a bad name. all-in-one’s work very well if you get the right one for your practice. But we don’t tend to have CR many times because that’s not something that has been classically built into your law practice management system anyway, or even integrated into the law practice management system. Lawyers don’t always think I need a front end intake CRM Yeah, but that’s where we’re going. Certainly it’s where you’re very familiar with CosmoLex and Rocket Matter certainly where CosmoLex is going with Law Ruler, I don’t even wanna say integration, it’s the Law Ruler synthesis.
Joyce Brafford (05:09):
It is. That’s exactly what it is, Zack. That is exactly what it is. It’s taking this technology and it’s building it out within CosmoLex within Rocket Matter, within all of these solutions. And in fact, I just wanna shout out to all of the legal tech solutions out there, not just within the Profitsolv, all family of branch where I spend most of my time, but across the market there has been a tremendous push towards finding the right technology and putting it in a single house all under a single house, all under a single roof for whatever client base you’re working for. And I think that the technology that lawyers have today is light years ahead of where it was just five years ago. And that is because a huge number of these large companies just keep buying up really, really good technology and investing in it. And as a lawyer myself, I think it’s a really exciting time to stop, evaluate, think about what’s important because you have a better choice today about what you’re going to use than you have ever had in your entire career,
Zack Glaser (06:17):
And that’s daunting Now, it used to be daunting because we didn’t know what the cloud was as lawyers. It’s like, is my stuff secure? Is it gonna work? Am I gonna be able to access it all the time? And we’ve gotten past that in my mind at least, or at least I think for the listeners of this show. But now it’s daunting because of fomo because there’s so much out there. Do Yeah, it’s true. How do you determine is an all-in-one for me, is an integrator for me is something somewhere in between? Because it’s a spectrum. And I think when we think about it in my mind, CosmoLex is on one into the spectrum for all-in-ones. It is a true all-in-one. And I think it’s a good example. It is a good, I don’t wanna say replacement, but kind of movement from some of the legacy software that was out there that was on premise. I agree with that. And it has a lot of those hard to defined features that generally have to do with accounting.
Joyce Brafford (07:13):
That’s absolutely true. That’s the backbone of CosmoLex. It’s not how most software in the marketplace right now is built, but that absolutely is true for CosmoLex. And I just wanna pause here for a minute, Zack, and say CosmoLex really was designed from the outset and we’re sort of evolving now, but from the outset, it was designed to be a replacement for Legacy software. It was not specifically designed for people who are coming from a cloud-based provider or a SaaS solution to move to another SaaS solution. It happens for a lot of really good reasons because of the strong accounting principles built within CosmoLex. But the majority of folks who choose CosmoLex for their firms are people who have been in practice for a long time, who have a server-based solution, who had some reticence about cloud adoption and are looking for something that’s gonna make them feel comfortable and not move too far away from the way they work in their legacy system right now.
So if you’re thinking about a solution and you’re brand new out of law school and you’ve been working in a cloud solution that you got for free by virtue of being an attorney, I know I did a and you don’t have a lot of data, I honestly don’t know that X is going to be your top choice. I can give you reasons why. I can give you reasons why anything in the port coat the profit all family would be a good choice for you, that accounting is strong. But if you happen an established firm and you have 10 plus years of data, and you’ve got folks who at some point in their career wrote down their time on a legal pad <laugh> and handed it to their assistant, Cosmo is generally a good fit. And I kind of feel like I’m disparaging the team here when I say that. But there’s so many firms, you just need to it. It’s time to make a change. And they’ve been scared to before. Now
Zack Glaser (09:05):
That’s true. And I think when you talk about people that have written their time on legal pads and handed it to somebody, we’re not talking 30 years ago when I started, we had a folder for every file and we had tons of files on the front of it was the information that we needed immediately stapled onto the front and then stapled onto the back was time sheets keeping track of our time for that file. And we have moved, frankly, my opinion beyond that <laugh>. So I want to touch on something you got at there though, as well as having a lot of data, having a ton of data. One of the other things that I think is a benefit of an all-in-one is that you don’t have this information siloed.
