Hosted vs. Web-Based Legal Practice Management Software
The fast-paced technological transformation is changing how companies and organizations across multiple industries undertake their operations. And the legal sector is no exception. Law firms are migrating from the traditional pen and paper documentation to legal practice management software to complete processes such as invoicing, case files management, research, automation of mundane tasks, and more.
Today, there are many legal practice management software tools that are broadly categorized as cloud-hosted and web-based. Telling them apart can be quite confusing, and most law firms find it challenging to choose which type of management software to go for. However, that’s bound to change today as we demystify everything in the guide below.
- The definition of hosted legal practice management software
- The pros and cons of hosted management software
- The definition of web-based legal practice management software
- The pros and cons of web-based management software
- What to consider when choosing the best legal practice management software
So let’s get down to business!
What is a Hosted Legal Practice Management Software?
A hosted legal practice management software is the one that lets you manage your functions from virtually anywhere since it doesn’t require an on-premise server. In other words, all your existing legal software, files, documents, and folders get stored in a private cloud (a server hosted and managed by an outsourced provider) instead of you storing it on an on-premise computer.
This means that you can access your law firm’s practice management software anywhere – at home, in the office, or remotely, provided you have a valid username and password. The best part is that the provider takes care of all the maintenance, management, security, and backup for you. That’s a great relief for law firms, bearing in mind that the cost of owning and maintaining an in-house server is exorbitant.
- Inexpensive. Cloud-based software is usually available on a regular subscription-based basis, making the payment model predictable and affordable. What’s more, it is the provider’s responsibility to optimize security, maintenance, and troubleshooting, lowering the costs further.
- Feature-packed. The practice management software comes with a wide array of the most up-to-date features and functionalities that ease law firm staff’s work. Plus, most of the features have no limitations and are accessible based on your subscription plan.
- Numerous options. Since the legal industry is broad and consists of different categories and processes, hosted practice management software is equally diversified to accommodate varying needs. Some are for specific practice areas like personal injury, corporate, family, criminal laws, etc. Others take care of specific functions such as billing, client management, accounting, and more.
- Entire law practice in the cloud. The best cloud-based service hosts not only one management software application but your entire practice. It includes storage services for files, documents, emails, folders, etc.
- Internet connection dependency. Your law firm must have a reliable network connection to enjoy the full benefits. In case of downtime, you may not be able to retrieve essential case files, considering that time may be of the essence.
- Not all clouds are equal. The number and kinds of features accessible depend on your specific vendor. Given the complex nature of legal practice management, some providers may not have adequate expertise or features to meet your cloud hosting needs.
What is a Web-Based Legal Practice Management Software?
Simply put, this is a legal practice management software that’s accessible via web browsers like Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Here, you don’t have to worry about installing, downloading, or upgrading anything. The software publisher’s responsibility is to provide periodic updates and new features that you don’t need to install either.
The provider does all the processing and storage on their remote server that law firms connect to over the internet using a browser. Running a web-based legal practice management software requires technical skills and can be costly initially, but it’s a cost-effective investment in the long-run. What’s more, it provides excellent flexibility in terms of customization and configuration capabilities.
- Ease of access. Accessing your data via web-based legal practice management software is a no-brainer and can be done on any device as you don’t need to install new programs.
- Cost-effective. Most managed web-based software barely cost more than $100 per month, making them ideal legal practice management solutions for firms operating under a limited budget.
- Quick to get started. The fact that it’s web-based makes the software extremely easy to operate. So long as you have an internet connection and a web browser, all you have to do is sign up on any device, and off you go.
- No internet, no access. You can’t access essential or urgent legal functions or files if you don’t have an internet connection, much less an unreliable one.
- Risky when accessed remotely. When your law firm staff is working off-premise and accesses critical files, documents, or services on the web-based software, they risk leaking private information to cyber threat actors, which can be too costly.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Legal Practice Management Software
As we hinted earlier, there are tons of legal practice management software in the market, and choosing the best solution can be challenging. Here are a few factors to consider before putting your bucks in a practice management software:
If you prefer a cloud-hosted solution, go for a company/provider that offers exclusively cloud-based services. Likewise, if you want a web-based solution, aim to collaborate with a vendor specializing in that particular category. A company that mixes the two might offer compromised quality and have a conflict of interest.
Commitment to the Legal Sector
Legal practice management is a complex market segment that requires a host that truly understands and has all the expertise to serve the sector. If the provider under review categorizes legal as one of the numerous sectors they serve, we suggest you keep searching.
Is the software under consideration compatible with the firm’s technology? Ensure that the software is capable of working across multiple operating systems (most cloud-based solutions can). This is important because non-compatibility may pose a significant challenge to staff members who work out of the office or across different offices.
Ethical Compliance and Security Optimization
Law firms operate under stringent legislations, and non-compliance may lead to dire consequences like fines, penalties, or license revocation. Ensure that your vendor adheres to such standards as the duty to protect client information.
Legal Practice Management Software: Conclusion
Hopefully, this comprehensive guide helped you understand the difference between hosted and web-based legal practice management software, plus their pros and cons. Remember, when looking for a reliable provider, you want to confirm that legal services are their primary focus. They must also provide easy-to-use/access, compatible, compliant, and secure practice management software.
Here at Rekall Technologies, we specialize in providing top-class IT services and support to law firms across the US. We also take pride in helping law firms move all their software and services to the cloud. Contact us today for the best legal practice management solution.
I’ve been working with law firms for many years simplifying their technologies while offering them the very best services & support. The model that I have created is based on the reality that IT sucks, and frankly, no one likes it. My experience tells me that this is especially true for law firms. In coming to that realization years ago I had to change the way I did business. Among many other services that we had to offer, in order to cater to law firms specifically, we had to become invisible and that’s exactly what we have accomplished.