My reviews will focus on how effectively the services provide case- and matter-management. My reviews will not discuss the accounting/timekeeping/billing aspects of the services. Instead, I will focus on the accessibility/presentation of case information, contacts, calendar & tasks, documents, document assembly, and unique features each service provides.
by Rocket Matter, LLC
Price: $59.99 per user, per month
Rocket Matter advertises itself as “the blazingly fast, leading legal billing and law firm management software.” As I will discuss in greater detail below, Rocket Matter clearly sees itself as a billing software first, as demonstrated by the testimonial quotes contained on their main page (two address billing, none address case management). However, they have grown to be one of the most used cloud-based case management software systems on the market. The real question is, how does their case management portion stack up?
Rocket Matter emphasizes it’s ability to provide billing and accounting to small firms, and its focus on the accounting side is probably felt the greatest in the display of case/matter information, which is sadly neglected.
That said, Rocket Matter really does a lot of things right in this area. Rather than putting case information and details in the most prominent location, as Clio and MyCase both do, Rocket Matter puts your upcoming calendar appointment and tasks front and center for each case. The case information, including a full calendar, your to-do list, and case documents, are all accessible from a comprehensive sidebar. Further down the sidebar, you find a listing of the case contacts, the role of whom are designated at the case level, allowing for flexibility between cases. Additionally, the use of the “Tag” function throughout Rocket Matter provides an excellent search feature for users who need to quickly access case information for different cases.
The biggest drawback, in my opinion, is that if it’s not an upcoming event, task, or billing related, you’re going to have to search for it. Not only does other information not receive very prominent real estate, it’s not always clear which button will get you to where you want to go. Another major drawback to dedicating so much of the page to the calendar and tasks is that accessing almost any other information requires navigating away from the case information screen.
Sadly, with Rocket Matter, any navigation involves a short, but quite annoying after a few days, loading screen, reminiscent of the early days of Playstation. Additionally, the default settings for case information is VERY bare bones. If you want to add any additional information, and you will, a significant amount of customization is required, and even then, you’ll have to look for a while to find it.
Unlike the case information screen, Rocket Matter clearly considered the contacts section to be of considerable importance. Of all the case management software systems that I have reviewed, Rocket Matter’s contact system comes closest to the comprehensive nature of the Outlook contact system. Allowing you to designate salutations and middle initials is one thing, but Rocket Matter goes a step further, allowing you to connect related contacts to each entry, including designations such as assistant, manager, or spouse.
The display of contact information in Rocket Matter is clean and accessible, and includes a display of related matters. Importantly, when you look to the list of related matters, you also are able to see how the contact is designated in each of those matters, giving you a quick-glance look to see how often you’ll see this contact in their role as attorney, mediator, or other role in your cases.
Rocket Matter’s contacts section does contain a few drawbacks. The contact page only contains two address fields, Home and Office, precluding you from entering a different mailing address for a contact. Additionally, you are only able to sort the contacts alphabetically, whereas both Clio and MyCase allow you to sort individual and company contacts separately.
Rocket Matter’s desire to make their interface clean and understandable is on full display in their calendar and task system. You are able to view and sort your calendar easily by attorney or by case, and you are easily able to see a full calendar for the entire firm, if necessary. The calendar makes identifying scheduling conflicts incredibly easy, and the visual design makes the entire calendar remarkably clear. Creating new calendar and task entries is very simple, and the tasks themselves are quite easy to sort and organize.
Unfortunately, the desire for clarity and simplicity also plays into some of the weaknesses of the calendar and task system. Every click on the calendar navigates you to a new screen, with that strange “load time” I discussed earlier for each change. The inability to access more on the calendar without leaving the page makes the calendar feel clumsy and inefficient at times. However, the biggest drawback is in the task system. Beyond the title of the task, the due date, and the identity of the attorney it’s assigned to, there is no way to add other information to a task. You’re not able to link a contact or a document to a task. Worse, beyond the text contained in the title, no additional notes can be made.
Rocket Matter’s document management capabilities are a point of pride, demonstrated by their ads pronouncing the unlimited storage capacity for firms who use Rocket Matter. Unlimited storage is quite nice, and it is an excellent feature. In addition, Rocket Matter supports a very wide range of file types for document storage, and Rocket Matter is also fully compatible with Dropbox. However, the true crown jewel for Rocket Matter’s document management system is its integration with Evernote. For lawyers who regularly use Evernote, you’ll love the special integration features between the two services.
Rocket Matter does have several glaring weaknesses in its document management, though. First, the only built-in categorization for your documents is by case – no designation by document type exists, no date, category, or author. For that, Rocket Matter provides the ability to give each document one or more “Tags.” While Tags can be quite useful if done correctly and uniformly, there is nothing preventing documents from being saved without Tags, and no way to limit the number of Tags in operation. Additionally, documents cannot be linked together or grouped. Unless the documents are organized elsewhere (like Dropbox or Evernote), the document management features of Rocket Matter are very unhelpful for viewing specific case-related documents.
Rocket Matter’s document automation capabilities are significant, but limited. The availability of information for inclusion in templates is one of Rocket Matter’s major strengths. Merge fields include the ability to add information from custom fields in contacts, matters, AND global custom fields. Further, custom fields can be made in .doc or .docx formats.
Unfortunately, if you’re not using MS Word for your templates, you’re completely out of luck. There are also no templates for presentation or spreadsheet documents. Moreover, when accessing the templates you’ve already made, the Rocket Matter interface does not allow for you to do categorized searches. Therefore, if you have a lot of templates, it’s never going to be easy to find the exact right one.
Tags. While I criticized Rocket Matter a few times in this article for falling short on particular areas, the most critical in my opinion is their failure to really include any measure of categorization. Instead, they use Tags. While I’m not a huge fan of their use instead of categories, they actually have the potential, in a well-organized law firm, to be something special. By allowing documents to be Tagged as BOTH correspondence and email/letter/fax, you have the ability to view a timeline of your correspondence documents, even though they would have been categorized separately. Used frequently and uniformly, Rocket Matter’s Tags could potentially solve a lot of problems that currently plague most of the cloud-based systems.
4 out of 5.
Rocket Matter is, above all else, a billing/accounting service for attorneys. The inclusion of case management software really appears to be something that has been added on (similar to the firm management aspects of PC Law), and has been the subject of constant updates. Most significantly, Rocket Matter is not really set up for me to get a first-glance look at the status of a case, except to know what calendar events and tasks are on the near-horizon. However, Rocket Matter’s strengths, particularly in its contacts and document automation, should not be completely discounted. Plus, the effective use of Tags could legitimately be a game changer.
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