Legal Software Explained: Tech, Benefits, & Impact



introduction to legal software

If you were a lawyer just twenty-five years ago, it would be difficult to predict what the typical law firm would look like today. Even though technology companies started to market directly to law firms as early as the 1950s with tech like a dictation machine (a type of sound recording device), it wasn’t until the 1970s and 80s that computers and fax machines entered the picture. By the 1990s, every law firm had at least one computer and a word processor, and some were even delving into a newer technology to communicate with clients and colleagues—email.


Fast forwarding to today, the level of advanced legal technology that’s available to legal professionals and firms of all stripes is vast and comprehensive. The legal tech market was valued at $27.6 Billion USD in 2021 and is projected to grow to a balloon-sized $69.7 Billion by 2032. According to these projections, the law tech market currently represents about 7% of the total legal services market.

There has got to be a reason behind such a booming industry, and the reason is quite clear: legal software enhances efficiency, productivity, client satisfaction, and as a result of all three—revenue.

In this complete guide, we give you a detailed overview of modern legal software, including its importance for legal professionals, benefits, considerations you should keep in mind when choosing a new solution for your business, and a special look at legal technology trends that will shape the future of the industry. 

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Legal software is any application or tool that helps legal professionals perform their work effectively. Common processes that attorneys and other legal professionals need to handle, such as pricing of services, document management, trust accounting, case management, and more, can all be made easier and more efficient to handle with legal software. 

Most law firms today implement more than one legal technology solution to meet the needs of their legal professionals and add efficiency to the firm’s operations. 

Type of Legal Technology


Case Management Software

Also known as practice management software, it allows data for the entire firm to be stored in a central location for easy access by people and programs.

Legal Pricing Software

Helps you set out and manage pricing for your firm’s alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) through pricing templates and collaborative features.

Lawyer Timekeeping Software

Tracking time effectively is essential for law firms that still use the billable hour. For firms that don’t use it, tracking time to determine how long certain tasks take and using that information as a factor in pricing matters can still be useful.

Legal Document Management Software

Organizes growing numbers of legal documents so that they are categorized and searchable by keywords. Goes hand-in-hand with law firm knowledge management software.

Legal Billing Software

Streamlines the process of turning pricing into an invoice and sending it to the client so they can pay. Goes hand-in-hand with online payment processing software.

The common types of lawyer applications that legal professionals and firms often use are discussed in more detail below.



Case Management Software

For law firms and legal professionals and law firms of all sizes, including enterprise law firms, case management software provides a centralized location to store and track important client data, including contact information, pricing, and billing information, case notes, appointment schedules and history, and client communications. Case management systems, also called legal matter management software, allow legal professionals to access comprehensive information quickly and efficiently, much quicker than paper-based filing systems or spreadsheet programs.

Standout features of case management systems include: 


  • Centralized database of information—Whether it’s a case note, audio or video file, report, task, deadline, or contact information for the client, a centralized system ensures that sensitive information is securely available in one location for easy searchability and controlled user access. Case management software also often provides project management capabilities.
  • Data analysis tools—Instead of having to sift through endless datasets to gather information and insights, a great case management system will offer built-in intelligence tools that visualize information for you in the form of dashboards, charts, graphs, maps, and more to help you make sense of gathered data and business metrics. 
  • Controlled multi-user access—Considering that firms deal with sensitive information often stored in the case management system, having multi-user access with granular administrative permission control is essential for ensuring that the right people have the right access to the right information at the right time. 
  • Web or network-based access—These days, remote work is the new normal, so it’s important that employees can access important information on the go. Most case management software offerings are accessed online via a browser, but network-based access through the cloud (so the data is stored via your firm’s servers) is also available with some solutions.
client intake software for lawyers

Client Intake Software for Lawyers

Related to case management software, client intake software for lawyers is extremely useful for reducing the time spent on the client onboarding process. Intake software typically integrates into your website, providing customizable forms that potential clients can fill out. The information is then sent to a CRM or case management system and then prioritized for attorneys to follow up on. Getting some background information before a discovery call is important so that attorneys can do preliminary research and otherwise be more prepared for a client call. 


Legal Pricing Software

To set out and effectively manage prices for your alternative fee arrangements or non-hourly work, you’ll need legal pricing software that keeps everything in one place. AFA pricing software should marry collaboration and matter management, allowing legal professionals and other stakeholders in your firm to build, review and comment on client matter pricing so you can continually optimize your firm’s pricing strategy. 

Standout features of legal pricing software for AFAs include:

  • A library of pricing templates—Providing a variety of industry-standard pricing templates for various types of matters with the ability to edit and adjust pricing and line items as needed allows you to price new matters in minutes without the fear of underpricing.
  • Value-based pricing modifiers—Keeping value-based considerations that affect pricing for different client matters consistent firm-wide can be an issue when there is no policy, system or procedure. AltFee’s value-based modifiers allow attorneys to add pricing adjustments for value-based factors such as rush projects, team capacity, project management, and more—completely customizable by yourself and your team.
  • The ability to comment in one place—Effective pricing relies heavily on collaboration between all of the legal professionals in a firm to set the most effective prices for each type of matter. Relying on emails and instant messages means communications can easily get lost as people use multiple systems to give their input. AltFee’s AFA pricing software has built-in commenting capabilities—tied to each client or matter pricing—so that the context behind communications and pricing decisions isn’t lost.
  • Integration with other systems—being able to talk nicely with other software that makes up your firm’s tech stack is essential for the unification of information and the elimination of double entry. AltFee integrates with Clio so that client information entered in Clio is always up-to-date in AltFee’s pricing software. Additionally, the Clio <> AltFee integration allows for more robust analysis of pricing outcomes to further faciliate pricing learnings.

