Explore essential legal technologies for mid to large-sized law firms in this comprehensive guide. Learn about practice management software, document automation, billing, and more.
Law firms can benefit greatly from a robust tech stack to help manage the administration of and augment the legal work done at the firm. To help you evaluate and build out your tech stack, we’ve shared various types of legal technology below. Within each subcategory, you’ll find an overview of that legal software, as well as our recommendations of specific software to help manage your practice.
Some of the software that’s been shared here is specific to the legal industry (such as case management software), while some of the other software shared is more industry-agnostic and can be helpful for and fitted to use in legal contexts (such as project management software). Each can provide tremendous value-add to your practice.
The software shared on this list is geared towards practitioners at mid-sized and large law firms. Our specific recommendations are based on a number of factors, including size of the firm; scalability, scope, price, and functionality of the technology; and the software’s integration with a suite of legal tech products (i.e., LexisNexis, Westlaw, Thomson Reuters, Litera). To see recommendations best suited for solos and small firms, instead check out our piece [here].
If you’re curating a tech stack or looking for specific software for mid- to large sized law firms, review our breakdown of what kinds of software you should consider adopting in your work.
If you’re a solo practitioner or small firm, check out our equivalent software breakdown written with you in mind.
It’s important to have technology that will help you manage the work being done at the firm, all while allowing you to provide great and effective service to your clients. As you evaluate different software, it’s easy to get caught up in the types of available software. Three that may come up often for management include: case management, matter management, and practice management software. Often, the three are used interchangeably and may have overlapping features. We’ve broken down the three below and offered recommendations to help select the option that may be best suited for your firm.
Case management software assists with the tracking and management of individual lawsuits and cases at the firm, the tasks and statuses associated with it, and contact management, including relevant client contacts and information. It can also help with process management and put into place automated workflows to streamline tasks. As the name suggests, case management software is necessary for managing the litigation work done by the firm.
For mid-sized firms, consider:
MyCase: Multi-featured, but intuitive case management software for mid-sized firms
Matter management software is more comprehensive, as it encompasses all of the work done by the firm, including litigation and transactional work, and helps manage all of the relevant details of such matters, including client information, parties, involved, statuses, dates and deadlines, and billing information. Matter management software is necessary if your firm does more than just litigation focused work.
Our recommendation here is:
Litify: Integrated matter management software designed for mid-size and large law firms, built on the Salesforce platform
Legal practice management software is expansive, multi-functional software to help manage almost every day-to-day aspect of law firm operations. It may include aspects of case and matter management software, as well as other operational functions of the firm such as process management, billing, accounting, time tracking, and document management.
Our recommendations for best law practice management software for mid- and large sized law firms:
Aderant: Scalable legal practice management solution used by mid-sized and large law firms for practice management, with a number of integrated solutions
CARET Legal: End-to-end, mobile-friendly practice and document management solution
All three types of software can increase efficiency and productivity, as they organize and manage information within a single platform. With all case details easily available to attorneys and staff, the software allows for enhanced client communication as users can quickly respond to queries, update status, and stay abreast of any upcoming deadlines. A cloud based collaborative tool also allows for better communication and information sharing among internal teams, a need that continues to be pivotal for any organization, especially since COVID.
Practice management goes a step further to integrate necessary administrative functions right into the platform, organizing relevant timing, billing, and accounting information right into a client’s file.
Of course the functionalities of each of these may bleed into the other, but each is incredibly helpful in managing the work and communications done at your firm. Which one your firm might benefit will depend on the size of your firm and specific needs, and the specific functionalities offered by each software. Separately, the bigger your organization, the more helpful it might be to have specialized software.
Document management software allows attorneys to organize, store, manage, and collaborate on documents and files related to their legal work. Usually, client documents and emails are organized by client matter number, and workflows can be created to automatically store relevant emails.
At a larger firm, it’s vital to have a system to store and share documents for matters currently and previously worked on at the firm. Easy storage, retrieval, and sharing can ensure that all law firm attorneys and staff involved in a matter can easily collaborate and be aware of quickly changing drafts.
The firm’s DMS may also include: version and access control, integration of ethical walls, email integration, and automated workflows. With version control, changes can be easily tracked and older versions may be retrieved for other uses. Key to lawyers is the security of the documents. Since client documents include some of the most sensitive data at the firm, The DMS ensures secure storage, compliance with any regulatory requirements or client preferences, and that conflicts of interest are adhered to. It can also provide audit trails and proper archival of documents.
