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Evaluating Legal Aid Case Management Software

In late 2019, Legal Aid of Wyoming (LAWYO) received some startling news: the company that provided their case management software was going out of business.

Legal Aid of Wyoming logo.

LAWYO, which maintains five offices providing legal assistance to low-income individuals living in Wyoming, was suddenly at a crossroads. They could either try to keep their legacy system going with a private contractor attempting to maintain and support it, or look for a new case management system (CMS).

After careful reflection, the organization concluded that using a contractor would only delay the inevitable need for a new CMS. Thus, the search began.

LegalServer, or Something Else?

LAWYO evaluated three software vendors, including LegalServer. Based on price alone, LegalServer was more expensive than the others. However, multiple factors needed to be considered to determine total cost of ownership (TCO) - not to mention how well the software would meet LAWYO’s needs.

Option 1: A Genuine Antique

The first alternative (“Option 1”) was geared toward legal aid, but the technology was old. The vendor was unlikely to invest further in the platform, and what’s more, most legal programs that used this system in the past had since migrated to LegalServer.

This antiquated system also lacked many of the features of LegalServer - such as online intake and SMS text messaging. Option 1 was quickly ruled out of the running.

Option 2: Contractors Galore & Sluggish Performance

LAWYO spent a lot of time evaluating “Option 2”, a platform most known for working with for-profit law firms, and only recently attempted to enter the legal aid market. After a thorough evaluation and trial, LAWYO discovered the problem with this software is that they act as a base program that adds different private contractors to the mix. For example, to have an online intake (where potential clients apply for services via the LAWYO website), LAWYO would have to pay an independent organization to provide that functionality, at a separate contract cost.

The same was discovered with timekeeping and text messaging: separate, independent contracts LAWYO would have to enter into to provide various services.

The demos with Option 2 showed compatibility issues and lag times with the various independent software companies that had to be integrated. It quickly became obvious to LAWYO that if they were to go with this option that the cost would exceed what they’d pay to have LegalServer - not to mention the logistics of keeping track of several independent contracts with different end dates, rate schedules, and software upgrades.

The final straw was a demo of the income screening module, with yet another independent software company, that took more than five minutes to calculate and return information on whether or not the client was qualified under the federal poverty guidelines. Such delays weren’t going to cut for the urgent work LAWYO Hotline.

Option 3: LegalServer for the Win

After finding many shortcomings with Options 1 and 2, LAWYO then took a close look at LegalServer. Here’s why they decided to go with us, in their own words.

“Legal Aid of Wyoming Inc reviewed other case management software programs but picked LegalServer because LegalServer is set up specifically for legal aid organizations,” says LAWYO Executive Director Raymond D. Macchia. “It has SMS, online applications, timekeeping, multi-user capabilities, pre-loaded LSC reports, and the ability to transfer cases between other organizations.”

“In addition, LegalServer has an excellent support system that trained and assisted Legal Aid of Wyoming staff members in setting up and using LegalServer,“ Macchia concludes.

Everything that we could think of was already part of LegalServer, there was nothing we needed to add or develop.

Headshot of Raymond D. Macchia.
Raymond D. Macchia, Executive Director
Legal Aid of Wyoming

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