Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers practice management software with advanced document assembly capabilities (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the TL NewsWire Top 25 Products of 2016 Awards and the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a cloud practice management app with a robust data import tool, another practice management app with a do-it-yourself QuickBooks integration, an Outlook add-in that prevents email mishaps, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.
Much of law practice involves recurring, routine tasks. The less time these tasks require, the more time you can devote to the thorny legal issues you're hired to solve. This is especially important for those of you in personal injury practice because of the upfront financing you provide.
SmartAdvocate Cloud … in One Sentence
SmartAdvocate is browser-based practice management software for personal injury law firms that is now available in a hosted version called SmartAdvocate Cloud.
The Killer Feature
"Every time we show SmartAdvocate's Document Template Generator to lawyers, they are amazed at how much work it saves," Chief Operating Officer Arnie Baum told me.
The lynchpin for this document automation is SmartAdvocate's Microsoft Word add-in. This connects Word to your case data in SmartAdvocate. You can automatically populate Word documents with any of this data (including your own custom fields) using Merge Codes.
Out of the box, SmartAdvocate contains nearly 2,000 Merge Codes and hundreds of templates you can modify. You can also create your own templates. None of this involves programming. Instead, you select the Merge Codes you want to use and place them into the template. These templates can include envelopes. "A document that normally takes 3-4 minutes to create can be generated, emailed, and stored in 30 seconds," says Baum.
"There is simply no information you can't enter into the database and there is a merge code for everything so you can generate complicated documents and PDF forms," says SmartAdvocate user Philip L. Franckel, Partner at Franckel & Plevy. "It is highly customizable and easy."
Other Notable Features
SmartAdvocate users spend most of their time in the Case Summary. This elaborate environment contains every conceivable piece of information about a case — critical deadlines, incident details, injuries, medical providers, insurers, timeline, disbursements, notes, etc. The Case Browse feature enables you to search and filter this data, and make bulk changes across multiple cases such as assigning a new lawyer.
How often do you take notes that you later cannot find? SmartAdvocate doesn't only store your notes in the Case Summary, it also enables you to categorize notes by type and search for them with filters. Notes can contain links to related items in SmartAdvocate such as contacts or documents for quick reference.
SmartAdvocate offers two calendars — Case and Office. The former contains case-related events, while the latter contains these events plus non-case events like your vacations. The Office calendar also displays the schedules of everyone in the office. Thanks to the Outlook add-in, you can add these calendars to Outlook and your smartphone. The add-in also enables you to save client-related email in SmartAdvocate.
SmartAdvocate offers more than 20 customizable dashboards. The home dashboard — called MySmartAdvocate — lists your upcoming appointments, deadlines, tasks, and more. Other dashboards enable you to focus on specific areas of your firm such as advertising results and finances.
What Else Should You Know?
Other features of SmartAdvocate include a Case Intake Wizard for case creation from any location,, reports to which you can subscribe by email, and the ability to send text messages to clients from within the system without revealing your phone number. "Initially available only in a server-based version, SmartAdvocate Cloud provides all this functionality in a hosted platform," said Baum. Learn more about SmartAdvocate Cloud.
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