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How firms should decide which practice management software to use

For law firms, choosing the right practice management software can be confusing, but this pair said there are an “array of solutions” in the market right now.

user iconLauren Croft 17 May 2023 Big Law
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Adam Bullion is the general manager of marketing, and Anthony Bryce is the sales lead for Australia and New Zealand at legal practice management platform PracticeEvolve.

Speaking on a recent episode of LawTech Talks, in partnership with PracticeEvolve, the pair discussed practice management systems — and how law firms can make the right choices for their workplaces in an ever-changing market.

This is a particularly important and relevant decision with the uptake of legal tech in recent years — something which Mr Bullion said was confirmed in PracticeEvolve research late last year, which outlined the top challenges and priorities in the legal market.


“I’ll take the top four challenges that law firms identified there. And they are, first of all, productivity and ultimately delivering efficiencies. Secondly, integrated software that works to reduce human error and contributes towards that productivity. And thirdly, providing the end client, so our client’s client with a better experience throughout a matter or a case. And the last one, there is actually the retention of key staff. Now, I think what you’d identify there is that those points are actually quite interdependent on each other,” he explained.

“So, for example, integrating software that delivers a better client experience, the technology should ultimately make the user more productive because the software does more of that administrative work for them. And what we know from using technology in our everyday lives is if you can provide software that works, that’s effective and makes for a better work/life balance, the user is definitely happier. So, why shouldn’t that be true of business-to-business software as well?”

“Software as a service” is a prominent term in the marketplace right now, but according to Mr Bullion, “software with a service” is more relevant.

“We provide the software; it has to be robust, has to be stable, it has to be reliable, but there are probably three pillars that sit and underpin that actual software. And they are, first of all, cloud, so cloud technology. So, how can we help firms offer more flexibility to their users, and help make sure that their users are more satisfied and more productive? Secondly, connectivity. So, connecting the best-in-class software and reducing the need to re-key information all the time,” he added.

“But similarly, connecting users and users with their own clients through client portals, such as our Communicate app. And thirdly, competency. We’re very focused on ensuring users are so much more knowledgeable in the software that they’re using because we know from the research, again, that if we can empower the user to use the software, they will be more motivated to deliver.”

In the face of those aforementioned challenges, law firms’ software selection process needs to be a diligent one, Mr Bryce outlined.

“Ultimately, you want a product that can provide clarity on what it provides for you. And it’s really important that product actually gives you that clarity. And look, some law firms actually go in different ways. Some of them look to an employer, consultant to review the different software available and present that solution that best suits their needs. However, well, many law firms do this on their own and they find that time to do that. And, there’s nothing wrong with either approach,” he explained.

“The reality is that the firm needs to decide based on the information they are provided to see that your provider will be a partner for you and your future. So, if I looked at an overarching [topic], I think the first step when you’re looking at this is to formulate a team of people who use the software and gather their requirements.

“For any provider, they need to know the challenge that they’re trying to address. If you have a legal accounting challenge, it would go without saying, you’d want to have representation from that side of the business along the way. Then looking at doing internal discovery, what’s holding you back to create a better client and user experience in your current situation?”

It’s also important for firms to remember that “no software has a silver bullet”, and Mr Bryce recommended reaching out to multiple service providers when doing research on which software would benefit them the most.

“There’s an array of solutions out there, and the number of viable opportunities, cloud is one of them, and its imperative providers can offer solutions that are stable, now they’re consistent, they’re efficient, and they’re ready for the future. Now you’ve got that, now it’s about shortlisting. And now it’s time to get down to those specifics, and looking what we look at and come from that point of view, looking at the day-to-day aspects of your firm and how your future provider works within your law firm,” he explained.

“This is where you can ask, are you getting a piece of software or, as we’ve mentioned before, a software with a service? I suppose my advice [is to] get that consultant or drive the process internally, put that right team together, do a discovery internally, go to the market and shortlist providers, but then that decision process. And it’s finding a fit for purpose now, but more importantly, what does it look like in the future for you?”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Adam Bullion and Anthony Bryce, click below:

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