Six things to consider when buying legal software


As a leading supplier of legal accounts and practice management software in the UK, our Executive Chairman Julian Bryan advises on the primary considerations during the software procurement process. Julian’s knowledgeable insights ensure a smooth transition, a good fit for your firm and long-term success. Read on to discover how following these six steps can help your software purchasing to deliver efficiencies, growth and compliance at your legal practice.

Your software significantly affects your short- and long-term performance and profitability. It’s the difference between success and failure. With so much hinging on it, we recommend you focus on these six primary considerations during the buying process:

1. Accessibility

Post-Covid hybrid working is standard. Your staff should have the ability to access your systems from anywhere, at any time, on any device. The opportunity to perform case actions and log chargeable time must be ever present.

Software that can facilitate this by sitting in the cloud and being accessible through internet log-in is therefore a must. The addition of a smartphone app is a nice touch as it further simplifies the use of multiple devices.

2. Security

The cloud has its sceptics, primarily for reasons relating to security. You possess sensitive data, confidential documents and valuable client monies. These must be safeguarded always.

Check out your preferred supplier’s security credentials and your favoured software’s security controls – ISO certifications, Cyber Essentials accreditation, encryption protocols, user permissions, server and backup measures, BCDR plans, password protection with multi-factor authentication among them.

3. Cost and scalability

Consider what you need from your software on day one and what you might need in the future. You only want to pay for what you use. There’s nothing worse than paying for an over-engineered system with functionality that you hardly touch.

Look out for a system that can grow with your own firm’s expansion into new areas of law. Being able to switch on and only pay for new modules as you need them is key.

4. Exit plan and exportability

Having an exit strategy is a prerequisite to signing and sealing your contract. Not only do you need to ascertain the minimum contract term and notice period, but you need to ensure you can easily get your data back in a suitable format and your old supplier subsequently permanently deletes that data.

In GDPR terms, your software provider is your ‘data processor’ but you remain the ‘data controller’. This means that you have significant responsibilities for the ongoing control of your data – your financial records, your client details, correspondence and associated documents. Make sure you understand the exit process and any reasonable service costs for obtaining your data on exit.

5. Integration and modularity

As your base layer, choose software that natively contains practice management and legal accounting tools. These are the bedrocks upon which your business is built. You could get terribly confused if you have client and office transactions in separate systems, leading to a real chance of financial error and possible breach.

From this substratum, add any modular boosts or third-party specialist systems for particular functions as needed. Tight API integration with these modules saves time, prevents duplication and maintains data integrity.

6. Supplier culture

Not strictly software related, but no less important, are the culture, ethics and heritage of the company supplying the software. Is there a good match with your own? With commonalities, there’s a greater chance of forging long-lasting relationships, human being to human being, with integrity and honesty at the core.

You never know at the outset just how much you’ll be in contact with your supplier once implementation is complete. When these contact points happen, you want a pleasant experience with a mutually satisfactory resolution to any issues raised. Make sure you can talk to a person when you need to. It makes sense to meet the key staff and make it your mission to get to know them before you commit.

Further reading

Our ‘Six things to consider when buying legal software’ article was featured first in the ‘Law Society Gazette’ on 9th September 2022. Further software buying tips are available in our ‘Legal Practice Management Software Buyer’s Guide’ giving you the tools to navigate the minefield of choosing the right provider and best software for your business. Download our ‘Buyer’s Guide’ here.

Quill's buyer's guide for legal practice management software