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Lawyer Timekeeping Software

For firms that still use the billable hour, effective time tracking is essential. However, tracking time manually is tedious and time-consuming, meaning that it’s common for lawyers to put it off, resulting in inaccurate tracked time, often with a loss of hours that could have been billed. Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report indicated that the average lawyer billed just 2.5 hours (31%) of a typical 8–hour workday. In the latest 2023 Legal Trends Report by Clio, an analysis of realization rates indicated that 14% of billable hours never get invoiced. The problem is much bigger than the lack of effective time tracking, which we’ll get into in our “How Legal Software Has Changed the Industry” section below, but implementing lawyer timekeeping software can help firms get back at least some billable hours due to poor tracking. 

Even if you don’t use the billable hour, keeping track of the time it takes to complete certain tasks and projects can be an important factor for price setting and resource allocation. 

Standout features of lawyer timekeeping software include:


  • The ability to track and record time from multiple sources—Whether it’s your calendar, email, communication logs, or notes and documents, effective time tracking software should be able to add time entries from multiple sources to the software so that you’re not missing any billable time.
  • The ability to review and edit entries—Accuracy is important for time tracking, so it’s essential to review and edit entries as needed. If you didn’t stop your real-time tracker at the exact minute you finished, for example, it’s important to be able to adjust those extra minutes.
  • Reporting and analytics so that you can clearly see where your firm’s time and money are going—It’s important to look back on time entry analytics so you can understand staff and firm performance effectively. Generating detailed reports helps you get a clearer picture of where billable time is going and why. 

Legal Document Management Software

Effectively managing the many documents that come through the doors of a law firm is imperative to ensure positive case outcomes. Organizing a large number of documents to be searchable is how legal document management software helps, as well as controlling how these documents are accessed and shared. Legal document management software intersects with legal knowledge management, as practices, procedures, knowledge, and expertise and how these key pieces of information are managed directly relate to the firm’s practices on file organization. 

Standout features of legal document management software include:


  • Version control—Unlabeled and seemingly duplicate versions of the same document can quickly cause chaos in finding the right information, so legal document management software with version control is essential. If someone makes edits or changes to a document, it should be noted and clear within that document what was changed, when, and by whom.
  • Access controls and permissions—Ensuring that only authorized users can access certain documents when needed is essential for keeping information secure across your firm.
  • Document classification—Being able to tag or categorize documents in a way that works for your firm so that they are easily searchable via keywords is important for ease of information retrieval. 
  • Electronic signature—Some legal document management software offerings may include electronic signature capabilities, which make it easy for a client or lawyer to officially sign a document without having to rely on an external program or physical signature.

Legal Billing Software

Being able to bill clients effectively is important, and legal billing software allows you to incorporate time tracking and other variables into an electronic invoice that you can then send to your clients. Since legal services must be priced before they are billed, pricing software goes hand-in-hand with legal billing software, ensuring that the same agreed-upon pricing between the lawyer and client gets translated into an expected invoice at the end of the service agreement.

Standout features of legal billing software include:


  • Time tracking—Many legal billing software offerings incorporate time tracking to make turning time into a bill easier for firms that rely on the billable hour. 
  • The ability to translate pricing into an invoice—It’s essential that the process from pricing to service to invoice is as seamless on the back end as possible to avoid any discrepancies popping up unexpectedly. 
  • Flexible invoicing models—Many firms have varying pricing models, including flat fees, billable hours, and contingency fees. Being able to invoice a client quickly and easily based on various pricing models is important for law firm efficiency. Legal billing software should be able to handle multiple billing models per invoice as needed.
  • Client payment portal—Legal billing software that includes a client payment portal is an essential feature for getting bills paid on time and offering the convenience of making payments to your clients.
  • Comprehensive reporting—After creating invoices and receiving payments, it’s important to gather essential information regarding those invoice send times, payment times, and more to paint a clear picture of your firm’s financial performance. 

Online Payment Processing

Offering clients the ability to pay online is essential. The convenience of paying online not only means that bills are more likely to be paid on time but when combined with legal billing software, reduces the chances that invoices are sent out late or never. Typically, legal billing software includes an online payment portal that clients can log into and pay their bills. Emailed invoices can get caught by a client’s spam filter or lost in a sea of emails, and snail mail can get delivered late or lost easily. Online payment is also very secure, as most online payment software uses secure payment gateway encryption protocols such as SSL and TLS to protect sensitive payment data during transmission. 



Online Payment Processing

There are several important ways that law software has made a lasting impact on the legal industry as a whole. These factors revolve around convenience, efficiency, and security and are discussed in more detail below. 

Client Intake and Management

The process of onboarding new clients has been streamlined thanks to legal software. During intake, law firms gather information about a potential client’s legal issue, ask specific questions, and do research to assess the complexity. From there, a legal professional with the necessary experience and expertise will work with the client to handle the case effectively. 

As part of this process, a discovery call needs to be made so that the lawyer and client can speak one-on-one, or the client visits the firm to speak in person. A typical client intake process often looks like the following:


Initial consultation: Either done through email, phone, or an online form. Using client intake software integrated into the firm’s website, the client can provide information about themselves and their legal situation via an intake form on the firm’s website. This gives the firm the needed background information to determine the right lawyer to handle the case and gives the client the opportunity to schedule a consultation time. 


Information gathering: During the consultation, the lawyer will gather information about the client and their case, including dates, times, relevant documentation, and any other necessary information that the lawyer may need. If the firm has a client portal, the client can easily provide additional documentation and information to the lawyer through a secure application.


Checking for conflict of interest: The lawyer and firm will do a preliminary check to ensure that no conflict of interest is taking place (e.g., a divorce case where former spouses inadvertantly end up going to the same law firm)


Assessment of the case: Based on the information gathered so far, the firm will now assess the case to determine whether it has the legal professionals and resources available to handle it effectively and result in a positive outcome.


Engagement agreement: If the firm decides to take the case, the client will be provided with an engagement letter that outlines the responsibilities of the client, the firm, and the lawyer, as well as the scope of legal services and fees. 


Client acceptance: If the client accepts the terms of engagement, they will sign the engagement letter, and the firm can begin to provide legal services to the client. 

