When figuring out the best way to manage a small law firm, you can't overlook the benefits of setting up a client relationship management tool. As your law firm grows, it's harder to track who expressed interest, who may be ripe for a follow-up, and the last time you checked in with an important referral partner.
Thankfully, the right CRM tool can organize all this for you and provide a more seamless experience for you and your contacts. Here are the most popular CRM tools for attorneys and the considerations to account for when selecting the one that suits your needs.
Hubspot is an industry leader in CRMs because it's easy to use and has robust tools. The paid plans have a ton of bells and whistles, but it's also a very effective free plan for lawyers who are just starting out with CRMs.
Some of the most important factors lawyers cite regarding Hubspot are:
- Email tracking
- Great customer support
- Customization options
- Links your marketing, service, and sales into one location
- Very simple to set up and use
Hubspot is better suited to smaller law firms than bigger ones, although there are paid/enterprise upgrades you can add as you grow. If you need to access things like meetings and sequences, you'll have to pay each month from the start.
Hubspot is intuitive and has plenty of video and screenshot tutorials, so it’s easy for attorneys to teach themselves how to use it.
Demand generation manager Matthew J. notes:
"Our organization relies on Hubspot for all of our outbound and inbound campaigns. Whether we're sending out emails to existing clients or creating landing pages to convert website traffic, we use Hubspot every day, making it an integral part of our marketing strategy. The email and landing page builders are incredibly easy-to-use and provide a high level of customization, allowing you to create campaigns quickly and keep your branding consistent."
While Hubspot is sufficient for most solo and small firm lawyers, there can be advantages to using an industry-specific tool. Law Ruler bills itself as a comprehensive workflow solution for lawyers that handles everything from the intake process to invoicing and settlement.
Some of the most important features in Law Ruler for attorneys include:
- Built-in email templates
- Advanced call tools like click-to-call, call recording, and call tracking
- Integrations with Clio, FileVine, TrialWorks, and Needles
- Appointment scheduling
- Calendar syncing
Some users have noted that the full range of features on Law Ruler can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time using a CRM.
William D. shares about Law Ruler:
"We were looking for a reliable and straightforward legal CRM for a mass tort practice. After a lot of research and demos, we decided on Law Ruler. Law Ruler does all the legal CRM basics well, and it offers more advanced features like document management, lead management, and text messaging for a reasonable price. We've had zero downtime, and new features are added regularly. Most importantly, it is easy to use and was quickly assimilated into our current systems."
Lawmatics is a legal industry-specific CRM. It includes law firm marketing automation software for capturing contact information, intake, and marketing. With built-in scheduling, file storage, and a good user experience, many of the features of Lawmatics make it a solid choice for law firms.
Some of the strongest aspects of Lawmatics are the comprehensive intake features, which can be fully automated. One downside is that it does not seamlessly integrate with document management tools.
A few other features to weigh out with Lawmatics:
- Custom forms
- Email marketing
- Two-way text communication
Intake director Arianna M. loves the additional training provided by the Lawmatics team:
"For anyone looking for a great, continuously improving client intake software, I will always suggest Lawmatics! I have never worked with a more helpful & attentive support team. No matter my issue, the team follows through on finding where the problem is, and even if they aren't able to provide immediate solutions, they always suggest other ideas or temporary fixes while they continue to work on it. They are also always open to hearing new ideas for integrations and new features! Monthly Deep Dives and regular webinars put on by the team keep users abreast of new functions and use cases for Lawmatics."
Captorra is excellent for setting up your workflows and handling intake management, but it also integrates with many other legal software tools.
One big feature of Captorra is that it's specific to personal injury firms. This is great if your primary practice area is PI, but this software is not well suited to other legal services.
This tool comes with features like:
- Email templates
- Automated workflows
- Document templates
- Client portal
The downside is that it's missing a few major features, such as email/calendar sync and appointment scheduling software.
One law firm owner noted the following about Captorra in action:
"Captorra allows you to see all prospects at a glance. Easy to sort by status, intake date, or other parameters. Captorra integrates with Aderant Total Office, so we don't have to re-enter client information once the prospect retains us. Allows us to create representation agreements by merging client info with templates, then can auto-send to client by email or text and use e-sign to complete. Also, auto-sends emails to pertinent staff for review. Inquiries from answering service, website, and chats are automatically sent to Captorra. Tracks activity like contacts, documents sent, etc. Creates tasks and reminders. Can track marketing sources."
Owned by LexisNexis, InterAction is made for law firms of all sizes. This CRM will work well for firms that love data analysis and synthesized reporting, enabling you to make decisions quickly.
InterAction excels in gathering client data from your firm, but that may be less important in legal than for other industries.
While some businesses might want to track a product buyer from the first time they signed up to an email list all the way through their future interactions to determine average touchpoints before someone becomes a customer, that kind of workflow is usually not relevant for a lawyer.
Some of the features of this CRM include:
- Autonomous synchronization with other tools, like Microsoft Outlook
- Pipeline/sales management
Some users have complained that the CRM is somewhat buggy and doesn't always work the same across all Internet browsers, so it's worth giving this one a try before you commit to it long-term.
One legal practice owner using InterAction says:
"InterAction is a helpful relationship management tool to stay organized and on top of who knows whom in the legal industry. It is fairly straightforward and easy to use."