So if you’ve got something like law rulers engine, let’s say feeding your, your CRM, but then you’ve got full accounting on the back end as well, you can bring all of that information together and it’s pretty simple to run a report and say, what are my cases that are coming in worth, What’s the value of my clients? And I don’t mean that in a cynical way of how much are my people worth, but it is helpful in saying, where can we do our marketing? Can I hire, hire somebody to help my clients more? So it doesn’t even have to be a what’s literally, what are the dollar signs that are on the back of my clients? Well, wait, where can I spend money? Where can I afford to spend money to make my clients happier? But all-in-one has all of that information in the same spot.
Joyce Brafford (10:39):
So I like to think of it as a sort two-part reason why and all-in-one matters. One is I like a single source of truth. I don’t want to have to go to multiple products to see did I fully capture my cost on something. Do I truly know how much I’m supposed to be paid on this? Did I reconcile something in one system and not in the other? Did I record an intake in one solution and not in another? Am I missing a signature? Did I actually get a signature on that fee agreement? Did I truly collect the electronic payment information? Do I have a credit card on file for someone so I can automatically replenish my trust account? There are reasons you need a single source of truth. And when it comes to understanding where your cases are, if you don’t have a bidirectional sync recruit integration with something, it can be truly challenging.
The other side of this, that’s not so much about hiring folks, but the day-to-day management is, I get so frustrated when I personally am trying to solve a tech problem and there’s not a single person I can go to. I’ll go to some person and they say, Well, you have to go to somewhere else <laugh>. Well, we can’t solve that. That’s actually not on our side. That doesn’t work for us and we can’t fix that for you. Right? It drives me batty. that’s the other benefit of an all-in-one. You have the phrase that the support team uses is a single throat to choke <laugh>, which is a very violent way to describe that, but it’s true. I wanna be able to say, Listen, I don’t care where I am in my practice. Whatever point where someone is along in the process or what I’m trying to find, I don’t wanna have to try to track down a support team. I don’t wanna have to try to get multiple support people on a phone call or a Zoom meeting together. I just wanna call support and get it figured out. And when you’re in that day-to-day in your practice, that’s a huge time saver.
Zack Glaser (12:32):
Yes. Now, on the other side, sometimes I think that people think that it reduces creativity a little bit on what I can do with myself. And so I get that that’s fair. But having that single place to go to say, How is this supposed to work? And again, as an attorney, sometimes we don’t want somebody to tell us how to work <laugh>. And again, That’s fair. That is perfectly fair.
Joyce Brafford (12:57):
It is fair. Yeah. And a little narcissist sometimes.
Zack Glaser (13:03):
No, just a little bit. Yeah.
Joyce Brafford (13:05):
Just a smidge. There’s a reason we get into the business. So I do think that it’s important to know that a good all-in-one is constantly innovated and you have a team that works on it all the time. So just to talk about the way the sausage is made for just a second, I personally am on several conversations with the product management and engineering team several times a week. And we’re there and we’re talking about the feature requests that our customers have submitted to us by support tickets or phone calls, whatever it happens to be. And we prioritize things and we talk about what it would take to develop these features. And it is constant motion, It’s frenetic from my perspective because I’m not actually in the engineering team because every time we have these meetings, there’s something else that they’re working on, there’s something else that they’re delivering, and they’ll provide the updates on the weekly improvements that they did specifically for CosmoLex.
And it’s incredible how fast things happen and how responsive they are to the client base. But I do think that that’s incredibly fair. That idea that you wanna be creative, you wanna innovate the way you manage your own practice, that you want to constantly get better. And a system that blocks you in can sometimes be a challenge for your practice, right? If you wanna create a billing model or something like that. So it, it’s important for you to think of your software as a partner in your business. And if you don’t have a way to collaboratively work with a partner, then it’s a not a successful partnership. Right? Right. I think, again, that’s just one of the reasons I love, I love CosmoLex so much, one of my favorite platforms, in the entire industry right now.
Zack Glaser (14:51):
I think that’s a really, Well, I know that’s a really good point. You obviously know that’s a very good point with the all-in-ones of when looking at these, you need to be looking at the innovation, looking at the investment. Are people moving forward with this? Because that’s the difficulty a lot of times with legacy software, a lot of times with smaller software now, smaller software or startup software, sometimes they’re more nimble, Sometimes, you are literally sending an email to the owner of the company and they’re saying, Yeah, we’re great. But the benefit of having a piece of software that has high investment in it is that you’re getting a lot of motion forward as well. You are having a lot of people say, Hey, this is a problem on that we want solved, or this is a tweak. But when I think about are you limited creatively a little bit in how you work, I think of Apple versus pc.
