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Author Topic: Software docketing/work flow mgt for patent attorney firm in Europe  (Read 124 times)


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I wonder if some readers could offer some advice in relation to the following

I am a European Patent Attorney, and started my own private practice about a year ago. I am working alone now, with a part-time secretary, and don't intend to ever grow bigger than 2-3 (trainee) attorneys.

One thing I am struggling with is to find a decent off-the-shelf docketing/work flow management software system for European patent attorneys.

I've searched quite a bit already, and what I found (with one exception) was way too expensive for small firm like mine. Set-up fees and monthly fees were routinely in the high hundreds to low thousands of Euro per month, and what I found required running and maintaining servers. Which is fine if you can afford an IT-person and share the cost over 20 attorneys, but alas...

I found one system with a reasonable monthly subscription fee, but I am not at all happy with it. Even though I have a long-term contract, and spent several thousands on training, I am ready to cut my losses and start all over again with a new system.

Whatís wrong with it?
1) The system has an excessively overwhelming amount of options and settings. Even after more than half a year I am completely lost, and need to search hours to do basic actions.
2) The system seems to have started to serve US attorneys, with a European module (and national modules) bolted on later, not quite fitting.
3) The system is not at all intuitive, searching is clumsy
4) The reporting (while allegedly capable of doing almost anything) is difficult to get to work
5) It can upload documents. Handy, I thought. Unfortunately..... It refuses to upload saved emails. In the  end I need to keep my windows-based file system.
6) It doesnít match my workflow (perhaps it can be customised, but after many hours playing I still donít have a clue how to do that).

My main gripe in this last respect is that it allows me to docket items, and mark them as completed, but thatís only part of my work flow.

For example, if an office action comes in, I donít just need to docket and receive reminders when a response is due. I need to start a work flow sequence: report to the customer, request instructions, remind the customer (perhaps several times), draft a response, have the customer agree to the response, file the response.

I need task-management and reporting functionality with reminders for all these sub-tasks, not simply a reminder when a response is due. But then again, I imagine most attorneys in private practice have similar requirements.

I am using it now because I have nothing better. I am sure I am only using 1% or so of the capabilities of the system, but it simply doesnít work for me.

I won't mention the name of the product, because the support people are actually quite nice, but I am frustrated with it. Maybe it is a decent product, but not for me.

So, Iíd be quite keen to get some input on docketing/workflow management software, specifically adapted for
- small firms,
- private practice, not in-house, attorneys
- European patent attorneys.

Any feedback is highly appreciated.


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