But unfortunately, a bottleneck exists at the first step of this process. In the 2019 Legal Trends Report by Clio, 79% of surveyed clients said they expect a lawyer to respond to their query within 24 hours. However, most law firms that were surveyed at that time fell significantly short of that goal. After a “mystery shop” of different firms, 60% didn’t respond to their emails and only 56% answered their phone. It’s important to note that these numbers are based on phone and email only.

With online client intake forms, the numbers seem to be better. In a 2023 online lead form responsiveness survey of 1,300 law firms conducted by Hennessey Digital, 73% of firms responded to online inquiries, up from 67% in 2022 and 59% in 2021. Breaking down these numbers further, 18% (211) of these firms responded in under 5 minutes, meaning they likely use automated response tools to engage with clients faster. 27% (320) of firms didn’t respond, but this number is down from previous years (33% in 2022 and 41% in 2021). 

By incorporating legal software into the process of client intake, significant time is saved learning about the client and their legal issue and determining whether the firm has the expertise and resources to help each client. Plus, most client intake software offerings can be set to automatically interact with the firm’s client relationship management (CRM) tool (usually in the form of lawyer practice management software or case management software) to help prioritize which lawyers contact which clients. 

Virtual Meetings

With many lawyers and legal professionals working remotely and more clients preferring virtual meetings over in-person ones, digital communication options have become the cornerstone for lawyers keeping in touch with their clients. 

The reasons behind the popularity of digital communication options like virtual meetings are easy to ascertain. Not only is communicating with a lawyer over video chat much more convenient for a client than driving to a law firm to meet them in person, but it’s also more convenient for the lawyer. It takes less time for the lawyer to engage with eligible clients, which decreases response time. Video conferencing, for instance, can allow a lawyer to reach clients in a wider berth rather than being limited to their local area (barring jurisdictional rules regarding practice areas). Plus, video conferencing is more efficient than in-person meetings, meaning the lawyer can be more productive during the day. 


Virtual Meetings

Most video conferencing software allows calls to be recorded, which is invaluable for lawyers, as they can simply rewatch sections of a video meeting to recall certain details without having to take notes. Or lawyers can take it one step further and have artificial intelligence (AI) take the notes for them during the meeting. In addition, most software can transcribe a video’s audio into text, making it even easier for a lawyer to pinpoint important information. 

Law Firm Efficiency

Arguably one of the most impactful ways that legal software has changed the industry is by making law firms more efficient. Although legal software has been doing this for years, the conversation about law firm efficiency has been highlighted recently due to the rise in software using AI. Legal software with AI incorporated into it has already shown that it has the potential to make even complex processes take mere seconds instead of minutes or hours.

Of course, anytime efficiency comes up as a discussion point in the legal industry, it’s inevitable that talk about the billable hour will follow. After all, the billable hour doesn’t encourage efficiency—and if work takes less time, how can a lawyer justify charging a client the same amount? Increased efficiency and billable hours either force a lawyer to take on more work or reduce profit. Firms and lawyers simply can’t become more efficient without finding a new pricing model and eliminating the billable hour. 

Billable Hour vs. AFAs

In the previous section when discussing lawyer timekeeping software, the topic of the billable hour and the lack of billable hours actually getting invoiced to the client came up. The 2023 Legal Trends Report by Clio highlights this problem as still being a current issue and highlights the need for solutions to be implemented related to billing and collecting payments for firms that have cash flow issues.

The conversation between AFAs and the billable hour quickly intersect at this point because, more often than not, the reason for an unpaid bill directly correlates to a client’s perception of value. Sure, other factors are mentioned in Clio’s report, such as firms forgetting to bill their clients due to clerical errors and clients not getting bills due to unreliable and easy-to-lose sending methods, like snail mail and email. In these cases, online payments can be implemented to increase payments, and technology or process changes can be done to fix clerical errors. 


The more difficult conversation—but one that will have the most impact on the firm’s bottom line—is the perception of value by the client and how that value translates into the dollars billed. When it comes to the billable hour, perception of value can easily fall by the wayside in favor of focusing and worrying about the final bill, since the client only has an estimate and not a sure figure. At the same time, the chances of the client feeling that the final bill is too much and the lawyer having to negotiate to receive payment is high—because that original perception of value is all but lost.


Billable Hour vs. AFAs

With fixed fees and other AFAs, value is central in the conversation of the service offering and is worked directly into the price. The client knows what they must pay for the service at the beginning, so there are no surprises when the final bill comes. Plus, this pricing method doesn’t rely as much on tracked time, reducing stress for lawyers in an industry where as many as two-thirds of lawyers experience burnout yearly. 

Given that this pricing method better suits the work-life balance needs of lawyers and satisfies client demand for more transparent pricing options, it’s not surprising that more and more firms are embracing AFAs. Pricing trends indicate that law firm revenue with AFAs can also be higher—and not just from increased paid bills but also from better client relationships that result in more services being sold. 

However, managing AFAs effectively requires a good mix of collaboration, experience, insight, and continuous optimization. Legal pricing software like AltFee fits the bill by centralizing your firm’s matter pricing and encouraging collaboration and learnings which can be shared firm-wide. Additional features like a matter pricing template library and firm-wide value-based modifiers make it easy to start organizing your AFA pricing and ensure consistency across your firm. 

Legal Industry Pricing Trends Report 2023

Surveying legal professionals across the world, the report showcases how AFAs are contributing to increased profits for firms, better use of technology, and better work-life balance and working conditions for legal professionals.

Accessibility and Security

Keeping data safe and secure while at the same time ensuring accessibility of that data to those who need it is an extremely important consideration for law firms of all sizes. Spreadsheets, Word documents, video and audio files, and financial data need centralized management in terms of security but also with regard to accessibility. In this way, legal knowledge management combined with legal accounting software is essential, while incorporating a solution such as Immuta to make keeping data secure no matter which program is located in easy. 