Joyce Brafford (15:46):
That’s a great example.
Zack Glaser (15:48):
If you live in that Apple environment, are you limited in what you can do? Of course. Is it limited for the average user? No. <laugh>,
Joyce Brafford (15:59):
Zack Glaser (16:00):
Joyce Brafford (16:01):
Zack Glaser (16:01):
Joyce Brafford (16:03):
Zack Glaser (16:04):
And so getting into that Apple environment, does it benefit most people to just go, How does Apple want me to do this? I want to do this. How does Apple want me to do this? And let me just do it that way, as opposed to having to build that out in a PC system.
Joyce Brafford (16:19):
Yeah, no, that’s exactly, That’s exactly it. So when you look at an all-in-one, can it do the basics of what I need for it to do? Can it meet me where I’m going to be in 2, 3, 5 years? Right? It’s hard to predict out past that five year mark for any software. Very challenging. But that 2, 3, 5 year mark, you really do need to be thinking about and you need to look how responsive are they to their clientele? How quickly do they address problems? And when they come up, right? Health, transparent, are they with me with any question that I ask, where does the data live? Who owns the data? What happens if there’s a breach? What happens if something goes down? How do I connect these modules or these pieces of this software together? Who’s responsible for getting an answer back to me? How fast can I get training? You need to be able to call someone and get those answers right now, they shouldn’t have to go back and look and think. Everything that you get should always be in writing. You should have a company that’s very comfortable putting any of those answers in writing for you. And that’s again, not just one software provider. That’s absolutely everything you do for your business. I love it. I love thinking about these things exact, these conversations are so much fun for me.
Zack Glaser (17:36):
<laugh> obviously, and you have a ton of information on that. So I wanna pause real quick and make everybody rewind about 30 seconds on this because that right there, that kind of laundry list of things to ask really is extremely good advice on how to go into a demo and how to go into dealing with any piece of software, but especially a practice management system, where does my information live? A piece of software, a provider should be able to answer that for you. And if the person on the phone or on the video call can’t somebody can. And if they can’t, then we probably have some questions that are unanswered. Where does it live? Who owns it? What’s the security around it? But then also kind of how do I do intake and things like that just for everybody listening, it is okay, it is expected to ask those questions. So take it back. I think it’s probably a minute at this point, but take it back a minute and listen to what Joyce just said. That’s really, really solid advice on how to go into kicking the tires on these platforms.
Joyce Brafford (18:49):
So two pieces of advice that I just wanna add to that, is you should always at least request a trial for software. Not everyone can give you a trial just because of how things are set up. And sometimes it’s not valuable as software until you go through the setup or migration process. I understand that. But if you can get a trial, you should. And in that trial, you should try to break the software , you should try to break the rules. You should try to do crazy things, you should try to do the most unexpected thing that your law firm might ever possibly do when you should really try to break the software because you wanna break it now before you buy it, right? <laugh>, right? That’s what you should do. And the other thing is you should try to stump your demoer.
So when I’m in any of the demonstrations with the product specialists on any of our teams, I start off by letting the person know that I think our product specialists are the absolute best period hands down in the world. And that if you can so them, I will personally send them a gift basket. So you’ve got a lot on the line. If you are ever in a demonstration with me, if you can stump the demoware and they don’t know the answer to your question, you get a gift basket that’s gonna come from me personally, <laugh>. And I think you should try ask ridiculous questions. Ask things that might not be day to day , because everyone is gonna sell you software that’s gonna work in the best-case scenario, what you want is software that’s gonna work in the worst case scenario, what happens if you are in southern Florida and your law firm was decimated?
