LexisNexis: Firm Manager Empowers Small Legal Offices

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LexisNexis added another legal software system to its product line that will have solo and small legal firms breathing a collective sigh of relief. Firm Manager, which is still in beta for PCs and Macs, offers an on-premise solution for small legal offices.

"Some of our customers asked for a way to streamline the workflow in a small office," says Audrey Mungal, director of product line management at LexisNexis. "They asked if we could develop an on-site, web-based system that would eliminate the headaches of updating software. We said we could, and we did."

LexisNexis worked with more than 200 attorneys and an advisory board in developing the solution from the ground up to meet the needs of single practitioners and legal offices with fewer than five staff members. For the testing phase, LexisNexis recruited a market research firm and asked about the most pressing problems facing attorneys in small offices, says Loretta Ruppert, senior director of community management for LexisNexis Practice Management. "We went out to their sites and watched how they worked," says Ruppert.

Many attorneys voiced a universal complaint about trying to manage all the workflows in a small office, saying they went to law school to be lawyers, not business administrators. "This is something we call 'the unfortunate side effect,'" says Mungal, which are problems circumvented using a SaaS (software as a service) system with secure system administration, automatic backups, and multiple data centers.

The dashboard, which is divided into quadrants, offers a clean homepage with sections for Appointments, Tasks, Matters, and Memos. Handy tabs across the top organize legal material into categories: Home, Contacts, Matters, Calculator & Tabs, Memos, Time & Expenses, and Files & Documents. Daily digests can be prepared and generated the night before to highlight the next day's events, such as scheduled appointments and updates about tasks that have been delegated to a paralegal. …