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Staying Grounded: Legacy vs. Cloud Software in Legal Accounting

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

By: Keith Hill Jr.

The legal accounting industry has been dominated by desktop-based practice management software for decades. As more and more legal professionals move towards cloud-based solutions, the decision to stick with traditional desktop software or transition to the cloud has become a topic of ongoing debate. In my previous article, we explored the industry’s evolving landscape into the cloud. In this article, we will examine the contrary, whether it's better to stick with legacy software versus adopting the cloud revolution.

When it comes to deciding whether to switch to cloud-based software or stick with legacy software, law firms need to evaluate their unique set of needs, priorities, and circumstances. Making an informed decision that aligns with their unique requirements, realities, and goals is essential.

Here are seven factors to consider before making the leap:

1. Familiarity: If a law firm has been using a particular software for a considerable amount of time, its staff may be so familiar with the software and may have developed expertise in using it. Switching to a new practice management software would require additional time and resources for training and onboarding. Alternatively, hiring new staff or letting go of current employees may be necessary to accommodate the transition.

2. Cost: The expenses related to switching to a new legal accounting software, such as training and potential downtime during the transition, could outweigh the benefits. Additionally, the payment model based on subscriptions, which is used by cloud-based options, may not be feasible for all firms from a financial perspective.

3. Business continuity: Switching to new software may disrupt business operations. Law firms may choose to stay with their current option to ensure business continuity. Perhaps it’s an inopportune time to schedule this type of endeavour.

4. Customization: Your current software may have been customized to suit the specific needs and workflows of the firm. Moving to a different software would mean having to recreate these customizations from scratch.

5. Data migration: Transferring data from one practice management software to another can be a complex process, particularly if the firm has a large amount of data. Migrating this data could be challenging and may pose risks, such as data loss or corruption.

6. User Interface / Experience: Along the lines of my first point, law firms may prefer their current software’s user interface, navigation, or overall user experience compared to alternative options.

7. Not an immediate need: Perhaps your legacy software has been reliable and stable, and you may not require the added flexibility and accessibility that cloud-based software provides. Even if switching was your end goal, perhaps the timing is not right now.

The decision to switch or stay with is dependent on the specific needs, priorities, and circumstances of the firm. But it should be kept in mind that while these new software options are emerging, not everyone is, and not everyone should switch. However, it is essential for you to keep abreast of the latest developments in legal tech and evaluate legal accounting software solutions regularly to ensure they are meeting their needs and helping you stay competitive.


Keith Hill Jr. is the Principal at Bookkeeping Matters Inc (BMI). For over a decade, Bookkeeping Matters has been fulfilling bookkeeping needs for lawyers throughout Ontario and other provinces. As a former Legal Accounting professor, Keith has also positioned BMI as a premier provider of online legal accounting training. Specializing in several practice management software, Keith and his team can be contacted at: / 1-800-893-2820 /

©2023 Bookkeeping Matters Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.


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