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Top Ten Reasons We Hate Case Management Software

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Legal industry software has come a long way over the past few years. Case management software used to require a local server and make remote or mobile access virtually impossible. Despite improvements in user interface, accessibility, and customization, case management software is still considered largely a necessary evil by most law firms. 

Successful client matter management depends on formalized workflows, good quality people, agreed-upon documents, secure and consistent data, and more. Technology has finally advanced to the point where law firms cannot be won over as easily by novelty case management software solutions. Smart businesspeople know that the right case management software will have an enormous impact on law firm efficiency and work product quality.

The Top Ten Reasons Lawyers Hate Case Management Software:

It’s clunky and ugly

Many of the more prevalently used progams have old, ugly, and outdated user interfaces. With the advent of streamlined and user-friendly technology, software that doesn't take advantage of inutitive design elements seems antiquated.

No one solution really has everything we are looking for

There are many solutions in the legal marketplace, but each program has its limitations. Some programs allow for complete customization. Some programs interface with a firm's accounting software. Some programs allow different firms that work on matters jointly to transfer information back and forth easily. Be sure to get a comprehensive list of wants and needs together before you do your case management software shopping so that you can compare it with the features offered by each program.

Difficult or impossible remote/mobile access

Some of the most-trusted legal software programs run solely as server-based applications that require a VPN, run extremely slowly when accessed remotely, and have intermittent access issues. Although industry demands are changing it, mobile device access to several applications is either extremely limited or non-existent.

Does not include real document management

Law firm document management software is by far the most read blog post on my website. This topic is also one that I get calls and emails about on a weekly basis. Law firms handle a lot of data - some electronic and some not. In order to manage a caseload efficiently and effectively, all case data must be accessible in an organized, searchable, and consistent manner. Not all case management software includes true document management functionality. Some programs interface with external document management software like the ubiquitous Worldox.

No custom fields or tabs allowed

While newer generations of law firm software may look cool and are often more affordable, in exchange for cheap and sexy you usually forego the ability to customize. No out-of-the-box solution will have every single field, tab, or data collection point that your law firm needs, and many will have fields you want to remove. Customization is crucial to attaining as close to perfection as possible in the case management realm.

Certain features can only be adjusted by the software company (for a fee of course)

You might have heard your software vendor tell you, "yes your software can do that, but only if you pay us extra for it." It is better to find out before you purchase which functions you will be able to handle yourself and which will require paying the vendor. Some companies won’t show you how to really use the backend of their program or allow you access to the programming side at all so that you remain dependent upon them and continue to rely on the company, netting them ongoing financial gain.

After our initial investment, the company stops trying to help us succeed

After the sale is closed, many software companies disappear - some don't even offer onboarding or initial training to new customers. How is a technologically challenged law firm in search of a program to help them get more organized supposed to figure out not only how to use a new piece of software, but also how to use it correctly?

It won’t work with a Mac

More and more of us lawyers love to use Apple products (me included). If your law office is all Mac or even a hybrid of Mac and PC, you need your software to run on various types of operating systems and hardware. When case management software will only run in on a Mac in parallel, it is impractical and turns us off.

It’s too expensive

The initial investment required to commence use of any decent law firm software can be steep. The questions will race through your mind - will I use this enough to justify this absurd cost - is it really worth this much money - can't I just keep using Outlook as my sole source of client management???

We buy it and don’t use it

The biggest point of contention between law firms and their software is not a willingness to spring for the cost; it is actually using the program once purchased. Dear lawyers: stop drinking the haterade. Organization is your friend. Case management software can save you from yourself in areas including conflicts checking, customer relationship management, document form automation, and more. You must continue to learn about your programs. I tell the lawyers I work with that "training is forever," meaning that your law firm has to keep training its staff on a regular basis and maintain quality control of your database dutifully throughout the year.

The Case Management Software People Talk About

Old Faithful (solutions on the market for 20 years or more)

New and/or Outlier

Custom Solutions

  • Law firms think they can do it better themselves and build their own systems, largely in Access. In my experience, this does not end well.

Why Software Matters To Your Law Firm

Today’s law firm must be agile, as potential business appears quickly but can also leave just as quickly if the firm is not ready for it. Modern law firms have to do more and better work with fewer resources, both in number of staff and in time spent on matters. Streamlining your legal practice with the right case management software is good for all levels of staff expertise, and has become crucial in today’s competitive digital landscape.

Additional Reading 

American Bar Association Practice/Case Management Software Comparison Chart for Solo/Small Firm

Sidebar stacey e burke About Stacey Burke

Stacey E. Burke is both an experienced trial lawyer and law firm business consultant. She works with lawyers and law firms around the world to improve their business development, marketing, and infrastructures.


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