In this category, a couple of options stand out, including:
Gavel: Gavel’s platform allows you to store and share documents with other team members and clients within a robust document automation platform.
iManage: Popular document management system with options for both on-premise and cloud based email and document management. Integrates with the Microsoft Office suite
NetDocuments: Cloud based modular document management with certain apps and extensions for added productivity
Accounting software is designed to help law firms and legal professionals manage their financial transactions, bookkeeping, and accounting processes. While accounting software is vital for any sized firm, ensuring your accounting software can scale with your business and “account” for your growing client base, the complexity of transactions, and the number of matters is vital.
Accounting software can accommodate the intricacies of client billing, trust accounting, expense tracking, and financial reporting. Accounting software can help lawyers keep accurate records and make better business decisions with an up to date and comprehensive picture of their financial transactions. This might mean helping understand when to best raise rates, what types of discounts to offer, or when to hire additional employees as your firm or practice area continues to grow. The software can also help prevent any errors in data entry and calculations.
Accounting software may also include trust accounting functionalities. Trust accounting software (or accounting software with trust accounting functionalities) helps attorneys track and manage funds held in trust for clients, separately from law firm operational funds and in compliance with ethical requirements.
QuickBooks: Industry-leading accounting software great for mid-sized law firms looking to scale
PcLaw: All-in-one accounting software that was built by and integrates with other LexisNexis products
Time tracking software helps legal professionals, including lawyers and legal support staff record and more effectively manage their billable hours and non-billable activities in order to ensure accuracy in billing to clients and compensation for attorneys.
Time tracking software assists resource managers and more senior attorneys to see a high level picture of the work being done by the practice group, as well as the capacity to take on new matters. This makes resource allocation and management much simpler for managers, and creates a better balance for those doing the work. It also allows for greater efficiency, as it gives a clear picture of how time is spent to make better decisions on which processes may be streamlined, augmented, or completely removed. Time tracking software may also integrate with or be included in billing software to create a seamless experience between time tracking and billing.
Our recommendations include:
Intapp: Timekeeping tool that automatically captures both billable and non-billable timekeeping; uses AI powered approach for managing specific guidelines
Amberlo: Comprehensive timekeeping solution that manages time and expense tracking, as well as onboarding, communications, and billing
Billing software is designed to help law firms manage their billing and invoicing processes. Often integrated with or in the same system as time tracking software, practice management, or accounting software, billing software allows lawyers to more effectively and accurately collect and track hours and can also assist in accounting for different billing models, including retainers, discounts, and differing rates. It can save time in processing bills, as it automates the bill preparation and invoicing processes.
Integrations with management or other software also allow for easy management of client data, case information, and billing all in one palace. Automated invoices ensure that clients receive accurate, standard, and well organized bills. Other features in billing software may include: expense tracking, retainer management, and reporting and analytics. Many legal billing software solutions offer features to ensure compliance with ethical rules and regulations related to billing and client funds management.
We of course recommend the options shared above that include billing services, but another great option for mid and large sized firms includes:
LawPay: Legal-specific billing solution that manages compliance with ABA and IOLTA requirements
Each practicing lawyer is likely managing multiple cases, matters, or transactions all at once. Project management software is helpful for individuals looking to track their workload and manage their day to day tasks, as well as for groups looking to manage matters within their teams and practice group, collaborate, and easily share documents and data.
Project management software generally offers the ability to create and share task lists, see project details at a high level, assign responsibilities, share documents, and even automate workflows (like sending for review, reminders prior to deadlines, etc.). Software ranges in capability and functionalities, but largely should be helpful in helping coordinating and managing tasks for individual or group use.
Trello: Kanban style project management software
HighQ: Legal business and operations management software for document sharing and task management
Knowledge management at a law firm refers to the systematic process of capturing, organizing, storing, retrieving, and sharing the collective knowledge and information within the firm to improve efficiency, decision-making, client service, and the firm’s competitive advantage. Effective knowledge management is crucial for law firms because they deal with vast amounts of legal information, precedents, cases, and regulations.
Rather than reinventing the wheel each time a firm has a new matter or case, knowledge management technology allows attorneys to store and retrieve relevant documents and information to reuse the collective knowledge, expertise, and experience of the firm. Much of the technology shared in this article can also be used for the purposes of KM, such as document management, automation, and drafting software, but a few additional software standout in the mix:
SharePoint: Allows for the creation of practice area or matter specific sites and resources to track and manage the firm’s collective knowledge
Litera Foundation Firm Intelligence: Data platform that can pull and centralize data from disparate systems across the firm to serve as the “single source of truth”
Document automation is the process of using software to streamline and standardize the document creation, modification, and replication process.
