Juggernaut number 2 in the legal case management arena is definitely MyCase. This relatively new startup is gaining a reputation for being a well-balanced and fully operational product. MyCase is definitely doing all of the right things to help attorneys manage their clients’ matters. MyCase and Clio get selected as my choice for the two best case management programs available today.
What you’ll love about MyCase
Importing client data
MyCase provided the easiest way to move my client matters from PracticeMaster into the MyCase system. Although I did need to “massage” the data a little, I could basically cut and paste information from my CSV file into MyCase’s spreadsheet. Cutting, pasting, and importing data took me about 30 minutes to complete. I was expecting more downtime, but I was able using the MyCase system (with my client data) in under an hour. This was very helpful in making me fall in love with this cloud program.
MyCase has a great looking invoice, which is automatically forwarded to your client when you press “Send.” My clients preferred the look and feel of the MyCase invoice over Clio’s invoice, though I think they both looked similar.
MyCase also integrates a payment portal where you can accept online payments via PayPal or a credit card processor. (I didn’t test the credit card processing, but I understand there are reasonable rates.) MyCase also makes billing easy by listing your matters and giving you a
Tracking time is very easy with the “Start Timer” button in the lower right corner of the screen.
My only complaint about the timer is that the timer entry screen only appears after you press “Stop.” This confused me on a couple of instances, especially when I quickly moved to another task, but I quickly got used to the process.
The Authenticator app generates a security key necessary to access the MyCase program.
MyCase also features a time out setting. Enabling this setting forces MyCase to log you out of the program after 90 minutes. This is particularly useful if you share devices.
My clients actually preferred the MyCase client portal — aesthetics more than anything — above any other system. MyCase sends each client a notification that grants access to the client matter. Administrators can turn client access to MyCase on or off with the switch of a button. Disabling access prevents a contact from logging in to the system, and any document sharing.
Similarly, clients receive a notification whenever you share a document. All of my clients who used the portal commented ease and connectivity they felt.
MyCase is definitely the least expensive case management program. The program is $39 per month for attorneys and $29 per month for paralegals or staff.
If you’re on a budget, MyCase is highly appealing. However, I wouldn’t expect this price model to last for too long.
Where MyCase needs help
Instead of making a direct API link from MyCase to your Google account, the program uses a third-party link to transfer calendar information. Unfortunately, you’ll end up with two different calendars, one for MyCase and one associated with your Google account.
That’s not too big of an issue, except you either have to only display the MyCase calendar, or work (and remember which calendar to enter) with two different calendars. Note too, if you use Google Calendar on your phone, you’ll need to uncheck or unsync the main calendar to ensure you’re entering the right information. More than anything, this is a hassle.
The lack of a direct link to Google also means you can’t use and associate files in Google Drive (or Docs, Sheets, and Slides). MyCase has a rudimentary document processor, but I found it lacks some of the more robust word processing abilities of Word or Docs. You probably won’t miss the file storage ability, since MyCase and the client portal allow you to store and upload any number of files.
Similarly, when you generate a document, you’ll download an MS Word file. Normally this isn’t an issue, except if you’re using a Chromebook or tablet, without access to Word. In this case, I simply downloaded a local copy, then uploaded the document to Google Docs for final editing.
MyCase does a decent job of assembling documents, but you’ll have to use some specific merge codes to make them work properly. This is time consuming (and you’ll do this with every other program), which means that I have to convert my current (previously coded) templates to the MyCase format. I’m going to opt to use a virtual assistant to make this task much easier.
I also found that MyCase’s document assembly program isn’t extensive enough to manage more complex documents. PracticeMaster includes a unique contact lookup feature you can use to select a contact (company or individual) even if they’re not associated with a case. For instance, I could select a business’s name from the search list and use that information in lieu of a specific individual. MyCase, for whatever reason, forces me to specify an individual at the company to add as a contact on the document. If you send enough letters, you’ll know that there are plenty of unknown contacts at companies.
