Welcome

Thank you for visiting the Family Law Lawyer Tech & Practice blog. My name is John Harding. I am a family law lawyer practicing in Northern California. Long ago I realized that I could practice law more effectively and more efficiently (i.e., better and easier) by availing myself of the technological tools that are out there. I also learned that a successful law practice requires successful marketing. Hardware and software working together make me a better lawyer, and make my life easier. Marketing helps to bring in the business necessary for professional survival. By this blog I hope to share the tips, tricks, and technology that I have learned about so that others may benefit!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Am Dumping Amicus Attorney

We have used Amicus Attorney for years. I have always loved the awesome graphics of the program, and the potential it carries. I have always loathed the technical support, and the dubious upgrade process. In my mind Gavel & Gown software, the vendor of Amicus Attorney, has a nasty habit of releasing annual upgrades with only modest little tweaks, then discontinuing reasonable support for earlier iterations of the software. They have also in the last year or two introduced a completely ridiculous annual maintenance plan. They release buggy software, then you have no choice but to spend hundreds of dollars for a support agreement. This strategy is even more offensive in that new product upgrades come with no support! Even if you pay several thousands of dollars to upgrade, you then have to pack on hundreds of dollars more to get the new software to work! That is why I have version 2008 running, even though there is a version 2009, and a version 2010.

I have put up with this shoddy way of doing business for years because of the overwhelming thought of converting to a different system. However, Gavel & Gown has finally crossed the line. We use AA in conjunction with a court rules calendaring program from Compulaw. In the first week in November I received an e-mail from Gavel & Gown that there were going to be problems with the Compulaw add-on because of changes that the Federal Courts have made regarding how dates will be calculated. The theme of the message was "stay tuned." This is important because date and rules calendaring is one of the main reasons we use case management software.

That stay-tune message came about ten days later when I got a letter from Gavel & Gown. That letter explained that date and rules calendaring in any pre-2010 version of Amicus would not work after November 30, 2009, and the only solution would be to purchase the 2010 version. Absolute Piracy! Here's a flip of the proverbial bird at you Gavel & Gown.

Last week I plunked down more than $6000 to purchase an entire new software system from Abacus Law. The software is installed, and we are now waiting for the vendor to schedule our data conversion from Amicus to Abacus. I know that is going to be a challenging and frustrating exercise, but we really have no choice. Gavel & Gown has painted us into a corner, and now we have to work our way out.

Stay tuned.

13 comments:

robert said...

We use Amicus. I abhor it.

If it were not for the calendar function and time entries to PCLaw, I would just use Outlook.

If and when I own my own practice, I hope there will be something more user friendly.

Larry Port said...

Sorry to hear about your woes. We've been wondering what's been going on with Amicus because people have been moving from them to Rocket Matter in droves recently.

I just wish I knew about your troubles before, we could have helped you move your data over to our platform and saved you the 6K up-front cost.

If you find yourself in another pickle, don't hesitate to reach out.

Larry Port
Founding Partner and Chief Software Architect
Rocket Matter, LLC
larry (at) rocketmatter.com
http://www.twitter.com/rocketmatter

Ken said...

Throw it away. Use MindManager. The best legal product never marketed to lawyers. www.mindjet.com

Ron Cappuccio said...

I use Phoneslips by telexis.com It does a lot of great things and is an inexpensive and a very easy to use substitute for Amicus, Abacus, Time Matters. The system works flawlessly and takes just a few minutes to train users. No consultant is needed. On top of that, the tech support is by programmers, not people reading a script.

I hope this helps!

Ronald J. Cappuccio, J.D., LL.M.(Tax)
www.TaxEsq.com

Danny Johnson said...

I'm not to familiar with Larry's product but I am familiar with legal SaaS and would concur that a SaaS solution would fit your predicament perfectly.

Chris said...