Another important aspect of having centralized security management is user access. Different programs and applications will have different approaches to user security, and managing each platform individually can be a chore. A program like Immuta can provide features like Single Sign-On and Multi-Factor Authentication across all software for easy access and consistent security. 

Online Signing

Being able to sign a document online without having to physically go to a lawyer’s office or the lawyer having to travel to the client provides significant time savings. Plus, it’s much easier for a client to simply log into a client portal and sign a document needed to move their case forward. 

In the United States, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act was passed in 2000, giving electronic signatures the same validity as in-person or “wet ink” signatures. In Canada, similar legislation was passed simultaneously, and incorporated into the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). 

Some key points to remember about signatures include:


  • Some legal documents in the United States and Canada may still require wet signatures or be recommended to sign with wet-ink over electronic. These often include Wills, Trusts, Notary Public Services, and Deeds (with Deeds, electronic signatures can technically be used, but because they typically require a physical witness, a clause may need to be included in the document indicating a witness was present during electronic signing). In Nevada, for instance, electronic signatures are accepted provided certain conditions are met. However, in Alberta, the Alberta Electronic Transactions Act indicates that Wills and Codicils, Trusts created by Wills and Codicils, Personal Directives, Land transfer interests, including interests in mines and minerals, and more must have a wet ink signature to be valid. It’s important to carefully review legislation in your area to ensure that an electronic signature is valid for the document(s) you want to use it for. 
  • There must be a clear intent to sign demonstrated. Just like with a wet ink signature, intent to sign must be demonstrated with electronic signatures to indicate that the person meant to sign the document and agrees with it. Intent to sign can be shown via an “accept” button or by having the signer type out their name in a separate form box. 
  • Consent for electronic business transactions. ESIGN and PIPEDA have specific requirements indicating a person must consent to electronic signatures before they are valid. Like other online consent such as terms and conditions statements, consent for electronic signatures is often given by having the user click an “accept” button or checkbox at the end of a consent statement. At the same time, there must also be an option to opt-out and go with a wet ink signature instead.
  • Record of signature association. A record of the process needing an electronic signature must be available. This traceable path showcases the steps involved in getting to the part where the electronic signature was needed, including asking for consent and intent to sign. 
  • Signed copies of documentation must be made available to all involved parties. Signed copies should be sent to all parties involved when signing, which is usually included as default in many e-signature software solutions.
  • Record of retention. For documents with electronic signatures, the documents themselves must be stored securely and retrievable. 

Legal software has a major impact on how the industry functions as a whole, and that’s because law firms and legal professionals gain direct benefits from using these innovative pieces of software. A summary of these benefits is provided in the table below:

Legal Software Offering

Benefits Provided

Case Management Software

  • Provides a centralized data management system that securely stores client and case information
  • Allows access from anywhere through the cloud
  • Allows for insights and information related to determining potential case outcomes to be found via a searchable database (works hand-in-hand with legal knowledge management software for this purpose)
  • Allows firms to implement controlled user access to keep sensitive data secure

Client Intake Software

  • Makes it easier and faster for firms to respond to client inquiries
  • Helps firms increase the number of clients they assist
  • Makes it easier to prioritize client consultations and onboarding
  • Helps match the right client to the right lawyer

Pricing Software (AFAs)

  • Helps improve revenue metrics such as realization rate, collection rate, and utilization rate.
  • Encourages collaboration with stakeholders to set the best prices for clients and the law firm
  • Enables easier and more effective management of your firm’s AFAs

Lawyer Timekeeping Software

  • Makes tracking time easier and more accurate for lawyers and legal professionals
  • Tracked time can be applied directly to invoices to ease in their creation
  • Helps increase accurate time tracking throughout the firm through convenient software

Legal Document Management

  • Keeps documents organized and easy to access
  • Often allows searches to be conducted via keywords that highlight certain areas of a document, making information retrieval faster (think Google’s text highlight for searches)
  • Provides one place where all important documents can be accessed

Billing Software

  • Makes it easier to create consistent and detailed invoices
  • Reminders and notifications help ensure that bills are created and sent to clients on time
  • Many legal billing software offerings allow online payments, which is a convenient option for clients that increases collection rates for firms.

At the end of the day, legal software offers three important gains for legal professionals and law firms:


Addressing Lawyer Burnout

With increased efficiency and the ability to reduce time spent on tedious administrative tasks, lawyers can get back more of their day and dedicate their time to do what they signed up for—practicing the law. In the past, lawyers overworking themselves and eventually burning out was, unfortunately, a norm that became acceptable in the legal profession.

While the legal profession is seeing a rise in some mental health-related issues, firms are increasingly adopting extended leave, substance abuse programs, on-site wellness professionals, and more to help lawyers cope.

A November 2022 survey from the New Jersey State Bar shows troubling statistics regarding anxiety, alcohol misuse, and suicidal thoughts among lawyers in the state. 
A 2023 mental health-related survey of nearly 3,000 lawyers conducted by ALM showed a slight to significant increase in conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. One of the major contributing factors the survey highlights for these increases is the pandemic, which disrupted work and caused a significant backlog that some firms are still working through. The billable hour was also highlighted as a significant contributor to burnout, as some firms are still burdening their lawyers with high billable hour requirements and not putting enough acknowledgment toward the importance of work-life balance. It’s suggested that billable hours need to be cut back to about 30 hours per week to give the lawyers time for unbillable tasks and to effectively disconnect from work.
Research on lawyer well-being conducted by Realm Recruit points out that unmanageable caseloads, lack of work-life balance, and poor management are at the top of the list of reasons why lawyers experience burnout. Recommendations include flexibility with work, such as through variable working hours and remote work, paid well-being days, and subsidies on wellness tools like gym memberships, which should be offered by law firms. 

