Last month, I wrote about Litigation Fact Management software, which helps teams coordinate work done throughout the process by making it easier to collaborate on case-related evidence and documents.
As I explained in this article, the reason why such software is needed is that litigators who work with boutique firm teams or practice group teams in larger firms need software with very distinct functionalities and integrated tools.
By comparison, lawyers who work in many individual, small, and even some medium-sized firms deal with many different types of law. For these firms, law firm management software is often better suited because it is designed to provide broader functionality and thus meets the needs of firms with lawyers who handle a variety of case types.
However, when lawyers focus on a single practice area, they often need case management software specific to a practice area. This is because when lawyers deal with a single practice area, they typically require unique software features and functionality that are frequently determined by court-imposed deadlines and forms. These court-specific rules necessarily affect the workflows and processes of a law firm or practice group, resulting in a desire for software that meets these particular needs.
Regular readers may know that I tend to focus on cloud-based software in this topic as it is a more modern and affordable alternative to outdated and often unsupported on-premise solutions. . Notably, due to an increase in demand, the number of cloud-based practice area-specific software tools has increased significantly in recent years.
Specifically, there have been many new entrants to the market for the following types of legal practices: personal injury, immigration, bankruptcy, and intellectual property. For this reason, I plan to intersperse my columns throughout the year with information about these practice area-specific software offerings in addition to covering other types of legal software.
I’ll start this series by focusing on case management software for bankruptcy lawyers. This has been a booming legal software category for a number of years, and there are now a few products available that cater for this area of practice.
Bankruptcy practices are consistent across all jurisdictions, as cases filed in federal bankruptcy courts have legally prescribed forms, procedural mechanisms, and completion times. For this reason, this type of software usually includes features designed to streamline the process of preparing and filing the petition. Commonly used bankruptcy forms are often included, and the built-in e-filing tools are a bonus provided by many platforms.
Another advantage of using this type of software is the bankruptcy monitoring and reporting tools. Finally, the desirable additional features typically included in this type of software are calendar and recording features, as well as lead generation and management tools.
Let’s take a look at some of the cloud-based products available to lawyers handling bankruptcy cases. Note that this list is not exhaustive, but is a selection of the most popular software available.
But before we dive into the tools available, it’s important to note that the software described below is cloud-based; thus, all data will be hosted on servers owned by a third party. As I have explained in the past, whenever you entrust your law firm’s data to a third party, you have an ethical obligation to carefully control the technology provider who will host and store your data.
This obligation includes ensuring that you understand how the data will be handled by this company; where are the servers on which the data will be stored; who will have access to the data; and how and when it will be backed up, among other things.
What is available?
First there is Jubilee through LegalPRO, which was released in 2016. Some of the more traditional case management features, such as document storage and calendar, are included in the base price of this software. The entry level also includes official bankruptcy forms and electronic signature functionality is built in. A virtual bankruptcy paralegal software service is also available for an additional fee.
Speaking of fees, Jubilee offers two price levels for its bankruptcy features: JubileeGo and JubileePRO. JubileeGo starts at $ 59 per case for two users per month. Features not included in this pricing tier include payment processing and the ability to automatically download court notices. JubileePRO is for unlimited users and costs $ 71 / month when billed monthly or $ 781 when billed annually. This level includes 51 cases per year, payment processing tools, text messaging functionality and court notification capabilities.
Another option to consider is Next chapter, also launched in 2016. In 2019, it was acquired by legal research firm Fastcase. NextChapter offers tiered pricing plans, as well as a number of add-ons, making it easy to create a custom setup to suit your specific business needs. All of NextChapter’s payment tiers include case management tools, local bankruptcy court forms, and unlimited customer storage. Some add-on features are included in higher pricing tiers, and for all pricing tiers, add-ons can be purchased individually for $ 200 to $ 500 per year. Add-ons include features such as text messaging, court notices, a client portal, and virtual paralegal services.
There are five pricing tiers, starting with the basic tier which costs $ 79 per case. The next level, called Whoa Package, costs $ 1,999 per year. Since there are many different pricing options, you will need to first determine the needs of your business and then carefully sort your pricing options to determine which one is best for you.
Last but not least, there is CINcompass. CINcompass is part of CINGroup, a company that also developed the premises-based bankruptcy software product, Best Case. In 2019, CINGroup was acquired by Stretto. The CINCompass website showcases its full feature set with practice management features included at all prices. These features include an unlimited number of users, customer onboarding and lead management tools, bankruptcy forms, court notifications, due diligence tools, e-filing capabilities, time tracking, and calendar and task management.
CINcompass offers three pricing tiers, all available at monthly or discounted annual prices. The pricing levels are very straightforward and all the features are included. The first tier, Standard, costs $ 75 per month or $ 825 per year for up to 10 bankruptcy filings each month. Then there’s the Plus level, which costs $ 100 per month or $ 1,140 per year for 11 to 25 bankruptcy filings per month. Finally, if your business plans to make more than 26 deposits per month, you will need the Enterprise level and need to call CINcompass to determine your cost.
So these are some of your options if you are looking for cloud based bankruptcy software. Notably, the three companies mentioned above are offering a free trial of their software, which is great news. As you know if you are a regular reader of my columns, I always advise my readers to take advantage of any free trials offered. Features and user interfaces vary widely, and the only way to determine which software tool will work best for your business is to take it for a test drive.
Additionally, to ensure a good fit, ask all stakeholders in your business to try the software and provide feedback. Indeed, if the majority of your team is not comfortable with the software, they will not use it. Once you’ve chosen the right software for your business and everyone is on board, the next step is company-wide training. From there, everything should run smoothly and you will be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of a business equipped with modern cloud-based bankruptcy case management software.
Nicole Black is a lawyer, author, journalist and legal technology evangelist in Rochester, New York. My case, law firm management software for small businesses. She is the nationally renowned author of Cloud computing for lawyers and is co-author of Social media for lawyers: the next frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She is also co-author of Criminal law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regularly for ABAJournal.com, Above the Law and the Daily Record; wrote hundreds of articles for other publications; and regularly speaks at conferences on the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on twitter @nikiblack, or it can be attached to [email protected].