Friday, January 9, 2009

Concerns About Amicus Attorney Failing To Serve Its Customers

I run Amicus Attorney as my case management software. The product is put out by a Canadian company by the name of Gavel & Gown Software. We have had it in place for approximately ten years, and switching to another product isn't a practical option. Basically, our firm is a slave to the product. I like the software, but hate the company. Let me give you an example.

We run the Premium Edition (PE), which is there top of the line product. PE auto installs updates. Over the New Year break the program did an auto update. When our office re-opened on January 5th, Amicus Attorney would not run -- because of a flaw with the auto update. That meant we had to call technical support. We made the call, only to learn that our technical support contract expired on January 3. Interesting coincidence? I doubt it. So, we pay the $500+ to extend our service contract, and resolve the bug in the software. Frustrating.

Another example. The PE has a nice feature called the "mobile edition." This is an add-on. Basically it installs the program on my Window Mobile cell phone. Then I have light copy of the entire software on my phone. I can bill, attach calls to files, etc., all from my phone. Admittedly great stuff. I paid roughly $200 a month ago for the upgrade.

Today I get a sales e-mail from Gavel & Gown. They have released a 2009 version of PE. Don't know what it costs. But the sales materials would suggest that the mobile edition is now a free component. If it is I am pissed because the sales department should have told me to wait a month for the 2009 version. I am also frustrated by the possibility that the upgrade to the 2009 version may include technical support, which I just shelled $500 for earlier in the week. I have left a message for the sales department. Will let everyone know what I hear back.

Amicus Attorney is notorious for releasing product to market before it is ready. Several of us tech crazy family law lawyers have resorted to calling it Mini Microsoft. You can't live with it, but you can't live without it. This corporate model forces you to maintain expensive support, and leaves you wanting for the next version so you can get past the problems of your current software (think Vista!).

On the whole I like the product. Then again I don't have any other option. If you are considering practice/case management software into your practice, consider Amicus. But make sure you compare it to other products, and appreciate that it is buggy, and it is expensive to maintain. There is definitely a very high price($$$) beyond the money you are going to pay to buy the product.

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