In many ways, a combination of legal technology and shifts in cultural thinking surrounding how much the typical lawyer should work can help address many issues that lead to burnout. Legal software helps make work more efficient and enables a reduction in billable and non-billable time, which gives more time back to lawyers and legal professionals. Alternative fee arrangements, which shine when appropriately and effectively managed with legal pricing software, can reduce lawyer burnout because the focus is shifted away from time tracking. By being mindful of current trends related to mental health issues in the legal industry and taking proactive steps to provide assistance and support for lawyers and legal professionals, firms can be a positive force in driving change rather than hindering it.


Increased Revenue Metrics

There are several ways that legal software can assist with increasing revenue metrics for your law firm. First, collection rates can be significantly increased by allowing clients to make online payments, which is a much more convenient way to pay than paying over the phone with a credit card or through a check or money order. Simply offering clients online payment as an option always increases bill collection rates due to the increased convenience.

Secondly, offering price certainty more often than not increases realization rates. Clients know and agree to pay for a specific scope of work before it starts therefore reducing uncertatinties and potential obstacles in the client-lawyer relationship This is one of the reasons why Alternative Fee Arrangements have been gaining popularity in the legal industry. Instead of charging for a set number of billable hours that the lawyer has to track, what the client has to pay is shifted to the value of the legal service being provided. This means the lawyer isn’t beholden to charge for a certain number of minimum hours, and the client knows what they will pay before the work is done. This certainty naturally leads to higher realization rates because the incentive shifts to completing the work effectively and efficiently and the need for discounts or write-offs to get bills paid is significantly reduced.

However, pricing software is recommended to manage AFAs effectively and ensure that the entire firm is consistent with pricing. AltFee provides a library of default templates, as well as useful tools like value-based modifiers to make managing pricing for AFAs straightforward. 


Enhanced Client Satisfaction

Overall, using legal software can enhance client satisfaction. Being able to pay bills online, communicate with a lawyer or legal professional through video conferencing or other digital communication options, keep track of the case progress, and provide documentation through an online portal are all examples of how legal software provides enhanced convenience and ease of communication for lawyers and clients. Plus, lawyers can set boundaries for communications by blocking notifications after a specific time and giving clients the ability to get instant answers to common questions through website chatbots. 

When choosing legal software solutions, there are a variety of important considerations to remember to ensure that you choose the right solutions for your business.

These considerations include:

Onboarding: Ease of Use and Team Buy-In

Any software you implement for your law firm should be easy to understand and use. That doesn’t necessarily mean that onboarding shouldn’t be required or that you’ll be a master of the software from the first login, but it does mean that the user interface and navigation of the software should be straightforward enough that the average user can perform basic tasks. Obviously, different professionals in a firm will have different technical abilities, but considering that using various applications and software effectively is such a big part of any job at a law firm, most legal professionals have at least basic technical skills and knowledge.


If the software is too difficult to use even after some onboarding, then the chances of employee buy-in plummet. If the software makes their jobs more difficult and time-consuming instead of doing the opposite, it’s easy to see why employees would ditch the software in favor of their already well-established way of doing the task. If the software isn’t used effectively, it’s a wasted investment.

Product Type(s)

There are a lot of legal software offerings on the market to tackle any potential task that a law firm may need. Your law firm may only need one or two solutions, or it may need several. It’s important that you determine the processes, procedures, or bottlenecks that your firm deals with and then do research to discover how legal software can potentially improve outcomes. 

For example, even though the law firm DL&Co saw increased revenue and overall client satisfaction after implementing AFAs, not having pricing software presented certain challenges related to collaboration, pricing, and scoping projects, keeping everything pricing-related in one place for easy reference, and more. Addressing these challenges would mean significant gains in efficiency and productivity when it comes to anything pricing-related for the firm.

After implementing AltFee’s legal pricing software, DL&Co saw realization rates go up by 21%, Collection rates go up by over 7%, and overall increased satisfaction from clients. 

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This is just one example of how implementing the right software in your firm can have a major impact.

Features and Benefits

Related to product types, it’s important to determine the features that you absolutely can’t live without for each software solution that you’re thinking of implementing into your firm due to the benefits they provide. For example, you wouldn’t want to get document management software that doesn’t provide version control. Or billing software that doesn’t easily connect with your other software, like calendars and emails, so it's easier to integrate certain parameters into your invoices. 

By determining which features you absolutely need and which ones you can live without, you can narrow down your list of choices and get a better idea of your budget. 

Security and Data Management

Because law firms deal with a lot of sensitive data, they are prime targets for cyber security attacks. Plus, many jurisdictions have specific rules regarding data storage that firms must follow. In Canada, the majority of provincial law societies follow the same or similar rules for cloud data storage, which the Law Society of British Columbia outlines well. Of note in these requirements is ensuring that the firm knows where the data is being stored and that the software vendor doesn’t claim to own any data uploaded to its systems by users. Plus, “reasonable” data security must be compatible, including Multi-Factor Authentication, Single Sign-On, and SSL and TSL encryption. The law firm must also have plans for backups, data recovery, and the potential for migration. 

Similar rules exist for many State Bar Associations in the USA, but firms must also follow rules implemented in the 2018 Cloud Act. In general, the Cloud Act provides blanket guidance for data ownership, security of data storage, and more. 

Most legal software companies are aware of the strict requirements of various jurisdictions where their customers live and are aware of the sensitive nature of legal data, so they often ensure that they meet or exceed these requirements. However, it’s always up to the consumer to do their due diligence and ensure that the chosen solution will not land them in a regulatory battle and that their client’s data remains safe and secure. 

Security and Data Management


Your law firm will have existing software in your tech stack, and the last thing you want is for any new software you add to that to exist in a silo. Ensuring that easy connections with your other software are possible, whether through APIs, out-of-the-box integrations, or an application store, it’s important that your law firm’s software talks nicely to each other so that data remains clean, accurate, and secure. Inaccurate or duplicate data can cause significant negative effects, like conflict of interest, incorrect spellings or names in documents and contracts, and much more. 

AltFee, for example, integrates easily with Clio, one of the most recognized legal practice software offerings on the market. Through AltFee’s integration with Clio, client information is automatically updated in AltFee, ensuring that your priced client matters are populated with the correct information every time. 


