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Battle of the Cloud-Based Practice Management Software (Part 3): Rocket Matter

For round two of our Battle Of The Cloud-Based Practice Management Software series, we’re digging into the functionality of Rocket Matter. As I had done with Clio, I created a simulated client in Rocket Matter and ran it from intake through termination. I then evaluated the software in terms of its price point, my overall experience including ease of the user interface, compatibility with other popular software programs, and other useful features.

As I stated before, my experiences so far with ClioRocket Matter, and MyCase suggest that each of the three pieces of software are fine options for firms of any size. However, they each offer slightly different user experiences, different price points, and compatibility with different popular pieces of third party software. So instead of recommending any one of the three pieces of software specifically, my goal is to provide you with enough information to help you decide which is the right choice for your practice.

Price

Relative to Clio and MyCase, Rocket Matter is the premium option in terms of price. Rocket Matter charges a standard $59.99 for the first user regardless of the user’s position. Users 2 – 6 are $49.99 a month. It’s certainly worth noting that the rate for the first user can be discounted down to $53.99 a month if you pay quarterly instead of monthly; to $50.99 a month if you pay yearly; and to $47.99 a month if you renew every two years. For the purpose of comparison, Clio is priced at $49 per month per attorney and $25 per month per support staff. MyCase is $39 per month per attorney and $29 a month for paralegals and support staff. In other words, with a two year commitment Rocket Matter actually costs less than Clio for a solo practitioner (although MyCase remains the cheapest option of them all). Like their competitors, Rocket Matter offers a free 30-day trial. Clio and MyCase do not require a credit card in order to enjoy the free trial, but Rocket Matter does.

Training

After signing up for an account with Rocket Matter I received an email from a member of their team to schedule a training session. I appreciated the fact that they were willing to schedule a training session in a time that worked for me instead of simply providing a list of available sessions. With that said, the scheduling did not proceed without a few problems. First, I was told that we could proceed the following day and that we only needed to agree on a time. Although I sent an immediate reply indicating my preferred time slot (11:30 a.m.), no response was received until late the following day after the time I had selected had already passed. Then when we finally selected a new time for the training session, I was sent an email with a conference ID for the training session. When I called in to the training session the room was empty. After waiting 15 minutes past our scheduled meeting time, I disconnected. Shortly thereafter I received an apologetic email from Rocket Matter explaining that they had made an error on their end related to the conference ID. After agreeing to call back in, the training session proceeded smoothly.

Mistakes happen and I have no reason to think that these mistakes are reflective of Rocket Matter’s overall customer service. Indeed, the training session itself was excellent. Because it was a one-on-one training session with a live person, it was easy to focus on the functionality and features I was most interested in while skipping past features I already felt comfortable with. Subsequently I was sent an email with a list of scheduled webinars for product demonstrations for further training.

User Experience & Functionality

Like each of it’s competitors that I’m examining, Rocket Matter is operated through your browser. It’s optimized for use in IE, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. Like its competitors, Rocket Matter offers a number of security features. For example, all communications between your browser and Rocket Matter run over channels with 128-bit encryption. They also utilize data isolation which means that your data is not stored on the same table as another firm. Additionally, your user data is backed-up continuously over the day with geographic redundancy (i.e. in multiple locations). Also, as with Clio, Rocket Matter is McAfee secured.

In my opinion, Rocket Matter’s user interface was the most attractive and intuitive. At the top of the screen there is a prominent search bar. As you enter in a contact name, matter name, or tag, associated results appear as you type. It’s an easy way to find a matter or client in seconds. Your calendar events appear below that, and your upcoming tasks appear beneath the calendar. Along the right column you have the option to “view firm calendar,” “view my tasks,” “view open matters (or add a new matter),” “view contacts (or add a new contact),” or “add documents.”

What I really liked about Rocket Matter was how easy it is to create billable entries. In the upper right hand corner it prominently displays how much you’ve billed that day, week, or month. When I was an associate this was the number I worried about day in and day out.

