I’ve spoken with a lot of lawyers who want to make their own software. In fact, as a creditor’s rights attorney, I knew quite a few who developed platforms for their own use. Many of them entertain the idea of selling these platforms to others. Yet, few of them try, and still fewer of them are successful.
What is it, then, that allows some lawyers to tap into this alternative income stream? And why are others left simply dreaming of what they could do? Software development for lawyers is about selling processes. The firms that have good processes to sell will find success. Others will not.
Impetus for Building Software
Lawyers often find themselves wishing that a platform would do something more. Nothing ever works perfectly for the systems they have in place. Which makes sense. There are countless ways to practice law within the practice of law. So, unless a lawyer is willing to adjust their processes to fit the system, the system will never be enough.
Commonly, this leads a firm to build their own product based around their own systems If a firm has the need and the means, it’s not a bad idea to build something bespoke that fits their firm perfectly.
Although this is a great reason to build a product internally, it’s not a great reason to sell the product externally.
Selling Processes Rather than Software
As stated earlier, no product will be perfect for a firm unless the firm is willing to adjust its practices and procedures to fit the product. This is true for any software. Yes, some tools fit well into a firm’s procedures, but they don’t generally fit everything.
This was true for Greg Siskind, a Lawyerist Community member and renowned immigration attorney. With his team from Siskind & Susser, he has designed an immigration-specific practice management platform. They are co-developing it with FastCase, using the NextChapter software.
From his perspective, this platform is a natural extension of a book that his team has published for decades. They refer to it as the Immigration Cookbook, and it helps other attorneys learn proper practices and procedures for immigration cases.
With this new software, practicing immigration attorneys won’t need to adjust their systems and procedures just to use it. They’ve already done that when buying into the Cookbook. Here, Greg and his team have already sold the processes. The software is simply a way to use current technology to implement those processes.
Developing Software as an Attorney
Software development for attorneys, then, is not really about building software. It’s about building processes. And, frankly, it’s about building better processes than the next attorney. Then, and only then, can a firm develop a successful application. Future users will have to see a need to use the system upon which the software is built. Otherwise, they may just develop something on their own.
Check out our Healthy Systems resources to learn more about developing processes and procedures for your firm. There, you’ll see how to build processes, document them, and implement them into your particular practice.
Last updated March 16th, 2023