Intapp is another general-purpose CRM that could be tailored to your practice. It's more focused on getting people to live events and retaining clients than on other CRM features.
Intapp may be a little more involved than most lawyers need, and some of the key features that perform well in other industries may not be relevant for a law firm.
Some top features of Intapp include:
- Communication with prospects through text
- Ability to gauge client interest based on their activity
- Create targeted marketing lists
- Run events
Zoho is a tool that works well for all kinds of companies, including both B2B and B2C. It can streamline capturing data from potential clients and equip you with solid reporting about what's working and what isn't.
It's also free for up to three users, making it ideal for a solo or small law firm. The mobile app gets good remarks from users, too.
Built with plenty of automation opportunities, some of the most popular Zoho features include:
- Workflow automation
- Contact management
- Deal management
- Lead management
Some users have complained that there are some bugs in the system that can reduce the power of the available automations and that tech support is not the easiest to work with, so this may be a less user-friendly option than other CRM systems.
One Zoho user states:
"Everything we need all in one spot, CRM, email marketing, chat, accounting, and so much more, all bundled together in a clean and user-friendly interface. On top of that, some very powerful reporting and analytics tools are part of the suite that helps translate all the data and information into valuable and actionable reports."
Salesforce often stacks up well against Hubspot. While not specific to legal, companies of all sizes and in many industries use Salesforce.
You can make Salesforce as simple or as complex as you want, which is nice for those firms who intend to grow. But adding customizations in Salesforce comes with a steep learning curve. Most business owners hire a consultant to plan and develop custom solutions within the platform.
Salesforce includes a full suite of features so you can pick and choose what is most relevant for your law firm. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Contact management
- Quote management
- Sales and service analytics
- Lead management
Some users of Salesforce say it can be hard to build complex customizations and that the program can slow down your computer if you have multiple windows open.
One user remarks:
"Salesforce Sales Cloud can do almost anything you need, assuming you're willing to put the time, resources, and effort into it. We've used Salesforce Sales Cloud as our CRM for nearly five years, and it has only gotten better as we've become more familiar with it and customized it to our needs. Salesforce is huge, and the opportunities for customization are endless."
Why Do Law Firms Need a CRM?
A CRM is necessary for every law firm because they can more accurately track and automate outreach to prospective clients than relying on manual systems like checking and following up on all leads in an email inbox.
You may not be ready or able to communicate with the client the second they complete a form, make a call, or join your email list. Making sure each potential client is added to your CRM ensures that you can connect with them, follow up, and boost their likelihood of hiring you.
Too many lawyers don't follow up with potential clients, leaving leads and revenue on the table. One study found that 60% of law firms don't even respond to an email inquiry, and 27% don't return a phone call or answer when a potential client reaches out.
Whether someone is actively searching for a lawyer today or you're building the foundation for future conversion, a customer relationship management system makes it possible to track critical details, such as who has reached out to you, which contacts are waiting on a follow-up, and which new clients are ready to move into your case management tools.
Don't let potential clients slip through the cracks. Having a CRM makes it easier to move leads through your pipeline, converting them into new clients. These tools also make it easier to improve your customer service from the outset, which could lead to additional outcomes like positive reviews, testimonials, and referrals.
CRMs also help law firms stay on top of the contacts that don’t belong in your case management software. A CRM can include referral partners, past clients, and vendors you work with, in addition to helping you organize your potential client pipeline.
What Should a Law Firm Look for in a CRM?
There are plenty of generic options for CRMs and some software that cater specifically to the legal market. Ultimately, you need to find something that meets your needs and the needs of any team members who will use this software as part of their role.
Consider the following factors when choosing CRM software for your law practice:
- Ease of use, including cloud-based access
- Onboarding support
- Integrations with other tools like law practice management software
- Customization options afforded by the tool (such as dashboards and reports)
- Automation options
- Quality of customer support
This is one case where keeping it simple may be better for you since you'll need to set up and use the CRM and then train other employees on it. There's no sense in paying for something that's far more complex than what's required. You and your staff may just get frustrated and stop using it altogether.
Decide on the core features most important for your goals and narrow down your law firm CRM list from there.
Do Lawyers Need an Industry-Specific CRM?
When looking at marketing tools for lawyers the vast majority of lawyers do not need a legal industry CRM. For many law firms, a multi-industry tools like Hubspot is sufficient for their needs. Another plus to Hubspot is that you can easily start on the free plan and see if it works for you.
The only big reason to consider an industry-specific legal CRM is if there's some integration with your existing workflow management software that will speed something up or fully automate something for you. Otherwise, Hubspot has a lot of flexibility that will serve your needs well and ensure you capture all the most important data about your prospective clients.
If you're looking to upgrade your marketing automation and a CRM solution is part of that, make sure you document the features you need and account for legal CRM software in your law firm budget.
CRMs are just one part of a law firm's tech stack. There are plenty of other tech tools for lawyers, such as practice management tools, case management tools, and intake software.
If you're increasing marketing efforts in other areas, such as law firm PPC, social media ads, or SEO for lawyers, having a CRM in place makes it simpler to connect with potential clients and nurture the relationship with them from that initial touchpoint.