Reliable customer support from the software vendor is also an important consideration. If any issues pop up while your team is using the software, it’s important to be able to enlist the help of customer support specialists from the vendor to ensure that the issue is resolved as soon as possible. Be sure to read reviews from other customers and consult with your colleagues to get their take on a product before purchasing it. Less than stellar customer support can potentially cause significant roadblocks for getting work done for you and your legal professionals. 


It’s important that the software you choose for your law firm’s tech stack is scalable as your business grows. Since many legal software vendors these days offer tiered subscription pricing alongside per-user pricing, the software should also be flexible enough to allow you to add or remove users as you need to. 


The tech industry is constantly evolving, with new and existing offerings like legal AI tools emerging and improving over time. Future-proof software uses universally established standards, such as Rest APIs, to ensure that the software will be as compatible as possible with any future technology. Ask the software vendor about their approach to future-proofing and their timeline for adding or improving existing features. 

Law firms of different sizes will have different considerations when it comes to choosing any legal software, pricing software included. These considerations surround how well the software answers pain points, provides efficiency gains, and more.

Solo Practitioners

Some solo practitioners have their own practices because they’ve decided that they want to pursue their own aspirations regarding how they want to practice the law. This means that they are excited to build a practice from scratch, but at the same time have to make strict decisions regarding legal software due to budget constraints and a focus on features that are absolutely needed rather than nice to have. 

If using pricing software, for example, it must provide extensive utility, including integrating with practice management software for a seamless experience, and efficiency gains for the lawyer who’s juggling various roles for their firm. 

Top Software Considerations for Solo Practitioners:

  • Price
  • Efficiency
  • Scalability

Small and Mid-Size Law Firms

Smaller firms are likely going to have stricter budgets when it comes to purchasing and implementing new software, so price tends to be a bigger focus. Choosing a solution that’s affordable and allows flexible billing when you add or remove users is essential. 

As your firm takes on more clients and looks to improve customer service, fixed fees through legal pricing software handle the influx of new business with ease. Being able to store various templates for different legal matter pricing, and implement standardized value-based modifiers (for things like rush projects or matters where multiple attorneys are needed) is important to keep things consistent as your firm grows and manage expectations far better than the billable hour can. 

Collaboration between professionals in a central place for notes and feedback on projects also helps ensure context and learnings aren’t lost in the shuffle. Legal pricing software that keeps communications focused and contextual is essential to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to matter pricing.

Top Software Considerations for Small and Mid-Size Firms:

  • Ease of Use
  • Client Satisfaction
  • Collaboration

Large and Enterprise Law Firms

Larger firms are all about efficiency gains—doing more with less while still maintaining steady (or growing) profits. At the same time, legal professionals who work for larger firms are concerned about work-life balance while clients want more transparent upfront pricing. Utilizing a fixed fee pricing software that helps incentivize a reduction of hours while increasing revenue through improved realization rates and collection rates.

Pricing templates are another example of efficiency gains, allowing matter pricing to be created in mere minutes. In addition, value-based pricing modifiers are an attractive option to keep pricing consistent throughout the firm when it comes to rush projects, or projects that require the expertise of multiple legal professionals. If your firm is looking for a solution like this, AltFee has over 450 customizable pricing guidelines built by lawyers for lawyers.

Large and Enterprise Law Firms

Top Software Considerations for Large and Enterprise Firms:

  • Efficiency
  • Security / Data Management
  • Features / Integrations

We’ve been using pricing software as an example for each firm size, so here’s a consolidated list of how AltFee legal pricing software benefits solo practitioners, small to mid-size firms, and large firms in particular.


Firm Size

How AltFee Benefits These Firms

Solo Practitioners

  • Allows pricing and scoping for different matters to be created in minutes with pre-existing templates
  • Value-based modifiers help you ensure that you’re capturing your value specific to each client
  • Makes organizing and managing your AFAs easy and straightforward through one tool

Small to Mid-Size Firms

  • Value-based modifiers help you ensure that your firm’s fees align with the value that your professionals deliver
  • Templates make it easy to scope and price all types of matters
  • Collaboration with colleagues and stakeholders in the law firm regarding pricing is easy with contextual commenting

Large or Enterprise Firms

  • Ensure your fees align with the value that you’re delivering to each client with value-based modifiers
  • All team members can confidently scope, price, and communicate value to clients with clear pricing templates
  • The complexity of AFA management is reduced with communications, pricing, and optimization on a single platform

Start Earning More Revenue with Fixed Fees

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There are a wide variety of legal tech companies that provide products that stand out from the rest. These companies are responsible for creating well-known software that law firms and solo practitioners use on a daily basis. 

Here are some of these companies, broken down by category:

Best Legal Practice Management Software/Case Management Software: Clio

Legal practice management software is the core of the law firm’s operations. All data flows through it, and master data like client details is managed through it as well. Because legal practice management software is so central to a law firm’s operations, it’s important to choose an offering that is well-known and has the security features needed to handle sensitive information storage and transfer. 


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Comprehensive option that includes solutions for all law firm needs, from billing to case management
  • Easily integrates with other popular law software offerings through its dedicated application store
  • Approved by many bar associations and law societies worldwide

Best Legal Pricing Software: AltFee

Best Legal Pricing Software

Although legal pricing software is a relatively new addition to the plethora of software that the legal tech industry offers, it’s an important one. Given the fact that more and more firms and solo practitioners are turning to Alternative Fee Arrangements like Flat Fee Pricing for their services, being able to manage every important aspect of determining prices for different legal services is essential.


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Pricing templates make it easy to get started with AFAs or organize and optimize your current pricing strategies
  • Value-based modifiers ensure that value-based pricing considerations—like rush projects—are systematically priced with consistency throughout the firm
  • Built-in history tracking, pricing analytics and collaboration tools

Start Earning More Revenue with Fixed Fees

Break free from hourly pricing and take the fear out of scoping and pricing client projects to start maximizing profitability.

