At one time, Amicus Attorney was the premier program for law office case management. In version 5, it had a quirky but easy to understand interface, and a lot of power to link information together and present a unified view of a case – contacts, calendar, time sheets, and phone records.

The world marches on and law offices began to demand features that Amicus wasn’t ready to offer. Amicus 5 has almost no document management features; its integration with Microsoft Outlook is terribly broken; it has a rudimentary ability to sync with Palm-based handhelds and nothing for Windows Mobile; it’s difficult to install under Terminal Services for remote users, and its non-standard display mucks up Windows Remote Desktop; there’s no web access; it’s built on old database technology. It’s robust and solid as long as a law firm doesn’t expect more from it than it delivered when it was introduced in 2001, almost six years ago.

Gavel & Gown, the parent company, rewrote Amicus from scratch to address some of those shortcomings, and released Amicus Attorney X in 2004. It was a disaster, a bug-ridden mess that was eventually – embarrassingly – withdrawn from the market. The company went back to the drawing board and started from scratch.

Amicus Attorney 7 was released early in 2006, based on an industry-standard SQL database structure and with a feature list that answered just about every request.

Sadly, it was a disaster, a bug-ridden mess.

So far six patches and two service packs have been released in an attempt to make it usable. This comment last week on the Amicus forums is a fair representation of the flavor of the last nine months of feedback:

“For the user who is still using Amicus Attorney 5 – I envy you! I would be so happy to go back. Amicus Attorney 7 (upgrade) has been devastating to my business (and life!). Horrible horrible horrible!”

It’s sad to discover that a couple of months ago Gavel & Gown was forced to repackage its aging version 5 and put it back on sale as “Amicus Small Firm.”

It’s a shame – I go back a long way with Amicus, but this looks like a company in a death spiral.

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