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Firm Central is Steve Little's most valuable business partner

Before Steve Little decided to open his solo legal practice, SRL Law, PLLC, in Minneapolis, he knew he needed a practice management system that was more efficient and cost-effective than the disjointed system used by the law firm he was leaving. That firm employed a small army of support staff to conduct legal research, manage casework, maintain calendars, keep track of court dates, log time and expenses, bill clients, file paperwork, and everything else. Little was only going to be an army of one, so he needed all the help he could get. A hands-on presentation of Thomson Reuters Firm Central practice-management software convinced him it might be exactly the kind of help he was looking for, and he's been using it to run his successful practice ever since.

“When I learned that document management, legal research, and billing were all integrated in Firm Central, that interested me,” Little recalls. “I wanted to have one program I could turn on in the morning and use.”

Little wanted to spend as little time as possible on the administrative side of his business so that he could concentrate his attention and energy on getting new clients and serving them better.

"When I was using three different systems for case-file document management, billing, and legal research, it took a lot more time out of my day. I wanted to have one program I could turn on in the morning and use."

Steven R. Little

"When I was using three different systems for case-file document management, billing, and legal research, it took a lot more time out of my day," Little said.

Little's legal practice is in the contract-intensive area of real estate and business law, so document management capabilities are a top priority. In particular, version control and tracking documents that were exchanged back and forth multiple times was a process Little knew he had to get a handle on.

"My old firm didn't have practice-management software," which caused problems, Little says. "If multiple attorneys worked on a document, brief, or memo, it was challenging and time-consuming to track all the changes and stay abreast of the most current version."

Business anytime, anywhere

With Firm Central on his desktop, these issues are no longer a concern for Little. Because it was developed with solo attorneys and small law firms in mind, Firm Central integrates everything a lawyer needs to manage their practice into a single, easy-to-use platform.

Furthermore, Firm Central is a cloud-based solution in which everything is stored automatically in a secure, encrypted environment accessible only to lawyers and their clients. And because it is cloud-based practice management software, Firm Central provides 24/7 access to case files, research, billing – and everything else – on any device.

"Having it in the cloud, accessible from all my devices, has been really helpful to me," Little says. "In court, I don't have to bring a briefcase full of documents, and I can access them faster on my iPad®."

Little also likes the flexibility Firm Central gives him to work anytime, anywhere. "I could be on a beach in Bermuda and be as productive as I am in my physical office downtown," he says. The mobile version of Firm Central is so well designed that "accessing Firm Central from my phone is just like being in my office."

"Having it in the cloud, accessible from all my devices, has been really helpful to me. In court, I don't have to bring a briefcase full of documents, and I can access them faster on my iPad."

Firm Central also offered easy setup, a dedicated implementation team, and 24/7 tech support, which meant no outside IT person was required. Thomson Reuters gave him all the training and support he needed to get up and running, he says. But not a lot of training was needed.

"I got Firm Central on the first day I opened my practice," Little says. "I turned on my computer that morning and was able to start using it right away. It was pretty intuitive."

Robust features and encrypted sharing

Virtually every area of Little's practice can be accessed through the software, and the interface is designed to make the complexities of day-to-day legal work easier to manage.

The robust Firm Central organizational and document management capabilities are among Little's favorite features. Not only is it easy to keep track of documents by matter and client, the software gives lawyers like Little all kinds of time-saving options.

"I really like that I can create separate folders for, say, pleadings and then for filed pleadings," Little says. "When I open something that's been accepted by the court, I just click Save and it goes directly into the correct folder I select." Legal research is another area where Firm Central saves Little a great deal of time and effort. Firm Central's integration with Westlaw allows for a seamless connection between case work and research.

"If I'm working on legal research in Westlaw and I see a case I like, I can directly save that case into the folder for my client in Firm Central," Little says.

Furthermore, since Firm Central has an encrypted sharing platform, exchanging documents and research with clients is easy through the secure client portal.

Time tracking and billing are another necessary evil that Firm Central deals with particularly well. "With Firm Central, there's a timer in the software, so if I'm working on a brief, I can keep track of how much time I'm spending on that particular project. Or when I get off the phone with someone, I can just type in the time," Little says.

When he needs to send a bill, the time spent on the client's case is already recorded and automatically imported into their invoice. "I think my clients can tell the difference," Little says. "My billing statements are timely, and they look professional. And the ability to send professionally created documents saves me and my clients so much time. I'm much more efficient."

"Firm Central has cut my overhead costs by 50%. It's a great tool for
solo practitioners. I can do everything myself, so I don't need to hire staff."

Save time and expenses

Firm Central was designed specifically to help lawyers in solo practices and small firms manage their day-to-day challenges; a way to level the playing field against larger firms with deeper pockets and more resources. Time is a lawyer's most precious resource, of course, and Firm Central helps lawyers like Little make the most of theirs.

Little started using Firm Central the day he hung out his shingle, and it has become his most valuable business partner. Not only does it save him time and money, it helps him be a better lawyer. With all of his business processes – document management, research, time tracking, billing, calendaring, forms – integrated into a single, cloud-based platform that's accessible 24/7 from any device, anywhere, Little is able to focus more of his energy and attention on his clients. In turn, he's able to serve them better. And better service, he knows, is the key to his ongoing success.

About the author

Steven R. Little is the founder and owner of SRL Law, PLLC, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he focuses his practice primarily on litigating cases involving real estate law, contract disputes, construction law, and business law, representing both individuals and business owners alike.

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