No more file numbers
I really miss my automatically-generated file numbers. If you’re coming from a system that uses a file numbering format, then you’ll miss this feature, too. However, the more you use these cloud-based case management programs, the more you discover that a numbering system isn’t too necessary. The search functions are fast and accurate, which means you’re able to find case information quickly.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want my file numbers.
Accounting functions are one of my big, go to needs for a new practice management system. Unfortunately, none of the systems, including MyCase, fared well in the accounting category. The best part of PracticeMaster is the fact that it also integrates with a billing program (Tabs3), an accounts payable and general ledger program (Accounts Payable/General Ledger), and a trust account program (Trust Accounting).
MyCase has built-in billing (and a well-designed invoicing system), but its back-office features need substantial improvement. MyCase does integrate with Quickbooks (a bonus), but the setup cost of $99 will discourage any users from integrating immediately. Also, Quickbooks online ($26.95 per month) and Quickbooks Pro ($173.99) are added expenses. Admittedly, there are other accounting programs available (even some free ones), but you’ll probably end up having to enter information two times.
Updated (10/10/14): Telephone Support
I accidentally (kind of on purpose) locked myself out of MyCase. The lockout screen instructs the user to contact MyCase support at an 800 number.
I followed the instruction, called the number, and found I couldn’t connect — “We’re sorry, nobody is available…please leave a message” — despite being instructed otherwise. I called back a second time, and spoke with a support agent who informed me I needed to send an email — the address is email@example.com — requesting that MyCase disabled two-factor authentication. That was 60 minutes ago, and I’m still waiting. Obviously, I’m lost if I’m really depending on support to get me back online.
Close, but not quite
Overall, MyCase is one of the best cloud-based case management systems available. If you’re looking to convert to a cloud-based system, MyCase must be on your radar. But hopefully you’ve also gleaned that MyCase is not a true practice management system; it’s very much a case management program that hinges on practice management brilliance. Compared to my current program, MyCase is a 4 of 10, in its practice management capabilities. MyCase will handle most (8 of 10) of your front office needs, but lacks the ability to integrate fully for back office performance.
Note: I chose MyCase as the “winner” and my choice to replace my PracticeMaster as my practice management system.
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I received some comments and questions on my decision to select MyCase, and I thought it’d be appropriate to explain them.
Jeff [you] rated the winner as Mycase with a 4/10 score, scaled to what PracticeMaster does currently for [your] firm. If that’s the winner, well let’s just say it’s not a compelling argument to move to the cloud just yet. To be honest, that sounds like a lot to give up just to be in the cloud. 60% functionality just to be mobile? I’d rather access my desktop via TeamViewer, or Parallels Access.
Yes I did. That does seem like a huge drop in “satisfaction” when compared with my other system, but there are also some “soft” costs that weighed heavily in my decision.
First, I’d like to totally remove myself from the management and maintenance aspect of the case management system. Currently, I have to perform all of the system backups (or pay for a remote server at $100/month), verify the system backups, and perform all system maintenance. That’s a lot of work to worry about, which is my primary motivation for getting into the cloud. Ditching software also means that I can ditch most of my hardware. I keep my desktop system, but ditch my bulkier “file server” and get my data via my web browser.
Second, I really want to become more mobile and not have to rely on a base system back at the office. Becoming more mobile means that I can work from any location (which also means ditching an office), and utilize different tools to communicate with clients and serve their needs. I could work remotely via TeamViewer or another program, but the process is difficult and too often, inconvenient.
Third, my clients really like MyCase’s client portal. This gives them quick access to information (versus storing in Dropbox or Google Drive; which also has its problems) and requires no extra materials or programs.
Why would you go with a program that seems so inadequate for your needs? Especially considering accounting.
None of the programs work well at accounting, period. I really considered the factors above, and also considered the fact that 1) I can still use my previous accounting program, and 2) Quickbooks software and online does a decent (not convenient) job of handling my accounting. Plus, there are a number of other accounting systems, which I’m also investigating, that could handle my needs.