ProLaw Done Right

By Doug Hafford, Vice President of Consulting Services - Partner and Founder, Afinety, Inc.

There are two types of ProLaw® clients in the world. The ones who love it, embrace it, and squeeze every last drop of value out of it, and on the flip side, those who are dissatisfied for one reason or another.
First, let me say this is neither a love letter to ProLaw (and all of my good friends there) nor is it a condemnation. This is simply a way to help prospective ProLaw clients in their decision making, or to help those in the second category above find a way to be in the first category!

As a legal specific IT vendor, we see a lot of the common applications law firms use on a day-to-day basis. The general thoughts below can be applied to just about any of the legal specific and, most importantly, customizable applications, including ProLaw.

The key part of these applications that clients often do not understand is that the cost of the software is only a small part of the overall cost of implementing these products. By their very nature, these applications require significant consultation, proper design, customization by professionals, and a robust training plan. This means that the cost of the software is often less than ½ of the overall cost and often tends toward 1/3.

The idea behind ProLaw is an excellent one: Bring together almost every aspect that a law firm has to manage in a single, unified software application. ProLaw goes even further by providing best in class modules in just about every area they cover. Time and billing, accounting, calendar and docketing, contact management, case management, document management – you name it, they have it.

Obviously, not having to use six or more applications to manage all of these is a big advantage. If you think about it, learning how several applications “think” and then dealing with the fact that they do not integrate in any meaningful way ends up costing a firm in different ways. In the end, it is probably more expensive than buying an all-in-one solution like ProLaw and making the investment in both time and consultants to get it done right.

I can think of several firms that have ProLaw experts on staff and, in fact, some of the best ProLaw people I know are these on-staff experts. In some cases, this can make a lot of sense because the firm can get nearly any report it wants or needs at a moment’s notice, and they can continue to get a high degree of value from their investment by leveraging every part of ProLaw.

In other cases, successful firms have hired a true third party ProLaw expert or consultant to help them get the most out of their software. This begs the question, why not use the experts internally at ProLaw? You can certainly do this, but the difference between a third party consultant and the ProLaw experts is not in product knowledge but rather approach.

An outside consultant will help you manage the entire project on your end. With the internal ProLaw team, their approach is designed for you to manage your own project, thus your load will be larger and more of your time will be devoted to each step of the customization. Additionally, because of the limitations any manufacturer’s representatives face, they are less likely to tell you “that’s a bad idea – here’s a better way to do that.”

Planning for adequate training is possibly the most underestimated part of implementing ProLaw. Training for ProLaw is really a multi-faceted proposition. Some of your staff will only enter time or perhaps calendar events. Others will interact heavily with the Front Office portion of ProLaw as they work on more complex matters. Still others will be responsible for reporting, financial accounting, and other back office tasks that are distinct and yet crucial to your firm’s operation.

Training will require a deep knowledge not only of ProLaw but of the firm’s environment. For example, if your firm uses ProLaw for document management, you will want to ensure that your users know how to save a document in ProLaw, how to save an email to a matter, and how calendared events appear and affect an attorney’s calendar in Outlook. So while a ProLaw trainer will be outstanding in the product itself, they may not have the time or knowledge of the rest of your firm that a consulting team can bring. This is another reason to consider a consultant to assist you.

Finally, support after the install is critical to a successful deployment. This means that your firm must be empowered with well-trained users and aware of how to get help in efficient ways. Many times firms call ProLaw support even though what they are asking is something fairly simple. This tends to overload the tech support at ProLaw, and thus wait times might be longer for those clients who need more technical assistance.

In summary, ProLaw is one of, if not the finest law firm management software programs in existence. It does just about anything your firm might need, but it does require commitment. If you have ProLaw now and are not satisfied with it, reach out to an experienced consultant and let them help you make it the application you expected. If you are thinking of embarking on a ProLaw adventure, understand the big picture to ensure you will end up with the final results your firm desires. There are no shortcuts, but if done correctly, your firm’s users will be able to embrace and utilize all that ProLaw has to offer.


Afinety provides complete IT services for small and medium-sized businesses. Its unique standardized approach is designed to increase your efficiency and decrease your bottom-line costs. Whether you'd like to completely outsource or increase the potential of your in-house IT, Afinety offers affordable solutions that simply work. Click here to learn more.

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