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Legal Billing & Payment Processing Software: BigTime

Billing is definitely not the most thrilling part of a lawyer’s job, but it’s still important. After all, clients need to pay their legal bills for lawyers to get paid themselves. Creating invoices and having clients securely pay those bills online is huge for law firms, increasing their collection rates. 


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Helps streamline the invoice creation and management process through automations
  • Integrates with other accounting software solutions like Quickbooks
  • Provides analytics on important law firm metrics to give you insight into revenue

Legal Document Automation: Gavel

Legal document automation is huge for productivity and efficiency gains. Being able to automate certain tasks can quickly add up to saving hours of time for a single attorney over the course of a typical workday. Automating aspects of document creation eliminates errors that could happen from manual entry and helps keep the document creation process streamlined and consistent. 


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Allows automatic document generation with customizable formatting
  • Allows you to create logic-based workflow processes that run in the background
  • Allows you to create legal “packages” for easier demonstration of legal services and billing

Legal Artificial Intelligence Software: CaseText

AI is a technology that has been making waves in the legal industry due to its ability to streamline more complex tasks, like legal research and contract writing. Utilizing AI in the right way can result in significant efficiency increases for your firm.


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Provides direct text-and-reply-based legal assistant functionality powered by ChatGPT-4
  • Provides document review functionality that helps ensure correctness and consistency
  • Provides automatic revision recommendations based on clauses, conflicts, and risks

Legal Accounting Software: Soluno

Managing the financials for a law firm properly is essential to ensure that the firm not only handles money properly but also meets regulatory requirements for the jurisdictions they do business in. Legal accounting software helps manage revenue, trusts, and more, even if your firm works with an external accountant. 


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Integrates with Office 365, NetDocuments, LawPay, and other productivity software
  • Cloud-based and accessible from any device with an internet connection and web browser
  • Fully compliant with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and state tax laws

Document Management Software: Worddox (NetDocuments)

Effective document management is essential for law firms. Saving files on a local system (a singular computer) can easily result in lost files, security breaches, and multiple versions of the same file without the ability to distinguish which one is the “master” document. Legal document management software takes the complexity out of file management for law firms by offering features like version history, cloud-based collaboration, and more. 


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features

Worlddox (NetDocuments)

  • Provides end-to-end document and email organization and management
  • Provides granular access controls
  • Provides archiving and version control

Best Legal Research Software: Westlaw

Legal research software is essential for lawyers to determine case risk and find essential information that they can apply to different client cases to increase the chances of a successful outcome. Legal research software simplifies and streamlines the research process by storing and organizing various types of legal information and knowledge. 


Legal Software Company

Standout Software Features


  • Provides up-to-date and organized collections of case law, statutes, and regulations that are vetted by professionals
  • Provides encyclopedias, journals, law reviews, and more to provide information on a specific area of the law
  • The West Key Number System makes finding specific arguments or legal issues easy and fast

Some legal software offerings are tailored to suit the specific needs of different types of legal practices. Here are some ways that legal technology adds efficiency, productivity, and ease of management for different areas of the law.

Family Law Software

Keeping in close communication with clients is essential in family law. Family law software has emerged to help attorneys keep in touch with clients while maintaining boundaries regarding client expectations of constant communication. Individuals dealing with the difficult life challenges that family law helps rectify are often emotionally charged, meaning it can be tougher to maintain professional boundaries without a rock-solid process in place that upholds those boundaries. Thankfully, family law software can help.


  • One of the most important features of family law software is the client portal. This portal acts as an intermediary platform between lawyer and client, where case updates and document sharing can be done safely and securely.
  • Family law software usually also provides advanced access and permissions settings for case details to protect sensitive information while allowing stakeholders to view what they need to ensure the case moves forward. For instance, certain stakeholders may be allowed to access a certain document, but parts of the document could be withheld by the software due to the stakeholder’s access permissions.
  • The ability to access case information on the go is paramount as family law cases can change quickly due to new information. Mobile and/or browser-based access is typically standard for family law software so that attorneys can access the information they need while in court or on the go.
  • Information management is key in family law, as marriage dates, separation dates, birthdays, children and dependent information, financials, and more must be on hand and easily searchable. For this reason, family law attorneys need robust case management software that can create customized fields to sort information for each client. 

Estate Planning Software

Estate Planning Software

Estate planning is essential for everyone, and attorneys have a big job ensuring that their clients have the most effective possible plan in place no matter which stage they are at in their lives. From newly married couples creating a Will for the first time to an entrepreneur determining what will happen to their business after they pass away, estate planning software helps attorneys organize and keep track of financials, assets, and important documents.

  • Tailoring intake forms for different types of estate planning is essential. Estate planning software can streamline client intake for clients who are seeking Power of Attorney, Wills, Trusts, or other documents by allowing you to customize the information you ask them to provide.
  • Keeping documents and other information organized is an essential feature of estate planning software. Having key information on hand, organized, and easily searchable is paramount for attorneys to be able to create effective estate plans for their clients.
  • Being able to connect with other estate planning tools is paramount. If you’re an estate planning attorney, you’ll likely be using a variety of applications to help manage your client’s estate plans, such as WealthCounsel and Smokeball. Ensuring that any software in your tech stack connects with your estate planning software for seamless information sharing is essential to eliminate errors and keep information organized and accurate. 

Personal Injury Law Firm Software

Personal injury lawyers are constantly gathering information and communicating with clients to paint a clear picture of each case to determine how to provide the best possible outcome for their clients. But for all of that to occur, clients need to be able to find you and provide comprehensive details about their case quickly and easily. That’s where personal injury law firm software comes in.


