New Zealand Law Society - Practice Management Systems in New Zealand

Practice Management Systems in New Zealand

New Zealand lawyers have a number of different practice management systems to choose from. These have either been developed in New Zealand or adapted from a system used overseas. Obviously each law practice has its own needs and requirements and a decision on which system is best for a particular set of requirements can only be made by the practice concerned. The information in this Practice Briefing was gathered in December 2011 to provide a description of basic features and published in the 16 December 2011 issue of the Law Society’s LawTalk magazine. It is not an evaluation, but aims to provide a useful starting point for anyone seeking a new system or considering changing.

Source of information

Each practice system provider was asked to to provide us a short description of their system, noting its advantages. These descriptions are provided below. Providers were also asked them to list some specific features of their systems and this information is provided in the table.

Suggestions for choosing a system

Auckland law firm Hesketh Henry’s general manager, Justin Cox, has provided some pointers to help in the choice of a practice management system:

  • Ensure software you select has a large client base. Unless you are highly specialised you will need a fairly generalised legal software solution that is designed to fit in a variety of environments.
  • Nothing is forever. While selecting software that is tried and true, do also check on its future development programme.
  • Mobility is essential, so look for software that is truly mobile and provides for modern mobility (smart phones, tablets etc).
  • Look for software that can be hosted by data centres. This may not be essential today but without doubt it is coming.
  • The best way to select software is to talk to other users. They are very open with feedback and any vendor who is not prepared to allow you to talk to their clients should be avoided.

Junior Partner

Created by New Zealand lawyers for New Zealand lawyers and constantly developed in response to user suggestions for the last 20 years. Almost 1,000 lawyers and support staff use jP every day. Updates are freely available to users with a current maintenance and support contract. NZLS inspections are quick and hassle-free. NZLS Inspectors have their own login code that presents them with a menu containing all the audit reports they require. Distributed, installed, trained and supported by Thomson Reuters. Testimonials available on website.

Price: From $1,600 (for one user). New pricing model to be introduced early in 2012.

Technical requirements: Windows (any version). Also available in the cloud. Data can be imported from most other practice management systems.

Front and back office tasks: Diaries and task lists; document management; accounting; trust accounts; office accounts; debtor management; legal aid invoices; client care letters; ID validation; Client Relationship Management features integrating MS Word and Outlook undocumented fraud traps; mortgage module; email partner; electronic filing cabinet; FileCenter from Lucion for deeds; integration with Fuji Xerox’s solution builder software; integration with conveypartner to establish a paperless office.

Software compatibility: Compatible with and exports data to MS Word, MS Outlook, MS Excel, MYOB, CashManager, BestBooks, QuickBooks (in development), KeyTrack, FileCenter from Lucion Technology, FujiXerox SmartConnect – Solution Builder, PaperCut MF.

Mobile access: Mobile application and data hosting, allowing users to connect to their jP data from any computer will be available early 2012.

Technical support: Technical and software support during office hours free for maintenance and support contract holders. Office hours phone, fax and e-mail.

Installation time: Installation around 10­-15 minutes per computer.

Training time: Approximately two hours per module.

Contact and website details: Graeme Ramsay 09 445 4476. www.jpartner.co.nz, Thomson Reuters 0800 10 60 60, contacts Lee-Ann Kritos or Jan Mellor.

Action Step

A fully-integrated practice management system with a workflow DNA. ActionStep replaces the cost and complexity of in-house technology and significantly boosts productivity. The software is built on the latest technologies and maintained by the manufacturer.

Price: $60 per month per user. No minimum contract term.

Technical requirements: ActionStep is delivered via a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model so no onsite installation is required. All that is needed is an Internet connection and a browser.

Front and back office tasks: Matter files; document management and assembly; time-billing; disbursements; trust accounting; contacts; calendar; email; smart help; fee-earner budgets; matter budgets; executive dashboard; reports; bank reconciliation; integrated trust and business; accounting; general ledger; debtors; creditors; GST; budgets; financial reports; trust reports.

Software compatibility: Works on any computer (PC, Mac, iPad) provided it has an Internet connection and a browser.

Mobile access: Yes.

Technical support: 8am - 5pm weekdays. Email, screen-sharing, telephone.

Installation time: No onsite installation required. System is configured to clients’ needs ahead of go-live date. The time required for this varies from client to client but typically takes somewhere between 2-6 weeks.

Training time: Two hours group training and then two one-hour individual training sessions for each user.

Contact and website details: Ted Jordan 09 379 3939, ted@actionstep.com, www.actionstep.com

Lexis Affinity

Simple to use and improves your mid to large business by: embedding our LexisNexis content into the Affinity practice management system; systemising repetitive tasks with workflows allowing you to retire your third party software, for example convencing and trusts; easily customise any management or financial reports so you can analyse trends quickly and effortlessly; streamline existing processes and procedures into a single system for ease of use, training and learning; enable disaster recovery contingency and business continuity; capture time and accurate billing of customers.

Price: Varies per site based on number of users.

