Opening my own firm is one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my career. This year marked my fifth anniversary. While I learned a lot about how to run a law firm in my 11 years at a previous firm, I also learned how not to run a law firm.
The Right Tools
Having the right tools is the key to efficiency, productivity, and cost control. One critical decision I made five years ago was to choose the software platform that would run my business. I remember writing a list of needed functions like time and billing, accounting, and document management. I also made a “wish list” of what I thought were pie-in-the-sky, unrealistic features like centralized case management, calendar management, contacts management, and yes, a powerful feature that could organize, manage, and centralize the massive amount of e-mail that would flow in and out of my new firm.
I reviewed many products. None fit my needs and my expectations like AbacusLaw. Today, it is the nucleus of my law firm’s operation. From time and billing, to communication management and robust reporting, AbacusLaw is my comprehensive law practice management solution.
Abacus Law 2015 Feature Improvements
The newest features of AbacusLaw2015 make me even more efficient and save me money. The new look and feel of AbacusLaw 2015 brings me business, too. Redesigned icons and fresh window layouts give AbacusLaw a very modern, clean feel. I recently “shared my screen” with a client so they could see how I manage their cases and they were thoroughly impressed with how “tech savvy” and organized AbacusLaw made me look. Now they feel even more comfortable sending business my way. I especially like the new calendar layout (it looks like Outlook) and its integration with Outlook.
Some of the best features of AbacusLaw include what I call “communication management” and Microsoft Office integration. AbacusLaw keeps track of all inbound and outbound law firm communication—phone calls, e-mail, and written correspondence. The Call Manager logs every phone call. It keeps track of the person with whom I spoke, the case to which the call is related, the date and time of the call, direction (inbound/outbound), and duration of the call. Best of all, AbacusLaw reminds me to bill the call after I hang up.
Managing e-mail is critical to a modern law practice. More than 90% of the written communication to and from my firm occurs by e-mail. I love the AbacusLaw plug-in to Microsoft Outlook. Now, every e-mail related to a person in my contacts database or related to a case is easily and quickly stored by AbacusLaw in its centralized e-mail tab for each case and contact in our office. Say goodbye to that labyrinth of Outlook folders and sub-folders containing stored e-mail. AbacusLaw makes it easy to see all e-mail communication on a case, no matter who in my office sent or received it. We can also keyword search e-mail to find that proverbial needle in the e-mail haystack. The plug-in also lets us bill for inbound and outbound e-mail right from Outlook.
Microsoft Word Integration
Next on my list of favorite features is the integration between AbacusLaw 2015 and Microsoft Word. AbacusLaw places a new button on my Word command ribbon which allows me to easily save a document to my network and simultaneously insert that document into the AbacusLaw document management system that associates the document with a case, a client, or both. Seamless integration saves us time and money each time we create a document.
Customer Service With a Human Touch
Lawyers and clients ask me what I like most about AbacusLaw. Believe it or not, the software is not what I like most—it’s the people at AbacusLaw I like the most. When I call AbacusLaw, a human answers the phone. The human speaks my language, recognizes I am a technological neophyte, and understands my business. I have never had a problem that AbacusLaw support could not fix the first time I called, without waiting on hold and without explaining my issue to five different layers of “escalated” support specialists. Two months ago I actually received a call from an AbacusLaw support technician just to ask me if there was anything he could do for me. What company does that?
Remember when we had no smartphones to make our lives easier? That is how I feel when I think about how I practiced law five years ago without law practice management software.
I no longer worry about my time and billing software not “talking to” my financial accounting software, or asking the office administrator to find a missing or unpaid client invoice. I no longer struggle to find that document I know I sent to the client or opposing counsel six months ago. I do not have to enter the same client and case information into multiple separate software programs i.e. Outlook, general ledger and trust accounting software, time and billing software. Five years ago I took my law practice to the “next level.” Ever since, I’ve been trimming costs and increasing efficiency. This is why I use AbacusLaw 2015.