Strategic Contract Review for Case Management: Empowering Legal Success

As a legal professional who is well seasoned in checking the details, the importance of meticulously reviewing your providers contracts cannot be emphasised enough.

The foundation of smooth and successful operations lies in your keen attention to detail when it comes to these contracts, especially during the critical phases of cancellation and renewal. Beyond being routine paperwork, this pivotal process acts as an indispensable safeguard, ensuring the stability, efficiency, and long-term success of your legal practice.

When it comes to checking contracts, consider it a solemn responsibility, not just a mere formality. Dedicate time to diligently examine the terms, stipulations, and expiration dates of these contracts. By doing so, you can mitigate potential risks and protect the interests of all parties involved, bolstering your credibility and reputation as a reliable legal professional.

Timely and attentive cancellation of contracts holds immense significance in the realm of case management. Your ability to respond promptly to shifting circumstances by proactively addressing contract termination minimises conflicts and disappointment when it comes to leaving your provider. We recommend establishing your cancellation terms and how much notice you must provide to avoid hefty cancellation fees, especially on rolling auto renew and per monthly contracts.

On the other hand, the meticulous renewal of contracts heralds new opportunities for collaboration and shared success. Through a comprehensive review process, you can identify areas for improvement and tailor your legal services to accommodate evolving client needs, thereby solidifying your position as a leader within the legal industry. If you do enter a renewals process with your provider, make sure to mark a date in your calendar at least 6 months prior to your renewal date. This gives you an opportunity to review your relationship with your provider, price increases and plenty of time to search the market for an alternative.

While the importance of this practice may appear evident, our experience as a case management software provider has revealed a myriad of firms that found themselves in unfortunate situations. These circumstances arose either due to insufficient contract scrutiny or, regrettably, due to disappointments from their existing suppliers. Instances of abrupt price hikes and inadequate customer support have compelled firms to hastily send out an SOS call and connect with new providers, while absent customer service has resulted in unintended contract renewals, exacerbating the challenges of transitioning. In the gravest scenarios, certain firms have even subscribed to two systems concurrently, resulting in team struggles to acclimate, data loss or confusion, heightened regulatory pressures, and substantial setup and ongoing costs.

Even if you’re on the ball with your contract and renewals, your software provider might not want to play ball. We’ve experienced some case management systems actively making it hard  for firms to extract their data for transitioning. The ways we’ve encountered case management systems doing this are:

Remarkably, a widely recognised and sizable software provider offers data downloads, albeit on a case-by-case basis. This would make anyone leap to the conclusion that this approach is impractical due to the considerable volume of ongoing and past cases even within a modest-sized firm.

One of the most advanced tactics involves intentionally delaying responses. Previously, you might have enjoyed efficient customer service interactions, but when it comes to transitioning or cancelling your contract, the experience can take an unexpected turn. It’s possible that you’ve encountered an unresponsive customer service representative, and it’s important to note that you’re not alone in this frustration. Such a situation can be particularly exasperating, especially when confronted with an imminent auto-renewal that would extend your contract by one, two, or five years.

Another instance we’ve come across involves furnishing a file in a format that might be suitable for your new case management provider but proves impractical for your own use. For instance, your current provider might supply your data in a database  file format, which could be ideal for a bulk upload with your new provider. However, if you’ve opted for a hands-on  approach to your case  management migration, this format might not align with your requirements.

Last but not least, the dreaded unexpected fees. It’s essential to ensure that, even in the best-case scenario, you won’t encounter unexpected charges for data downloads or retrieval, administrative fees, or early termination costs. Another industry surprise is that a second well known software provider charges £2,500 for a data backup, and this is not uncommon for other providers either.

If this rings true for you, or if you’re going through a difficult transition period, there are things you can do to relieve stress and get your desired results.

If you’re having difficulty extracting your data from your current system, or they keep trying to pass the buck back to you or your new provider, we recommend seeing if they are registered with the Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA). If so, as part of their membership with the LSSA, have agreed to follow a code of conduct which states, “Members must recognise the right of customers to move between software systems and facilitate such moves with provision of customers’ data in a reasonable timescale and at reasonable cost.” There is a much more comprehensive breakdown of what’s entailed on the same page and can be downloaded as a PDF.

An additional measure involves engaging with your prospective software provider. They could offer valuable insights and tools to facilitate a smooth transition process, alleviating potential stress. A reputable supplier will readily provide transparent and candid information regarding their contract terms, outlining what is both reasonable and adaptable to your specific circumstances.

While this may involve extra expenses, if you hold apprehensions about potential irregularities that could lead to regulatory violations, seeking the assistance of a Practice Manager could prove beneficial. They can supervise or manage the transition, review and scrutinise contracts, and offer guidance on potential avenues for additional support.

In conclusion, the diligence and thoroughness with which you approach your case management provider contracts play an indispensable role in the seamless functioning of your legal practice. By recognising the significance of these contracts, from cancellation and renewal procedures to data extraction and transition, you empower yourself to navigate potential challenges with poise and efficiency.

Remember, your commitment to contractual scrutiny is not just a formality but a safeguard against unforeseen pitfalls. The complexities of today’s legal landscape demand meticulous attention to detail to ensure the stability, credibility, and prosperity of your practice.

In the end, your dedication to contractual awareness and decision-making empowers you to uphold your professional reputation, adapt to evolving needs, and secure the success of your legal enterprise. By embracing these practices and seeking the support you need, you position yourself for a future of resilience, innovation, and growth.

We’re very open about our contracts and terms of service.  Want to see Hoowla in action? You can book a free, no-obligation demo here.

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