Technical requirements: Varies with the number of uses. Server details below for up to 32 concurrent users. Full operating system. Configuration requirements document are available upon request. Dedicated Oracle server; dual core 1.60 Ghz; 6 Gigabyte RAM; 2 x 146 GB; Most Windows XP 32-bit operating systems; LAN minimum 100 Mbps; dual core; Windows XP professional.

Front and back office tasks: Billing and fees; trust accounting and general ledger; time recording and management reporting; matter and document management; phonebook and database – client relationship management; reporting and financial statements; GST; calendar; to do’s, tasks and deadline; cheques, receipts and bank deposits; collection and payment plans; creditors and debtors; disbursements; conflict of interest checker; advanced marketing capabilities; safe custody register; workflow tools; research integration, precedents and document automation.

Software compatibility: MS Word 2003 (with all patches) or higher. Full Extended MAPI (provided by MS Outlook 2003 and higher).

Mobile access: Yes

Technical support: Technical phone support is available from Monday to Friday.

Installation time: Varies per site based on number of users. On average six week lead time.

Training time: Customised one-on-one or group training is available from our experienced in-house training team and our external authorised consultants. Generally one week of training is recommended.

Contact and website details: 0800 800 986, affinity@lexisnexis.co.nz, www.lexisnexis.co.nz/affinity

PCLAW

An affordable way to manage your boutique or small firm. PCLaw software is more than just a back office account and billing system, it’s an all-in-one and easy-to-use solution that enables you to increase your efficiency, cash flow and profits. A flexible tool fine-tuned for New Zealand law professionals, it is the world’s most widely used practice management software with over 30,000 small law firms.

Price:Varies per site based on number of users.

Technical requirements:Pentium II; MS Windows XP ­­– 256 MB; MS Windows Vista – 512 MB; MS Windows 7 – 512 MB, Most Windows XP 32-bit; 10 Base-T Ethernet.

Front and back office tasks:Billing and account receivables; trust accounting; time recording / management; matter and document management; client and contact management; reporting and financial statements; calendar, to do’s, tasks and deadlines; GST reporting; cheques, receipts and bank deposits; creditors and debtors; disbursements; conflict of interest checker; safe custody register.

Software compatibility:Internet Explorer 6.0 with all critical updates. Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher is required to view the help files and manual. MS Word 97 or higher is required for integration. Corel WordPerfect 10 or higher is required for integration.

Mobile access:Yes

Technical support:Technical phone support is available from Monday to Friday.

Installation time:Varies per site based on number of users. On average 2-3 days’ lead time.

Training time:Customised one-on-one or group training is available from our experienced in-house training team, and our external authorised consultants.

Contact and website details:0800 800 986, practice.management@lexisnexis.co.nz, www.lexisnexis.co.nz/pclaw

Legal E

Legal-E spends time assessing a clients’ business process and systems before installing or converting to legal office software. Legal-E team clients have been hands-on in product development. Quick response time to client enquiries. Tailored solutions. An easy-to-use interface. Easy data entry and fast information retrieval so time can be spent working for clients rather than navigating systems. Streamlined processing means data is entered only once and managed within the system, with a full audit and accountability trail. Legal-E is at the beginning of its lifecycle.

Price: $1,800 per user

Technical requirements: Microsoft Windows 2000, SBS2003, XP, Vista, SBS2008, Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit). Linux. All fairly recent Linux distributions with gilbc 2.3.

Front and back office tasks: Trust accounting; debtor management; mortgage management; general ledger and creditors; document management; performance management; address and phone record sharing; automatic payment; processing; online billing and bill production; bank reconciliations; GST; tax management; certificates and reporting; mortgagor and mortgagee precedents; profit and loss statements.

Software compatibility: ODBC compliant database allows direct connections to third party program that supports ODBC, for example, MS Office, Open Office.

Mobile access: iPad and Android hand-held app in development.

Technical support: 24/7 helpline.

Installation time: Client specific.

Training time: Client specific.

Contact and website details: Stephen Hart 06 378 8437, steve@legal-e.co.nz, www.legal-e.co.nz

Infinitylaw

Authors have strong time recovery through the author dashboard and rapid access to information to minimise lost time. Good billing. Partners receive efficient accounting in the trust and firm ledgers, retain star staff through providing good working tools. Maintains good client service and client relationship management. Risk is minimised through task management. Grow fees and market base through marketing tools. It has high time recovery and good cash collection. Easily operated trust ledger and effective cash management.

Price: Detailed indicative cost including installation, training, and ongoing support provided on request.

Technical requirements: MS Windows and SQL Server. Full details available on request. Can be run in the cloud or on your own network.

Front and back office tasks: Name directory; client profile; time recording – desktop and iPhone; online billing; automatic to do list and task management; client, matter and deed information; document management; precedents and document assembly; telephone system with caller recognition; workflow management; client relationship management; extranet for client internet access; trust accounting; debtor management; precedent management; client trust management; mortgage ledger; practice accounting.

Software compatibility: Works on any computer (PC, Mac, iPad) provided it has an Internet connection and a browser.

Mobile access: Mobile time recording on iPhone.

Technical support: Business hours on business days.

Installation time: Dependant on customer needs.

Training time: Dependant on customer needs.

Contact and website details: sandi.coppins@nz.fujitsu.com, www.fujitsu.com/nz

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