  • Customizable intake forms are needed for effective personal injury law firm software. Intake forms should be tailorable for different types of personal injury cases, such as disability claims, accidents, lawsuits, and more, to get the most relevant information from each potential client.
  • Effective document management is key. Most personal injury law firm software offerings have customizability in how documents are stored and managed, such as medical records, financials, and other case details. Keeping this information in a centralized location is key for effectively managing each personal injury case.
  • Clear communication of objectives. Clear communication is essential in personal injury cases. Clients should be informed of case updates, and expectations surrounding communications and expected case outcomes should be outlined from the beginning. Personal injury law firm software usually allows automated yet personalized communications to be sent out to clients when needed to ensure they are always up to date with their case progress.

Criminal Law Software

Criminal defense lawyers must be able to keep track of files, court dates, and other sensitive information related to a typical criminal law case. Having software to help organize information and keep track of commitments is essential so that you can focus your time on representation.


  • Automated document preparation streamlines preparation time. The ability for software to automatically fill in important details on documents, such as names of parties, dates, and more, is important to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Customizable organization of case details. There are a wide variety of cases that criminal law attorneys deal with, and each of them has specific types of information that is essential. For example, a DUI case will require vehicle information, while an assault case will require detailed information about the context of the event. It’s important that the criminal law software allows these details to be recorded via customizable forms and document types.
  • Ease of access to documents and other important files. Being able to access information on the go is paramount for criminal cases. Most criminal law software offerings integrate with file storage solutions like DropBox, and Google Drive, or offer their own file storage to ensure that important documents can be called up, even if you need to access them on a smartphone. 

Employment Law Software

In employment law, attorneys are handling multiple moving parts when it comes to their clients. Managing multiple contracts, legal disputes, agreements, and more is typical for each client seeking the assistance of an employment law attorney. By keeping files organized and streamlining administrative tasks, you can focus on representing your clients effectively and increasing the efficiency of their employment-related legal matters.

Employment Law Software


  • Effective case management is essential for the employment law attorney. The ability to expertly manage documents and files safely and securely, including the smallest case details, is important to ensure that you can provide the most effective service to your clients.
  • Secure communication is needed to maintain confidentiality. Effective employment law software typically provides a secure client and co-counsel portal that helps facilitate easy communication and document sharing, complete with permission and access settings. 
  • Synchronization with your calendar and email so you never miss an important deadline or appointment is essential. When dealing with so many moving parts related to each client’s case, it’s important to lean on reminders and notifications so nothing falls through the cracks.

As legal software continues to evolve, the legal industry and the way that attorneys and legal professionals worldwide perform their daily workloads, It’s imperative to notice emerging trends and trends with staying power. By having a better understanding of what’s coming, you can be better prepared to incorporate new tech into your business as needed.

Here are the top legal technology trends to watch out for:


Increased Tech Spending and Adoption

Firms are more aware of the benefits that legal technology has to offer than ever before. From efficiency and productivity gains to boosts in revenue, the benefits of incorporating the latest legal technology solutions in your firm can’t be ignored. Legal budgets focused on legal tech spend are also steadily increasing. Gartner predicts that budgets will be 12% focused on legal technology spending by 2025, which is a 200% increase from 2020. 


More Focus on Client Experience

Client satisfaction is the cornerstone of a successful legal practice. Firms emphasizing a client-centric approach outperform their counterparts. By prioritizing client experience over mere profit margins, legal professionals forge lasting relationships, enhancing their reputation and ensuring a loyal clientele.

In the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market, Thomson Reuters discusses “Stay” and “Go” law firms, with Go firms being those who are set in their ways and resistant to change, while
Stay firms are those who embrace new ideas, processes, and technologies with the aim to make work better and enhance client satisfaction. As you can imagine, Stay firms were touted to be the most successful due to their adaptability and ability to effectively manage change. As client expectations change and evolve, law firms must be prepared to meet those expectations in any way they can to retain clients and remain competitive. 


Eliminating the Billable Hour

The traditional billable hour model is making way for alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), now more than ever before, out of necessity as efficiency gains render the billable hour ineffective. Fixed pricing structures and other types of fee arrangements that don’t rely on hourly time-tracking are becoming more commonplace in the legal industry. This shift fosters transparency and trust between clients and legal practitioners, encouraging collaboration and long-term partnerships.


Legal Automations

Automation is revolutionizing legal processes. Basic administrative tasks and document generation are being automated, freeing up valuable time for attorneys to focus on strategic, high-value work. By leveraging legal automation, legal professionals optimize efficiency and accuracy, leading to improved client service and increased productivity.


Proactive Cybersecurity

As digital threats become more sophisticated, proactive cybersecurity measures are paramount. Law firms are investing in robust cybersecurity protocols to safeguard sensitive client information and maintain data integrity. By staying one step ahead of cyber threats, legal practices instill confidence in their clients and uphold their professional integrity.


Legal AI

Artificial Intelligence is reshaping legal research, document analysis, and contract review. Machine learning algorithms process vast datasets, providing actionable insights and enhancing decision-making. AI for lawyers empowers attorneys to deliver precise, data-driven solutions, setting new standards for legal accuracy and efficiency.


Performance Tracking

Adopting AFAs not only enhances revenue streams but also fosters collaboration within legal teams. Performance tracking metrics allow firms to assess the effectiveness of their strategies and make data-driven decisions. By leveraging technology to measure outcomes and encourage collaboration, law firms optimize their internal processes and client interactions.

Legal Industry Pricing Trends Report 2023

Surveying legal professionals across the world, the report showcases how AFAs are contributing to increased profits for firms, better use of technology, and better work-life balance and working conditions for legal professionals.



It’s clear that the impact that legal software has had on the legal industry as a whole cannot be ignored. The legal technology market is booming and shows no signs of slowing down soon. Firms that embrace the efficiency and productivity gains that legal technology provides are sure to continue to be successful and competitive for years to come.

If you are looking for effective software to manage your Alternative Fee Arrangements, look no further than AltFee. With a focus on collaboration and an easy-to-use interface, AltFee will help your firm optimize your AFAs with all-in-one software.

Book your Demo with AltFee Today.

Start Earning More Revenue with Fixed Fees

Break free from hourly pricing and take the fear out of scoping and pricing client projects to start maximizing profitability.

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