Staying organized and finding the information you need helps you work more effectively in your law firm.
Too many lawyers lose valuable hours they could spend on billable work. One solution to that challenge is to choose the right legal technology to manage your law firm. Legal matter management software can help lawyers stay organized, efficient, and competitive.
At a broad level, these tools can ensure that all of your case information and law firm practice processes are as automated and streamlined as possible.
Choosing the right law matter management software requires thinking about what you want from a tool and comparing them against feature sets and software reviews.
Matter Management vs. Case Management vs. Practice Management
Case management and matter management are distinct but have heavy overlap.
Case management software is often used by those lawyers involved in cases with a high volume of documents or coordination with other lawyers. Case management systems help lawyers organize and track all these materials.
Matter management, however, extends beyond the organization of documents and dives into many tasks involved in a legal practice. Key features for these tools include things like:
- Creating and opening a legal matter
- Assigning lawyers and other team members to members
- Researching materials for cases
- Setting timekeeping expectations
- Reviewing data on who worked on which matters.
Overall, matter management allows law firm leaders to see how the firm's staff and resources are allocated to specific cases to determine if this moves the firm towards bigger goals.
Many practice management tools roll up case management and matter management features. Some popular tools provide the full benefits of comprehensive practice management software.
Top Law Matter Management Software Tools
There are plenty of options in the market for law firm matter management software.
We’ve rounded up some of the top tools with law matter management features that could improve your law firm’s productivity and operations.
Many of these tools have crossover, with most core features in common. For this list, we focused on what lawyers and law firm staff have to say about these tools in action to give you an idea of any drawbacks to be aware of.
The tool's pricing, basic features, and major cons will help you decide whether it's something you want to try.
Clio is one of the most popular case management tools on the market, and the pricing starts at only $39/month, making it accessible. You can handle many key tasks for a case right inside Clio, including attaching scheduled events, billed time, invoices, contacts, and documents to each case.
You can also automate client intake and communication with clients through Clio. Their software is cloud-based, so you can use it whenever you need to. Perhaps the biggest selling point of Clio is the hundreds of integrations that allow you to optimize your systems and processes.
Although Clio has plenty of positive reviews from law firms, there are some downsides.
Some attorneys feel it's too complicated for solo and small firms and that while it comes with lots of features and integrations that it's too hard to get an "at a glance" view of your law firm.
Other notable problem issues reported by lawyers and their staff include:
- Concerns about too many notifications
- Difficulty scheduling multiple client matters on the same court date
- A high learning curve
- The scope of integrations can be overwhelming
PracticePanther gets high marks for its easy-to-use interface, which means many lawyers are able to get up to speed quickly without any outside support.
It comes with 30 integrations, which might be too limited for some firms who want maximum connections with other tools. While limited, it does include tools like include Zapier, LawMatics, Smith.ai, and Google Calendar.
The cost for PracticePanther starts at $49/month. Many desirable features, like the ability to set up flat-fee billing, only come with the top pricing tier at $89/month.
PracticePanther has some other limitations, such as that you can't fully automate your client intake process.
Firms using this tool also report:
- Difficulty reading the onboarding instructions
- Lags in the middle of the day during heavy usage
- Challenges scheduling meetings with internal and external people
- Problems getting timely support from their customer service team
MyCase has some strong advantages when it comes to billing options, potentially eliminating the need for law firm billing software. You can set up contingency billing, flat fee, pro bono, and hourly, so you can customize what works for each client.
Many clients want to see flexibility in payment options for legal services, so this could be an easy way for your law firm to branch out and improve your firm profitability.
MyCase pricing starts at $39/month.
MyCase, as noted by reviewers, is not what everyone expects from a one-stop shop for legal matter management software. It has limited integrations, and the payment and practice management programs are located on different platforms.
Firms using MyCase also express dissatisfaction with things like:
- Lack of clarity over processing fees
- Being charged separately for some integrations
- Customer service issues
- The amount of time it took to set the firm up
- Lack of customization
Smokeball has some leading integrations that can really boost law firm productivity, such as with QuickBooks and LawPay. It also has built-in time-tracking software features, including grabbing time from things spent in places like Outlook or Word.
Their pricing starts at $29/month for basic access, but their highest-tier plan is one of the most expensive at $149/month.
One big problem with Smokeball is that it's not cloud-based, so you can't access it anywhere. If you spend a lot of time outside of your office, this tool may not be the right choice for you.
Some of the challenges reported by firms using Smokeball include:
- Lack of clarity over the frequency of file backup
- No being able to use it on Apple computers
- Lack of robust intake or lead management options
- Having to manually enter client info if coming over from another software
5. CARET Legal (Formerly ZolaSuite)
This tool is most helpful for lawyers who need help with time tracking. There are numerous options to track your time in this cloud-based program, but the rest of the tool lacks full automation.
Other solid features include client intake support and back-office data reporting. You can score this software starting at a rate of $79/month.
Some lawyers and law firm staff say the tool's biggest downsides are:
- Lack of automated triggers
- Limited document assembly tools
- Difficulty viewing displays (emails that overtake the screen or small fonts)
- Search options are not comprehensive or intuitive
- The iOS app doesn't perform at the same level as the desktop program
This tool helps from end to end with clients, from intake to billing. CosmoLex is popular because of its integrated accounting and time tracking.
A major asset is the Money Finder feature, which scans for billable work that remains uninvoiced. Their pricing starts at $89/month.
Some issues to consider when it comes to CosmoLex include:
- Inflexible pricing (paying for features you don't need)
- Limited integrations with other apps
- Accounting glitches reported by users
- Clunky and slow processing of payments and invoices
- It's hard to edit timesheets
Benefits of Law Matter Management Software
Law matter management software and tools that provide matter management functionality can bring a number of benefits to your law firm.
The biggest advantages of law matter management software or full-suite practice management software include:
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Better communication and collaboration
- Enhanced data security and compliance
- Easy access to the information you need for all cases
- Ability to track and respond to data
- Consistency across client service
- Improved client satisfaction and retention
- Cost savings and increased revenue
As with any software, choosing the right tool requires thinking about what your law firm needs. Then you can align those needs with the features provided by some of the best tools on the market.
You need to know your firm and the staff members who will interact with any matter management software to make the best selection. If you already have legal tech tools, such as a practice management suite, that covers these functions, then matter management software won’t make a difference.
Choosing the Right Software for Your Law Firm
If you already use some technology in your firm to streamline and automate things, you might choose a matter management tool that integrates well with your existing tools.
If you're in the market for a more comprehensive solution, you might choose software that offers combined benefits. This could eliminate the need for separate software for things like billing and invoicing.
Consider the law firm software that will help you provide better service, enhance profitability, and experience more streamlined operations to achieve your goals.