Legal software has been around for decades. But until recently, its main claim to fame was functionality. That may have been adequate in the past, but mere function alone doesn’t cut it in a modern world that relies on computers and networks for nearly everything. The mediocre legal software of the past must be overhauled to make it great.
Function is still at the core of legal software as evidenced by exceptional case management software packages like NuLaw. But it exists behind the scenes. In other words, lawyers do not really care how smart contracts and other automated tools make billing and invoicing so easy. They don’t need to know, either.
Lawyers need a simple and efficient way to enter the information their software uses for billing and invoicing. This simple truth brings us to the one thing developers can do to make mediocre legal software great: create an exceptional user interface (UI) for attorneys, support staff, and clients alike.
No Bloat, Please
The starting point for creating a great UI is to determine what features different users actually need. The key operating word here is ‘need’. Why? Because creating a truly useful UI requires a commitment to a ‘no bloat’ mindset.
Do you use an office suite on a regular basis? If so, are there a ton of features in your package you never use? Bloat is a big problem with commercial software. Developers load up their applications with tons of features that will never be used. This is no way to create a UI for legal software.
A better way is to include only those features that are absolutely necessary to get the job done. Furthermore, needs differ among users. So you create a portal that can be customized to each group. Attorneys get one set of features, support staff get another, and clients get a third set customized to their needs.
Make It Easy to Use
The next step in producing great legal software is to make it easy to use. If you do not understand why, look no further than the medical industry. The medical industry has been wrestling with electronic health record (EHR) systems for nearly a decade now. One of the chief complaints among doctors and nurses is that EHR software is too complicated, forcing them to spend too much time on data entry and not enough time with their patients.
The legaltech industry would do well to not make the same mistake. Making mediocre legal software great means making it easy to use. Ignore ease-of-use issues and you are going to have a hard time selling your software to law firms.
Make it Easy on the Eyes
Last but not least, a truly great legal software package is easy on the eyes. It does not shock users with obnoxious colors. It does not cause eye strain by way of fonts that are too small or text colors that cannot be seen. It doesn’t present the user with visual distractions that have nothing to do with the task at hand.
The fact is we all spend an inordinate amount of time staring at screens. All this screen time creates fatigue and eye strain. As such, a legal software package that is difficult to look at all day is one that will make for unhappy users. On the other hand, a package that is easy on the eyes is one that users might actually enjoy using.
And now you know how to make mediocre legal software great. It’s too bad that only a small handful of developers are actually doing so.