It’s clear that they’ve put a lot of thought into the billing aspects of the software. In general, it’s incredibly easy to capture billable entries directly from your calendar or tast list. If you click on a calendar entry, it opens that entry up to provide the details of the event. From here you can edit the entry, add attendees, and/or mark the matter as billable. Similarly, pending tasks from your task list can also be sent directly to billing. A green dollar sign appears to the right of each task entry. When you click on that dollar sign you can then enter in the time spent on an individual project and then easily send it to billing. Indeed, across the platform Rocket Matter makes it easy to bill directly from each tool. Any green-highlighted box you encounter in Rocket Matter can be sent directly to your billing.

As with Clio and MyCase, Rocket Matter allows for 2 way syncing with your Google Calendar. This means that entries you create in Google Calendar will automatically appear in Rocket Matter, and vice versa. Although you can’t also automatically sync your contacts from Google through Rocket Matter, they do provide simple instructions for exporting those contacts through Gmail or Outlook and then importing them into Rocket Matter. It’s very easy and straight-forward. Importing your contacts makes it very easy to associate clients with new matters. It also makes it easy to associate other related contacts with a matter. By linking all relevant contacts with a matter, you can later run easy conflict searches directly through Rocket Matter.

Invoicing and billing was also exceptionally easy in Rocket Matter. Pending invoicing appears in green in the bottom right corner of the screen. From there you can access your billing dashboard and easily prepare automated invoices.

Rocket Matter offers pretty good document storage as well. Like Clio, Rocket Matter offers unlimited storage space for subscribers. And adding documents to a matter is incredibly easy. You just drag and drop as many documents as you’d like into a matter at a time. The only major limitation of this document storage that I found is that you can’t upload pictures, videos and audio files. For comparison, Clio does allow you to upload these file types. I think it matters. After all, it’s not at all uncommon to have pictures and videos stored to a file.

I was really excited to see that Rocket Matter offers document integration with both Evernote and Dropbox. As someone who organizes all of my work through Evernote, I was especially happy to see this feature. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I would have liked. First, I found it to be a little difficult to figure out how to connect my Evernote account in the first place. Once I did connect it, I didn’t receive any messages informing me that I had successfully linked the accounts. This left me uncertain as to whether I had successfully connected the software.

Once you are in a matter, you can add an Evernote notebook to that matter by clicking “Set Evernote notebook.” You then simply type in the name of the notebook you want to associate with that account. This part was extremely easy, but I did encounter two problems once I had done this. First, several of the notes from my connected Notebook did not import to Rocket Matter. In fact, none of my notes that I’d created in the past month had imported. Second, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to update or sync the list of documents to include newly saved notes from Evernote. Although I’m glad to see that they offer the integration (which wasn’t available at all through Clio and MyCase), it felt somewhat incomplete.

Next, Rocket Matter was the first of the three cloud-based practice management tools to offer automated document assembly. At this point in time, they all offer this feature. In addition to the pre-made fields in Rocket Matter, you can create custom fields for the document assembly feature so that you don’t have to manually change as many fields. As I stated in my Clio review, it’s not a feature I’d anticipate using frequently because of the time it would require to create templates and set up each of the necessary merge fields. If you don’t take the time to set up each field, then you’ll still have to go in and carefully edit the document anyways. For me, this would somewhat defeat the purpose of using automated document assembly in the first place. For the record, I feel the same way about this functionality in Clio and MyCase.

Finally, Rocket Matter is mobile device friendly. In fact, Rocket Matter is optimized for use on the iPhone/iPad, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, Android, and modern Blackberries.

Conclusion

Rocket Matter is another excellent option for attorneys seeing excellent cloud-based practice management software for their practice. It’s attractive, intuitive, and easy to use. In terms of capturing billable time entries, it is my favorite of the three programs I tested. However, it is also the most expensive of the three pieces of software.

Rocket Matter offers convenient integration with Google Apps, Evernote, and Dropbox. They don’t provide direct integration with Quickbooks, but they do provide easy instructions for sharing data with Quickbooks.

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