I write a lot about new technologies in the legal field. On the other hand, I'm admittedly not one who adopts new technology merely for its own sake. I will typically refrain from using technologies that fail to present an immediate benefit to my practice – with the most recognized benefit being making my job easier.
Simply put, I won't use new technology that doesn't immediately save me time or energy.
A lot of advancements tout the ability to reduce time and energy that a lawyer expends, but this hasn't been the case for the vast majority of new technologies I try out. Maybe I don't give the particular technology enough of an opportunity. Or maybe I'm particularly lazy. But, most of the time, the new technology just adds another step in my workflow without significantly reducing my effort.
As you can probably guess by now, I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to new technologies and their claims of making my job as an attorney easier.
I approached Thomson Reuters Firm Central with the same skepticism. When Thomson Reuters approached me to write a review I initially thought, “Here's another new technology that I'll use for a week or two, and then forget about because it will be too much of a hassle.”
Well, I'm happy to report that I was wrong.
Firm Central truly is one of those rare legal management software tools that actually makes your life as a practicing attorney easier.
How does Firm Central accomplish this? It's basically an office assistant which lives in the cloud and provides:
This simple list doesn't begin to explain what Firm Central can actually do, so in this post and the next, I'll explain its functions in more detail.
Firm Central is Accessible and User-Friendly
One of the aspects of Firm Central that I found immediately appealing was that you can access it from anywhere by just going to its easy-to-remember login page: firmcentral.westlaw.com. You're then brought to the home page. With just a mouse click, you can access any feature of Firm Central from here.
The folks at Thomson Reuters don't just throw you into the deep end once you get signed up for Firm Central; You can actually schedule a call with them to walk you through the solution and provide training. And that training isn't an added cost. The individual who helped me was quite thorough (although I'm fairly certain that she had no idea that I was going to be writing about my experience).
In any case, the website is very accessible, and help is very easy to find if you have any questions.
Firm Central Matter Management
The matter management feature is one of the most significant offerings of Firm Central because it deals with every feature on the bulleted list above. So I'll provide a general overview of it and cover each function in more detail in my second blog post.
You can access all of your cases by clicking on the “matters” tab on the top navigation bar. From there you can:
Once you click open one of your cases, you are brought to a screen that looks like this:
It gives you the basics about the case at the top left. The main screen offers valuable tools to help you better manage your case.
I personally find this section extremely helpful:
Also, if you work in a larger firm with many potential users, you can limit their access to matter details in varying degrees.
Want to see the uploaded documents related to this matter? Go to the “Recent Documents” section. It includes saved research from Westlaw, which links directly to Firm Central. (The second part of this review provides more detail about how you can save research directly from Westlaw.) If you want to see all of the documents of every client, go to the documents tab within the black navigation bar at the top of the page.
Access your calendar schedule for this matter from the “calendar” tab. If you want to view your entire calendar for every matter, go to the calendar tab within the black navigation bar at the top of the page.
As you can see, the Firm Central matter management function is valuable on its own when it comes to keeping cases organized in a central, easy-to-access location. In the next blog post, I delve directly into additional Firm Central practice management functions, which all integrate nicely into the matter management feature.
A solo attorney explains why a practice management system is worth the investment and how Firm Central allowed her to operate efficiently.
A criminal law office explains why they chose Firm Central for their legal practice management software.