10 Key Questions to Ask Cloud-Based Legaltech Providers
Is your law firm considering a cloud-based legal practice management system? Or maybe you’re ready to replace an on-prem system that’s just not working for you anymore? Whether you’re a small firm just getting started or an established firm looking to switch to the cloud, it’s important to get some clarity on what kind of system will best fit your needs. To help you begin your search, we have outlined 10 key questions to ask cloud-based legaltech providers.
1. Can I Customize the System to Suit My Firm?
Every firm has its own ways of working and a certain amount of mandated practice, regulatory or court-related processes. Ideally, the cloud-based system you choose will allow for customization and process modification to suit the needs of your firm and areas of practice.
You will notice that many cloud-based legal systems aimed at solo and small firms tend to have limited customization capabilities. If you are migrating from another system that has been customized over the years, you will need a cloud-based system that accommodates these customizations and can migrate your firm across to the new system without loss of data. Make sure that the custom fields map from your old system to your new one through custom data collections.
With this in mind, you should look at cloud systems that provide a high level of customization for complex or unique processes, or that work for larger firms with multiple practices.
2. Can the System Automate My Work and Administrative Processes?
Process automation is the key to creating efficiency at your firm. Look for cloud-based providers that have a mix of built-in and customized workflows to underpin automation.
Many legaltech providers talk about workflow, so it’s important to understand what this means when it comes to their system. Workflow defines the steps, tasks and timing of any process to automate how things are done at your firm. When workflows are set up to your specification, you can collect information, assign tasks, track progress, get updates, update clients automatically and make sure everything is done and checked off before moving to the next step. Beware of providers that simply label set system process “workflows” and always ask them to explain what they mean by workflow.
3. Does the System Have Equivalent Features?
Every law firm has favorite features or tools they can’t live without or don’t want to lose when migrating to the cloud. And why should you have to? Some cloud systems have very limited features, so always identify your must-have features and only consider cloud systems with equivalent features.
Before you start reaching out to providers, make a list of the features that are most important to everyone in your firm. Do you need an integrated email platform? The ability to view strategic information and run reports? With this list complete, you’ll be prepared to discuss your needs with legaltech providers.
4. Does the System Integrate with Office 365?
Microsoft uses a newer and different technology for integrating applications to Office 365. If you want a seamless integration between your legal practice management system and Microsoft Office then you need to select a provider that has a true “cloud-to-cloud” integration with Office 365.
5. Does the System Include Advanced Document Automation?
Repeat entry and copy/paste processes are a thing of the past – they waste time and carry significant error risks. Look for cloud systems with robust document automation capability. This will allow you to bring client and matter information into precedents, forms, and other templates. Ask providers if you can merge an unlimited number of custom data fields. How do they handle pronouns? Do they also have constructs like repeat blocks (to dynamically create tables), and conditional logic to allow you to selectively substitute text and clauses in your documents?
6. How Will the Provider Convert My Data into the New System?
Ideally, look for a cloud-based practice management system that has a purpose-built conversion tool. This tool will automatically transfer your current data into the new system. Without this, you may be in for a long and expensive manual migration with the risk of human error and data loss.
7. Does the System Have the Option to Include General Ledger Accounting?
If you’re going through all the trouble to change legal practice management systems, it’s a really good time to also update your accounting system. If the legaltech provider has a general ledger accounting module, this will give you one system for your practice management, billing, and accounting. No need for something like PC Law. Alternatively, look for cloud-to-cloud integrations with accounting products built to integrate with multiple providers.
8. Can I Download My Data and Documents Whenever I Want?
When your firm moves to the cloud, your data and documents are no longer stored on your local server. Choose a cloud legaltech provider that allows you to download a full backup of all your data and documents whenever you want. Other than simple peace of mind, this flexibility also allows you to move to a new software provider easily in the future if you wish.
9. Can I Download My Data to Use in Other Reporting Tools?
Look for cloud providers that allow you to periodically download a local copy of your data for custom reporting, dashboards and data visualization using tools like Microsoft Power BI.
10. Most Importantly: Does My Team Like Using It?
Once you are happy that you have found the cloud-based providers most suited to your firm, the best assessment of any system comes from trying it out. You can see how your data would look and how the system works. Ask the cloud providers you are considering for a demo or a free trial. See if you like using it and if you can imagine using it every day. And remember – if the system is truly in the cloud, they should be able to give you access without installing any software and simply by logging in through a browser of your choice!
Ready to Learn More?
Moving your law firm to the cloud is a big decision with lots of factors to consider beyond these 10 initial questions. If you’d like to learn how Actionstep can help make the switch as easy as possible, get in touch with our team.Book a demo today.
Written by The Actionstep Team
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