How do you get your data? How do you access that? Are there data centers near there? If so, where’s the data back up? Who owns that data? What if you decide, Hey, I don’t have any money. I can’t do this. I need to pull all of my data out. Is that software company going to assist you? Not just say, Yeah, it’s your data. Are they going to assist you in your worst time in getting that data out so you can effectively represent your clients? That’s what you want. Because when you buy software folks, I mean, when I said it earlier, it’s not just about buying the newest flashiest thing. And I do wanna talk about some new flashy things that CosmoLex has <laugh>. Sure. But it’s about finding a partner who is reliable and that you understand what’s gonna happen when things go bad. Because partnership agreements are never written for when things go, they are written. So everyone knows what their responsibilities are in the worst of times.
Zack Glaser (21:13):
Spoken like a true lawyer.
Joyce Brafford (21:15):
Spoken like a true lawyer.
Zack Glaser (21:17):
<laugh>. Well that’s a lot of us lawyers going out there and negotiating our contracts for our software. Forget that we’re lawyers and they forget that we’re supposed to be the cynical ones, the most reasonable person in the room. The one thinking about when things go bad. I think that’s fantastic advice. Well, let’s move from that and let’s get into what are we seeing advancing in all-in-ones. Now, when we talk about all-in-one versus what I kind of say sometimes true, all-in-one something that is actually bringing together all the stuff, the modules that we might use in our office. So what are some of the things that we’re seeing being brought into all-in-ones now?
Joyce Brafford (21:58):
So two things that I think are really important that just about everybody has got ahead and jumped on the bandwagon with is CRM and e-signature. You need to be looking for these folks. You don’t need to go out there and buy a separate e-signature tool. You don’t need to go out there and buy a separate CRM tool. You need something that lives within your practice management solution. So let me talk about this from the X perspective, for just a second here. With CosmoLex, we have a sister company in our big group called ProfitSolv. The sister company is called Law Ruler. And we’ve taken that law ruler technology and we’ve built it directly into CosmoLex. So when you’re going through marketing, you’re getting people who pop over to your website or who give you a call or who are potential clients of yours, you need to be able to capture that information.
You need to be able to respond to them quickly. , you need to be able to give them the tools they need so you can have an effective consultation to determine if they are actually going to be clients of yours. You need to get signatures from them, you need to get payment on file,. All of these things have to happen in an effective intake process. And what really sets the CosmoLex solution apart from others in the market is how advanced it is. In terms of setup. So you’re not just tracking where Ali is pinged from. So did it ping from Google Ads? Is it a paper click somewhere else? Did they come to you from just a natural search on Bing? Right? <laugh>,
Zack Glaser (23:25):
I like the Bing reference then
Joyce Brafford (23:27):
There’s more to it than that. There’s more to it than that. You wanna be able to capture have they seen you before? Have they been to your website before? You need to be able to not only track where they came from, but you wanna track the effectiveness of your ad spend. , you’re probably spending some money on marketing and you need to be able to track that effectively. So tracking the ad spend, tracking where things come from, then immediately queuing things up for your intake manager, whether that’s you or someone else on your staff. They open their computer in the morning and they say, Okay, these people came to us since we were closed last night, or since I’ve opened this program last. You’ve got a soft phone built right into it. So you can make calls directly outta the program.
You can set up automatic text messages with folks. There’s a tremendous number of intake forms that you can create. Either just one big intake form or separate forms based on practice area. There’s all sorts of form logic built in. So if they say it’s an immigration matter versus a family law matter, you’ve got different information that you need to gather. So it is an advanced CRM. I mean, we’re talking about the folks who come to the Law Ruler technology that’s now built into CosmoLex and it’s part of CosmoLex technology. These are folks who were using things like Salesforce before, and I know not all years are super familiar with what Salesforce is, but it is the number one CRM on the planet. And there’s a reason this is so fantastic. And having that information in the CosmoLex ecosystem where everything you capture is just part of your record, makes it easy for your firm. You don’t wanna create roadblocks or friction where there doesn’t need to be.
Zack Glaser (25:07):
So two things real, real quick on that. We have a video where somebody walked me through, I think Erica Berler walked me through a demo of CosmoLex and Law Ruler So people want to see more on that. We’re gonna put that video link into the show notes. So Joyce, what are some of the other things that we’re adding into these all-in-ones? I heard you say something about E-signature and that peaks my interest in something that’s actually fully integrated into an all-in-one system.
