What is a legal accounts data conversion?
In the context of law firm practice management software, a ‘legal accounts data conversion’ happens when a law firm buys a new software system and works with both its old and new software supplier to take the firm’s accounts data over from the firm’s old computer system to its new system. It is also often referred to as a legal accounts ‘data migration’ or ‘data transfer’.
Why would a law firm take its data across from its old system to its new?
When a law firm outgrows its computer system and decides to invest in something better, of course for continuity the business is still going to need its accounting data that is held in its existing (old) software system. If the firm wants a successful implementation, it should ensure its new business system is up-and-running properly from its go-live date, which means certain key aspects of the firm’s accounting data will need to be migrated across, so it is ready and waiting from day one.
What level of legal accounting data should law firms migrate?
There are degrees of legal accounting data conversion on offer to law firms. Some firms find taking static data only across to their new system will suffice. This is the least costly option and will include client data and matter data. However, many firms choose to take static data and balances, so in addition will take contact data, historic documents, and top-level accounts balances. Some firms want more and in addition will transfer field data, outstanding accounts transactions, and view-only historic accounts transactions.
How can a law firm decide which data should be taken across to the new legal accounting system?
A good software supplier will offer advice from legal software experts on how to approach a data migration, and guidance on how to make it as pain-free as possible.
Should a law firm expect to pay for a legal accounting data migration?
The cost of a legal accounting data conversion depends upon the size of the practice and level of data complexity. It is worth remembering that the data belongs to the law firm, and it is reasonable to expect help from your existing supplier with data portability. Even though you’re leaving them, a software supplier that follows best practice would help you transfer your data easily from one IT environment to another in a safe and secure way without hindrance to usability. You should not be charged for access to YOUR data; however, it is quite reasonable for a law firm to expect to pay for the time spent helping you extract your data.
When budgeting for a data conversion, law firms should expect to pay a fee to their new supplier too. Converting data across from one system to another is a highly skilled and potentially time-consuming service, that is well worth the investment. It is advisable that any firm switching legal practice management software asks for a detailed quote for the data conversion as early as possible in the buying cycle.
How straight-forward is a legal accounts data conversion for law firms?
Some software suppliers make data conversion easier than others. When it comes to retrieving your data, some vendors can only supply limited reports which may lead you to a go-live scenario where huge chunks of your data is missing.
When you are buying a new software system, the last thing you are thinking about is leaving your new supplier. However, one day you may want to. So, it pays to get the data retrieval details in writing before you sign your new software contract. Make sure that if you choose to change software again in the future ALL your data is completely retrievable – and it will be made available in a usable, machine-readable format – auto-generated – with no manual intervention required by yourselves.
What does the Legal Software Suppliers Association say about data conversion best practice?
The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) is the UK body for the legal tech industry. Its code of conduct, which encourages best practice amongst its membership states, “Members must recognise the right of customers to move between software systems and facilitate such moves with provision of customers’ data in a reasonable timescale and at reasonable cost.”
The LSSA’s membership represents most of the leading legal software vendors in today’s marketplace, and its code of conduct focuses on mutual interest between lawyers and software providers.
Are there any top tips for law firms about legal accounts data conversions
In terms of the importance of a law firm’s assets, data is right up there alongside its people, their expertise and their time. Access Legal has over 40,000 users across 3,800 law firms and has vast experience assisting law firms transfer data from most of the systems in today’s legal tech marketplace. Compiling all of our thoughts and recommendations about data conversions in one place, we have a written a blog “Eleven top tips for a successful law firm data migration”.
If you want more information about any aspect of Access Legal software or for advice about data conversions, please contact our team of experts when you’re ready to talk. You may also be interested in our BIG Software Switching Guide for Law Firms.