I recently heard about a new productivity tool built specifically for solo service providers that I thought might be of interest to solo lawyers, although I haven't tried it myself yet. Built by an international team of designers and developers, 17 hats is a business management app that seeks to streamline business processes for solo business people.
17hats is a cloud-based tool that combines basic CRM (customer relationship management, including contacts), project management, calendaring, quotes, contracts, invoicing, time tracking and bookkeeping all into one integrated program, eliminating the need to subscribe to several software services and purchase different apps and programs.
Some features lawyers might be interested in include:
Workflows lets you automate many repetitive tasks, and to create workflows so you don't skip an essential step in a client's representation. For those who like checklists, these workflows should work well.
Contracts isn't just for contracts, per se - it's a feature that lets you create documents, send them and get them signed digitally. You can create questionnaires to send to clients or potential clients in advance of a meeting or to obtain client feedback after a matter has been completed. Clients fill out the questionnaires directly online. Quotes is what you'd use to send a client an estimate or explanation of your fees. You might use either quotes or contracts for a retainer agreement for example.
Templates helps you to create re-usable templates so you don't need to reinvent the wheel. You can create templates for questionnaires, contracts, quotes, email messages and more.
Incorporated into the invoicing feature is the ability to send online invoices and receive credit card payments. A time-tracking tool will help if you need to bill by the hour or just want to keep track of your time.
There is also an email sync feature, but reviews at this early stage have been lukewarm at best on this particular feature.
17hats is a relatively new program which was launched in October 2014, but the Pasadena, CA based company reportedly received additional seed funding this month from Wavemaker Partners, a company that focuses on technnology based startup companies. This could mean good things for the future of the program.
The company offers a two week free trial, followed by pricing that, if the program delivers the functionality it advertises, is eminently affordable: if you sign on for two years, you pay just $13/month. Shorter terms are available at $29/month for the monthly plan or $17/month for the annual plan.
While not built specifically for lawyers, 17hats does say that lawyers are among the solo business owners it had in mind when creating the program. As with any cloud-based program, you'll want to see what security and confidentiality measures 17hats uses to safeguard data you enter into the program, but for solos who want to stay organized, this may be an interesting option.
If you decide to try out 17hats, let me know what you think!