September 15, 2010
Post by Jared Correia. Jared is the law practice management advisor with the Massachusetts Law Officer Management Assistance Program, providing free and confidential law practice management consulting to Massachusetts attorneys. True to certain veiled promises, he makes his thoughts on law practice management available generally online, most notably through the LOMAP Blog and his Twitter account.
As a law practice advisor for Massachusetts’ Law Office Management Assistance Program, I am afforded a ringside seat for the viewing of trends in the legal field, through, what has become, my informal, detached study of modern lawyers’ habits. One of the trends that I have noticed, over the time that I have spent in my current capacity, is that most of the attorneys with whom I consult are desirous of finding appropriate new technologies, that can: (1) unlock previously undiscovered efficiencies within their practice; and, (2) save them money. Given these qualifying motivations, it is, perhaps, unsurprising that many of the attorneys with whom I meet are ready, and most willing, to begin to incorporate SaaS solutions into their practices, to the extent that they have not already done so.
SaaS systems essentially (and, I won’t belabor this point, because if you’re a regular reader of LawRD’s “Your Law Firm in Progress” blog, you likely already know what SaaS systems are, and what they do) move the traditional software program from residence on your computer/system to residence on the web, accessible through a secure portal by you (and invited collaborators), following a set of security checkdowns. SaaS systems, especially SaaS systems with practice management features, like the LawRD: Reports on Demand program, answer for the above-referenced requirements respecting efficiency and cost. Online practice management systems are, in my experience, more accessible, easier to learn, more intuitive to use and faster in operation than those systems that continue to reside on your own computer systems. Given that certain systems, like LawRD’s, offer practice management components, for the better leveraging of client matter and contact management and for time and billing (among a number of useful features), the efficiency upgrade will be obvious in terms of adding a practice management system where, perhaps, none existed before; and, generally, the ease of use/intuitiveness, and speed additional to such programs, means that you’ll be working faster, and more efficiently, not harder. Of course, one of the obvious reasons for the speed advance achieved with the use of SaaS systems is the fact that such programs are removed from your own computer system, and are not competing directly for space, memory and processing speed with the other applications that you have already downloaded to your machine; this also means that you’ve got fewer costs related to desktop/system support moving forward, and that the remainder of your traditional software systems will work faster, as well (competition having been removed), making you more efficient, saving you more money. The cost savings of a move to SaaS are also inherent in the pricing models of most of these systems versus the pricing models of traditional software programs. Generally, with traditional software systems, you’re paying a significant initial rate, plus for program updates, usually each year. With an SaaS system, you’re paying a fairly reasonable monthly rate (rather than a significant up-front cost), with updates taking place automatically, and behind the scenes, and without additional charge. The cost savings can become large-scale, depending upon the SaaS system you select, and depending upon the size (in terms of accessing employees) and needs of your firm; and, the additional efficiencies achieved through the immediate application of important updates and upgrades, without your spending any time to apply same, can also become significant.
If you want to learn more about SaaS, check out the “The Use of SaaS in the Legal Field” episode of my podcast. With respect to the vetting of SaaS providers, and some of the security questions related to the utilization, by lawyers, of SaaS systems, look over my blog post respecting a North Carolina Bar Association proposed ethics opinion that attempts to provide some clarification in that space. And, of course, you should continue to follow LawRD’s “Your Law Firm in Progress” blog, for product-related updates, and information relative to SaaS.
When deciding on the purchase of SaaS products in the legal space, you might consider LawRD’s flagship “Reports on Demand” program; you should also consider, as well, (LawRD parent company) muchBeta’s other useful SaaS product offerings: Teepin and Yoomit.