This sounds eerily similar to my experience with amicus attorney. We've spent thousands to try to get all the features to work (working offline) etc. to no avail. We want a SAAS solution now and are considering CLIO and Rocket Matter. I'm tired of updating software and want to be more mobile.

Melody said...

Ditto! I used Amicus in my old firm, so I spent the money when I went out on my own in 2006 and have limped along until I am at the point I have to make a change. I actually had a "tech support" person act like I was some kind of idiot when I did what they suggested and the offline feature still did not work. She told me Amicus "is not an easy program"(I have a computer science minor from undergrad) - I did not think I would have to rewrite it to make it work. For those of us out here flying solo, it is extremely frustrating to plunk down several thousand dollars, then have someone tell me "Gee, I don't know why" the program is not working, but if you buy the newer version, it will. Ugh!! and to have a link between the server, my laptop and my palm, if I were fool enough to upgrade, I would have to use Outlook - as if I want to do that. Dump Amicus as fast as you can.

John E. Harding, JD, CFLS said...

I hear you folks! We are now just short of a year into our transition to AbacusLaw. We are content with the change.

There is always a huge learning curve when you undertake such a major change. While AbacusLaw is not as graphically pretty as Amicus Attorney, it is much more stable (not perfect mind you, but better than AA). Tech support has been very good (again, not perfect, but much, much, much, more courteous, professional, and competent than AA).

I recommend AbacusLaw.

I continue to be intrigued by the cloud platforms offered by Clio and Rocket. They are not as evolved as AbacusLaw (for example, e-mail integration, calendar rules integration....), and I am still weary of a platform that I am not hosting on my own hardware (what happens if the company goes belly-up?). However, both do present the nice graphics and simple user interface that I prefer.

Abacus, can you become prettier?

Joni said...

I've just read this post and one you wrote last August about using your iphone with Abacus. I'm also a family law attorney who has used Abacus Law in our 6-attorney office for 15 years. My original attraction was the versatility of creating data fields and screens and the ease of merging data to an extensive Word Perfect form bank. That was before we used email or had smart phones. As we all morphed into smart phones of our choice, we've spent a lot of time and money for our computer consultant to learn how to make Abacus talk to Palm Pilots (and later Trios), BlackBerries, Androids, and probably others I've forgotten. None of us have Iphones yet, but we're considering converting to a 'fleet' of office cell phones to take advantage of what we think will be the best all-purpose tool and to stop the inferiorating expense of tweaking each new phone that comes along.

But enough about me. I'm curious about your satisfaction with Abacus, now that you've used it for almost two years, and, in particular, how it's working with your iphone.

Joni Berner
www.bernerklaw.com

John E. Harding, JD, CFLS said...

Abacus and iPhone are working fine. Waiting for Apple's transition from Mobile Me to iCloud.

Donna Neff said...

Thanks for sharing so honestly your experiences with Amicus Attorney and Abacus. We've used Amicus Attorney for over ten years and have experienced the same issues ... declining support, increasing demands to upgrade to resolve problems. I'm not ready to dump Amicus just yet but I may well reach the breaking point soon. Nice to know there are some alternatives out there. Cloud practice management is not appealing for the very reasons others have indicated. Not keen on having my client data under someone else's control and, in any event, our Canadian licensing authorities have a problem with data being stored anywhere that US (or other) laws might lead to a breach of confidentiality. Thanks again for your candour. Very insightful blog.

Rob Cohen said...

Today is Saturday. I am trying to install my old Amicus on a new server (Support has said I should just upgrade, for only $3k). I stumbled across this blog when I randomly typed in Amicus Support (just to see what showed up).

Anyways, can you post how things are going with Abacas? How did the data transfer go? That is my biggest concern, that I don't want to lose all of my old data.

John Harding said...

Abacus is working out very well for us. It is not inexpensive, but it has all the features we require. A special mention that it does have rules based calendaring, which is essential for us. We pay a monthly subscription that keeps us up to date with the latest updates. Abacus technical support is far, far, far superior to Amicus.