A client portal is a secure way of collaborating and communicating with clients on an ongoing case file. Many law firms seek to incorporate client portals into their business structure because it saves time on having to email documents back and forth with clients or having paralegals input information that can be done directly by the client. As we all know, legal files can comprise of a very heavy file load - by allowing clients to upload relevant documents pertaining to their case (such as any evidentiary documents, correspondences, statements, bills, etc.), you can ensure that all of the documents relevant to their case remains in one structured place that is easily accessible. Instead of having a lawyer or paralegals work on reviewing, approving and inputting documents or information into the client’s file, the lawyer is able to contact the client by email or by phone to request certain documents have the client input this information on their end. Some client portals even offer e-signature features that avoid scheduling conflicts when it comes to receiving quick approvals and avoiding delays. This can save you time that would typically be spent on administrative or management tasks that can now be better spent elsewhere. To gain a better understanding about which client portals are on the market currently and how they compare in features and price, check out our marketplace.
What is it?
Client portals in general tend to centralize a number of operations (case management, communication, document automation, etc.) in order to ensure that it is well organized, accessible and safely stored in one place. These services allow clients to use their own login credentials to sign into the portal and view the ongoing progress of their cases online. Client portals usually offer different levels of collaboration on the client's end to ensure that the lawyer has control over what the client can modify or collaborate on, such as: uploading files, creating new files, adding notes/comments, etc. Within these client portals, lawyers can create precedent libraries, have access to court form automation features, contract review, and/or case management depending on the provider.
While clients typically have access to their own file on the client portal, the administrator (lawyer or law firm) will have a different view of the portal in order to keep track of different ongoing cases, tasks, communications and recent activity. The manner in which the client can access the portal can differ from one provider to the next, but generally speaking, the lawyer will either send them the link to create a profile via the providers website, or some law firms will incorporate a link to the portal via their own firm website and have the client sign in from there.
This type of client portal software will ensure that all client correspondences on any given matter remain in one place for easy and effective collaboration - giving clients the peace of mind of seeing the progress of their case from their own device/s.
Types of Client Portals: Main or Added Feature
Currently, there exists two types of client portals. The first type is software that is built with a client portal as its core feature and selling points. The other type is software with a core feature like document automation, contract review, or a case management system that also has a client portal as an added feature for the client’s convenience and for further collaboration purposes.
Typically, the client portal software that falls under the ‘added feature’ category starts with a given purpose, such as document automation, case management or contract review, for any given area of law and subsequently adds on the client portal feature as a way to allow clients to begin inputting their own data instead of having the lawyer continuing to do so. A provider who has added on the client portal as a feature implies that the service is less extensive, making its purpose and functions more particular to the initial purpose of the software’s service. Whereas a company whose client portal is their main selling point will likely have more integrations with a wider range of systems that are more customizable.
How Do I Decide?
The question then focuses on your needs and how specific they may be. For instance, if you are looking to offer estate planning or drafting services, while seeking to have clients input their own data, then a supplier like Estateably or eState Planner may be a good fit for you because their niche is concentrated on wills, trusts and estates, specifically. However, if you are looking to onboard clients in other practice areas more efficiently then you would need a service that is more similar to Rally or Moxo, for instance, in order to take advantage of other client portal benefits like workflow management, communication and onboarding.
In so many words, software offering client portals as the main purpose can be seen as the one-stop-shop of client portals, given their tendency to offer more integrations to fulfill more general needs (case management, document automation, e-signing, communication, etc.), rather than offering a very specific service in a specific practice area (estate planning, real estate contract review and document automation, family law finance calculations, etc.).
At the end of the day, the distinction between a provider whose main focus is a client portal versus an added feature is not crucial, nor does it suggest that one is better than the other. The importance of understanding the difference between the two will simply help inform your decision when it comes to finding the client portal software that will best suit your needs - whether they be precise or more exhaustive/broad ones.
Examples Of Legal Software On the Market
Software: Moxo by Moxtra
Type of Portal: Main purpose
Short Description: Moxo manages client interactions allowing businesses to
streamline deadline-driven interactions, account onboarding, servicing and handling as well as updating and managing workflows.
Type of Portal: Main purpose
Short Description: client portal software that white labels collaborative workspace, uses
automation technologies to automate legal documents, manage cases, onboarding and
track further corporate information.
Type of Portal: Add on
Short Description: Allows you to fill out court forms, precedents, and template letters
for estate and trusts. They centralize the workspace to manage tasks, further
enabling streamline workflows and generating reports that are put through a built-in
Software: eState Planner
Type of Portal: Add on
Short Description: Collaborative estate and wills planning portal that generates
financial and will planning documents, visual reports, asset calculations, scenario planning and much more based on the clients’ estate and will planning needs.
Type of Portal: Main Purpose
Short Description: Legal practice management software that offers a centralized portal
for client and case management, time tracking, billing, expense management, payment
processing, calendaring, and much more for law firms.
Type of Portal: Add on
Short Description: Primarily a case management software that has additional features,
such as their Clio for Clients client portal, which facilitates lawyer-client communication
and document sharing.
To explore and compare different types of client portals, their functions and their price points, please check out our marketplace. We list only software and suppliers with price points suitable for solo lawyers and small firms (1-5 fees earners). You can search our listings by practice area or use case to find suppliers in a quick and efficient manner. By comparing and contrasting the different functionalities of each software, we hope to find the best fit for you, your needs and your budget.