The Age of the Poly-platformy

Once upon a time, a law firm committed to a practice management system for life.  Whether TimeMatters, Amicus, Abacus, Needles or a paper-based numerical filing system set up by a law firm secretary, most firms opted for a single system, invested heavily in consultants to customize as needed and continued using the system for the life of the firm.

But as firms move to the cloud, many likewise are moving away from sole-source solutions.  Take the example of  Burton Legal, which won the ALM Solo/Small Firm Award  for innovative use of technology.  As this post  describes, Burton uses Clio, Google Apps, and DirectLaw to operate its two-state practice and serve clients online.  I certainly understand the instinct, as I’m service-schizophrenic myself, picking and choosing between Google Apps, Freshbooks,, Zoho, Dropbox (often my clients’ preferred solution) to come up with a system that works both for my practice and my clients.

And so, I wonder whether this is where the cloud is heading? Is there a Nirvana – a practice management/portal/billing solution that handles all of these tasks for all practices seamlessly?  Or will lawyers have to become adept with a Chinese menu solution, choosing two items from column A and one from column B to come up with a suitable meal? And if they do, is that such bad thing?  And what about the cost of multiple tools – since even the low cost of cloud-based platforms can add up with multiple users and systems.

By the way, if you’re interested, here’s a bunch of tech choices employed by solos two years ago. If anything, there are even more choices now.