Gavel: Our recommendation is Gavel, a highly ranked, easy to use and feature rich document automation software. With Gavel, you’re able to build complex legal documents, automate workflows and documents, and share documents through client specific portals. Its client-facing functionality sets it apart, with a clean intake process that delights law firm clients. Notably, the cloud based client portal allows customers to log in, complete client intake forms and other questionnaires, load and view legal files and interact with the legal team.
For internal use, law firms and their teams can view client data and files and complete document assembly through the platform, automating repetitive tasks and document drafting.
While easy to set up and use, if you’d like to outsource the building of forms or documents, you can have one of Gavel’s specialists do the heavy lifting.
In the transactional group of a firm, there are likely multiple deals with many moving parts at any given time. For that, it’s helpful to have transaction management software to better manage the process. Such software can relieve some of the administrative burden on associates and staff managing a transaction. TMS can also help automate some of these processes, making them more efficient, allowing attorneys to spend time on more substantive tasks or free up time to bring in more clients. Automation of such tasks can also help create standard deliverables across the firm. It can also help better collaborate with opposing counsel, as well as the numerous other third parties in a matter.
Key functionalities of transaction management software include: creation of checklists, collaborative spaces for easy status and document sharing, the ability to create signature page packets and fully executed documents, and generation of closing bibles after the close of a deal.
Our recommendations for mid and large sized firms include:
iManage Closing Folders: Transaction management software with intelligent automation and collaboration tools
Litera Transact: Transaction management software that integrates with Litera’s suite of products
As a mid or large sized firm working on complex litigation, you’re likely spending a considerable amount of time on document review during the discovery phase of a potential or impending legal proceeding. Document review (or eDiscovery software ) can help streamline, expedite, and better manage the review process by using intelligent technology to search, identify, review, and analyze electronic documents shared in the context of a litigation. eDiscoery software can also provide early case assessments, translate documents to different languages, provide real time analytics, and classify documents based on case strategy.
As it’s often overworked junior associates working on document review, it’s helpful to have software that can provide more accurate and consistent results. e-Discovery software not only reduces the time spent on document review, but can also make the process more accurate, consistent, and scalable, allowing for greater review in less time and removing areas of human error. Teams can also collaborate remotely through the software.
Here, we recommend:
Relativity: Robust eDiscovery software with complex functionality for many matter types
DISCO: Intuitive, easy to use eDiscovery software
Drafting software can help lawyers draft, edit, and manage legal documents. Drafting software, depending on its functionality, can be used to help draft a document or revise and edit a document once substantively drafted and after the document automation phase with a tool like Gavel.
It’s especially helpful to leverage the collective expertise of the members of the firm, as it often connects with document management or other knowledge management sources and uses AI technology to identify and pull language from prior documents. Drafting software can also show how certain documents have been drafted and negotiated in the past, helping to quickly identify client and market trends. Instead of having to go through the wealth of documents that you’ll likely find in a mid to large sized firm, drafting software can serve as a co-pilot, saving attorneys time in the drafting and negotiation process, standardizing outputs, and creating polished documents.
Our recommendations include:
WestLaw Drafting Assistant: Legal drafting software that assists in editing and revising document and connects with WestLaw’s document repository for convenient drafting
DraftWise: AI powered drafting and knowledge management tool to quickly find and use documents and relevant language in drafting
We hope the list shared above is helpful in providing an overview of the types of software that may help mid to large sized firms more effectively run law firms. While we’ve provided a couple of recommendations for each category, there’s no one-size-fits-all “best” option. To select a software for your firm or organization, it’s best to evaluate each tool with your specific needs in mind. Consider:
We can help you figure this out - just sign up for a demo of Gavel and learn if it suits your needs.
We’re biased, but Gavel is our winning option for many of the use cases listed above, but specifically for document automation and management. Built by and for lawyers, at Gavel, we understand your specific needs and use cases, and our aim is to make it easy to get as much of your process automated as possible. If there is logic you want embedded into your documents, we can likely do it.
User-friendly platform and features, robust functionality, and a marketplace of pre-built applications makes Gavel a great option for many organizations.
As our clients say, “This is the best software ever. I think every law firm in America should use it.“
If you’re ready to start building, get started with a free trial of Gavel today.
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