There’s a new tablet-based case management system in town aiming to dethrone some of the big boys. Of course, that probably won’t happen, but CaseManager ($20.00) from Goodcase Apps Ltd, is certainly a contender.
When Goodcase Apps’, John Upton contacted me about reviewing their new Android app, I was skeptical, at best, on the quality. “We’ve seen this before,” I thought. But I opted for my free copy to test.
Quite simply, CaseManager will amaze you with its simplistic function and beauty.
It’s worth your time (and money)
I would have never invested money in other practice and case management systems if CaseManager was around when I started my practice. The program is highly functional, significantly detailed, and allows the user to perform a wide variety of tasks, all from a mobile device.
CaseManager has a simplistic setup that displays a button view of all of the cases in your portfolio.
Handling multiple matters
Of course, if you’re trying to manage a large number of clients or matters, CaseManager might not be a good option. The matters sort alphabetically in a scrolling manner, so you’d have to scroll through the full list of cases. If there’s a search feature, I couldn’t find it.
I’m very enamored with CaseManager’s intelligently-designed UI. The features feel responsive, and the company seems to have devoted a significant amount of time designing a useful app for lawyers. You’ll find all of the main features, such as a calendar, contacts, and outlay of facts.
CaseManager connects with Dropbox to store and backup your case information. This alleviates — or minimizes — one of my chief concerns about tablet-based case management systems. I’m always wary of systems that do not allow you to back up your files, or do not have methods to repair mistakes.
Finding your Dropbox files in the folder is slightly confusing because of how Android and Dropbox interact. I found my CaseManager files in my Apps > CaseManageApplication folder inside Dropbox.
Syncing with Dropbox also means you can take your cases across different mobile and desktop ecosystems. CaseManager works on Windows and iOS machines. Thus, you can access the information in CaseManager from any location.
Adding the document to sync is just as easy.
And once added, the documents appear inside of the matter with your designated name.
John tells me that you can save almost any type of document — .pdf, .doc, .xls, .docx, .png, .ppt, .pptx, .png, and .txt — though I had difficulty saving anything other than a PDF document.
Some cool and unique features
One of the coolest features in this app is the ability to add a handwritten note to an event.
Obviously, the feature lacks some quality, but it’s a handy tool to have.
Time and billing
CaseManager also features a billing/timer system that helps you keep track of the work you’re performing and prepare invoices for delivery. The system works well.
I had one issue with the timer, which John helped clarify: do not press “Home” or the multi-tasking window (both in the lower left-hand corner) before you press the close “X” in the right-hand corner. If you do, all of your time will stop. “Closing” the timer will allow you to multi-task (read a brief, check email,
play Angry Birds) and continue to bill.
You can easily generate a bill from your work by pressing any “PDF” icon in the upper right-hand corner.
Remember the save location — storage > emulated > 0 > CaseManager to recover your document and attach it. I had a little trouble with this.
What’s wrong with this picture?
I did have one major issue, which caused the typing input to freeze after pressing the back button. I think this flaw is most likely related to Google Keyboard more than anything else. That said, I was able to recreate the error on 3 of 5 devices (2 were not running Google Keyboard), and the problem was quite annoying, and caused me to force close the app.
Also, CaseManager currently lacks the ability to add contacts/clients from your device’s current list of contact, though that element will be in development. Incidentally, CaseManager will add contacts to your default device contacts, saving you a second entry. Of course, if they’re in your default contacts folder and not backed up elsewhere, they won’t be saved in the event of a catastrophie. Yes, you will likely be able to recover those contacts from CaseManager.
Similarly, items entered on the calendar do not appear on the device calendar or on Google Calendar. A major flaw for Google users who keep their appointments via their device. Obviously, without syncing to Google Calendar you’re not going to have a connection to Google Now or other helpful Android programs.
Also, CaseManager currently only syncs with one Dropbox account, thereby restricting or limiting the use to one person. Not very convenient for anyone but a solo. If there’s a way to circumvent this, I couldn’t find it.
“That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
CaseManager works well out of the box. If you’re using Dropbox and a mobile device, you’re going to like this app. As I noted earlier, CaseManager isn’t as robust of a case management system as others on the market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it. I think attorneys who practice estate planning, criminal law, and perhaps family law will love this app. Cases that are document-heavy, fact/information-intense, or relationship crucial, probably will not work well with this system. Of course, I’ve been wrong before.
Overall, I give CaseManager 4 of 5 stars. Certainly $20 well spent. You can check out all of the features, and download your Windows copy, by visiting the CaseManager site.
Update 10/23/13: This article won the SmallLaw Pick of the Week. SmallLaw is a free weekly email newsletter that provides helpful information for solo practitioners and those who manage and work in small firms. Check out the SmallLaw site for more information or to subscribe.
Oh, and I fixed the broken links to the images. Now, if you click the image you should see a larger view.