Manage your bankruptcy law practice with this software
Last month, I wrote about litigation fact management software, which helps teams coordinate the work being done throughout the process by facilitating collaboration on case-related evidence and documents.
As I explained in that article, the reason there’s a need for such software is because litigators who work with teams in boutique firms or practice group teams in larger firms require software with very distinct features and built-in tools.
By comparison, lawyers who work in many solo, small and even some midsize firms handle many different types of law. For those firms, law practice management software is often a better fit since it’s designed to provide a broader functionality and thus meets the needs of firms with lawyers who handle a variety of types of cases.
However, when lawyers have a single practice area focus, they often need practice-area-specific case management software. This is because when lawyers handle a single practice area, they typically require unique software functionality and features that are frequently determined by court-mandated deadlines and forms. These court-specific rules necessarily affect a law firm or practice group’s workflows and processes, thus resulting in a desire for software that addresses those particular needs.
Regular readers may know that I tend to focus on cloud-based software in this column because it’s a more modern and affordable alternative to outdated and often unsupported premises-based solutions. Notably, due to a rise in demand, the number of cloud-based practice-area-specific software tools have increased significantly in recent years.
Specifically, there have been many new entrants into the market for the following types of law practices: personal injury, immigration, bankruptcy and intellectual property. For that reason, I plan to intersperse my columns throughout the rest of the year with information about these practice-area-specific software offerings in addition to covering other types of legal software.
I’m going to kick this series off by focusing on case management software for bankruptcy lawyers. This has been a burgeoning legal software category for a number of years, and there are now a few products available that cater to this practice area.
Bankruptcy practices are uniform across jurisdictions because cases filed in federal bankruptcy courts have consistent forms, procedural mechanisms and statutorily mandated filling deadlines. For that reason, this type of software typically includes features designed to streamline the petition preparation and filing process. Commonly used bankruptcy forms are often included, and built-in e-filing tools are a bonus provided by many platforms.
Bankruptcy-specific case oversight and reporting tools are another benefit of using this type of software. Finally, additional desirable functionalities typically included in this type of software are calendaring and docketing features, along with lead generation and management tools.
Let’s take a look at some of the cloud-based products available to lawyers that provide bankruptcy case management. Note that this list is not all-inclusive, but it is a selection of the more well-known software programs available.
But before we dive into tools available, it’s important to note that the software programs discussed below are cloud-based; thus, all data will be housed on servers owned by a third party. As I’ve explained in the past, whenever you entrust your law firm’s data to a third party, you have an ethical obligation to thoroughly vet the technology provider that will be hosting and storing your data.
This obligation includes ensuring you understand how the data will be handled by that company; where the servers on which the data will be stored are located; who will have access to the data; and how and when it will be backed up, among other things.
First, there’s Jubilee by LegalPRO, which was launched in 2016. Some of the more traditional case management features, such as document storage and calendaring, are included in the base-level price of this software. The entry level also includes official bankruptcy forms, and e-signature functionality is built in. A virtual bankruptcy paralegal software service is also available for an additional fee.
Speaking of fees, Jubilee offers two pricing tiers for its bankruptcy features: JubileeGo and JubileePRO. JubileeGo starts at $59 per case for two users per month. Features not included in that pricing tier include payment processing and the ability to automatically download court notices. JubileePRO is for an unlimited number of users and costs $71/month when billed monthly or $781 when billed annually. This tier includes 51 case filings per year, payment processing tools, text messaging features and court notice capabilities.
Another option to consider is NextChapter, also launched in 2016. In 2019, it was acquired by legal research company Fastcase. NextChapter offers tiered pricing plans, along with many add-ons, making it easy to create a customized setup that fits with your firm’s specific needs. All payment tiers of NextChapter include case management tools, local bankruptcy court forms and unlimited client storage. Some add-on features are included in higher pricing tiers, and for all pricing tiers, add-ons can be purchased individually for from $200 to $500 per year. Add-ons include features like text messaging, court notices, a client portal, and virtual paralegal services.
There are five pricing tiers, starting with the basic level that costs $79 per case. The top tier, called the Whoa Package, costs $1,999 per year. Because there are so many different pricing options, you’ll need to first determine your firm’s needs, then carefully sort through your pricing options to determine which one will be the best fit.
Last but not least, there’s CINcompass. CINcompass is part of CINGroup, a company that also developed the premises-based bankruptcy software product, Best Case. In 2019, CINGroup was acquired by Stretto. CINCompass’ website touts its comprehensive feature set with practice management features included at all price points. Those features include unlimited users, client intake and lead management tools, bankruptcy forms, court notifications, due diligence tools, e-filing capabilities, time tracking, and calendar and task management.
CINcompass offers three pricing tiers, all of which are available at monthly prices or reduced annual prices. The pricing tiers are very simple, and all features are included. The first tier, Standard, costs $75 per month or $825 per year for up to 10 bankruptcy filings each month. Next, there’s the Plus tier, which costs $100 per month or $1140 per year for 11-25 bankruptcy filings per month. Finally, if your firm expects to file more than 26 filings per month, you’ll need the Enterprise level and will have to call CINcompass to determine your cost.
So those are some of your options if you’re in the market for cloud-based bankruptcy software. Notably, all three companies discussed above offer a free trial of their software, which is great news. As you know if you’re a regular reader of my columns, I always advise my readers to take advantage of any free trials offered. Functionality and user interfaces vary greatly, and the only way to determine which software tool will work best for your firm is to take it for a test drive.
Additionally, to ensure a good fit, have all the stakeholders in your firm try out the software and offer their opinion. This is because if the majority of your team isn’t comfortable with the software, then they won’t use it. Once you’ve chosen the right software for your firm, and everyone is on board, the next step is firmwide training. From there, it should be smooth sailing and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of a firm equipped with modern cloud-based bankruptcy case management software.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York, attorney, author, journalist and the legal technology evangelist at MyCase, legal practice management software for small firms. She is the nationally recognized author of Cloud Computing for Lawyers and is co-author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, both published by the American Bar Association. She also is co-author of Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes regular columns for ABAJournal.com, Above the Law and the Daily Record; has authored hundreds of articles for other publications; and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Follow her on Twitter @nikiblack, or she can be reached at [email protected].