Joyce Brafford (25:36):
Yeah, no, this is absolutely phenomenal. So we’ve built the Imagine Share l, share Lex sign capability directly out into CosmoLex. So when you’re in a CosmoLex matter or in a document folder in CosmoLex, you have the ability to request a signature directly from your practice management solution. There’s no logging into something else. There’s no portals that someone has to manage here. You just request a signature. And then when that document comes up, it says, Okay, do you have a template where you want the signature to live? Or do you wanna just throw some signature information on here? And you’ve got all kinds of fields, you’re like 30 different fields, signature name, timestamp, date, whatever it happens to be. It’s all there and you can just plop it. And I say that in the most technical way possible. You plop these fields <laugh> anywhere you want to on top of this document, and it’s really fantastic.
And then what’s really, really cool about this is it doesn’t come from an email like document management tool request the signature from you,. It comes from an email that’s associated with your firm. This is a common email that this client has seen before. They know what’s associated with your firm, they have confidence in it, and then they open the signature. What makes this special why an e-signature tool like this matters is because it completely avoids email. So if you go back and you think about email, there’s not been a tremendous amount of advancement in email since email was created. It just is email. And that means you’ve got public servers located all over the globe that your email file passes over. And in many cases a copy of that email is saved for some portion of time on that public email server.
And even if it’s encrypted, it’s there. If it’s encrypted, okay fine, that’s better than not encrypted, but it’s still there. So what you wanna do is anytime possible, avoid a public email server when you have a sensitive document, whether it’s a work product, whether it’s collecting personal identifying information, HIPPA, anything related to healthcare information. Anytime you have sensitive data, you should not email it. So notify your client via an email, but then have them actually fill out this document via a link and then it gets populated right back into your CosmoLex solution. It’s beautiful, it’s secure, it’s easy. You have multifactor authentication solutions that you can set up beyond just a password. It’s highly customizable, but really more than anything, it’s integrated, it’s easy and it’s secure
Zack Glaser (28:09):
And I will say, everybody roll back again to hear that again, anytime you have sensitive information, client information, if you can avoid it, do not send it via email. You need to be capturing that information in a way that is much, much more secure than email. And CosmoLex for its part has this Imagine Share kind of document management e-signature capabilities. We also have a video, a demo video on the Imagine Share capabilities as well, which I’ll put in the show notes also if you want to see how that works and see more about that. Cause you can probably gather from what Joyce is saying, that there’s a lot more information in there. There’s a lot more capabilities than what we’re able to get to in just this podcast. Well Joyce, obviously we could rattle on about this for a long time and I’m sure we will in future episodes. I really appreciate you being with us. If people wanna learn more about CosmoLex, obviously they can Google it, but they can also go to CosmoLex.com/lawyerist where they can get a demo, they can see a lot of information about CosmoLex. And it’s my understanding that there’s something special about demos in the month of October.
Joyce Brafford (29:24):
Yes, absolutely. If you are able to attend a demo in the month of October, CosmoLex will send you an absolutely free set of Apple AirPods. Oh wow. And if you like CosmoLex and you decide to go ahead and buy, and again, this is during the month of October you can trade in those AirPods for an Apple Watch. So we want you to come see the solution and it’s worth it. We’re willing to give you something and all we need from you is your time.
Zack Glaser (29:51):
That’s fantastic. Just for the demo even. That’s it. And I speak from experience that CosmoLex at least something worth demoing, especially if you’re in that all-in-one area. So Joyce once again, I really appreciate your time and I really appreciate the information of the conversation. Thank you.
Joyce Brafford (30:08):
Thank you, Zack. It’s been a pleasure.
The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you.
is the Legal Tech Advisor at Lawyerist, where he assists the Lawyerist community in understanding and selecting appropriate technologies for their practices. He also writes product reviews and develops legal technology content helpful to lawyers and law firms. Zack is focused on helping Modern Lawyers find and create solutions to help assist their clients more effectively.
Joyce is an attorney in North Carolina who has worked in or around legal tech for more than a decade. In that time, she’s presented time-saving, money-making, client-satisfying tips to thousands of lawyers, paralegals, office administrators, and law students. Her goal is to help every legal professional find tools to build thriving businesses. She’s a mom of 2 and loves to cook.
Last updated October 25th, 2022