Attorneys are working from home and using notebooks on the road. They’re buying iPads for the briefcase and carrying iPhones and Android phones everywhere. They already expect access to their mail and calendar on all of those devices, all the time. Increasingly, they want access to their files everywhere. And the next step is easy to predict: attorneys will demand access to their case management information on whatever device is closest to hand – not just their office computer – and they won’t tolerate any confusion or fuss.
Case management programs are moving to the cloud. It has to happen. It’s the only way to answer those demands.
A few months ago I saw a demo of Advologix and learned about the existence of Rocket Matter and Clio, three new law office management platforms running from the cloud. Your data is served up at full speed in highly-customized screens in a web browser. No servers are required onsite; all maintenance and backup is done by the online provider.
- Traditional programs require expensive up-front costs for licenses and hardware, and continuing costs for maintenance contracts, technical support and backup.
- The online cloud services require expensive monthly subscription fees but much less in ongoing maintenance costs.
Tonight I stumbled on a new cloud service for small law offices coming from LexisNexis. Next month, “LexisNexis Firm Manager” will be announced, providing similar law office case management features. There have literally been only a handful of mentions online so far. The screen shot below comes from this article on PracticeHacker, which briefly outlines some of the features.
LexisNexis Firm Manager is not going to be available very soon – it is only now heading into beta testing, which means there is a lot of development to be done and a lot of questions to be answered before it can be fairly evaluated. (There will also be an open question in my mind about whether LexisNexis can really be trusted to commit to it, given its unfortunate history with Time Matters and its other law office programs in the last few years, but we don’t need to go there yet.)
Undoubtedly, though, entry of LexisNexis into the field of cloud services for lawyers will legitimize the entire concept for many lawyers who have misgivings about it. LexisNexis will vigorously defend the security of its system in ways that will equally validate the competitors. There are likely to be other products in development that will share the same cloud architecture, making it look inevitable and safe.
My guess is that Abacus/Amicus/Time Matters and the rest will be looking very old and tired within another year or two – still existing, still supported, but looking more and more like relics of the dusty past.