An Interview with Larry Port from Rocket Matter

Rocket MatterLast week I had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Larry Port from Rocket Matter. Rocket Matter is a web based practice management and time and billing solution. In the interview, Larry tells us about Rocket Matter and a little about how it works.

If you are thinking of trying a web based practice management solution, you may want to take a look at Rocket Matter.

What is Rocket Matter?

Rocket Matter is an easy-to-use web-based legal practice management and time and billing solution. It’s designed from the ground up to facilitate the practice of law in small and solo firms. Rocket Matter is also referred to as Software as a Service, or SaaS, since it is a web-based, hosted application.

Specifically, Rocket Matter allows law firms to manage calendars, to-do lists, contacts, matters, and time and billing in one integrated and simple solution. We created a technology we call “Bill as you Work”, which traps billable time as lawyers and paralegals go about their day. The net result is a product that allows firms to operate more efficiently and reduces the amount of time that gets lost for invoicing.

Since we host Rocket Matter on our servers and it’s accessed via the Internet, users have ubiquitous access to their information while never having to spend money or time on software installations or upgrades.

Tell me more about Bill as you Work. How does it work? What does it capture?

The whole idea behind “Bill as you Work” is to capture time as you go about your day to day activities, so that at the end of the month when it comes time to bill you don’t end up losing all of your precious hours. For example, when you schedule a deposition in your calendar, you can choose to bill for the time spent when you create the appointment. Likewise, your to-do items can be instantly converted from simple reminders into billable items that can end up on your invoice. The application also contains its own stopwatch, so you can time any activity you work on and funnel that directly into billing.

As time goes on, we will look to incorporate “Bill as you Work” into new features as well.

The rest of the interview continues below the break

When was Rocket Matter first introduced?

Rocket Matter has been in private beta since early November 2007. We went live with our public Pilot Program on February 21, 2008.

What size of firm is your product ideal for?

Our ideal firm is small, consisting of 1 to 25 total employees. We can scale our application to much larger firms, but we want to focus on the solo and small firm segment of the market, which has been under-served for too long.

What type of security do you use to make sure that the information remains secure?

We understand that security and confidentiality are of utmost concern to attorneys. The security measures we included in Rocket Matter are comprehensive. Every request is encrypted with 128-bit secure SSL, the same encryption used by many major banks and financial institutions. Passwords are hashed (stored in an encrypted format) and known only by you. Threat Modeling, which is the practice of identifying and countering attacks, is a fundamental part of our development process. There are a host of other security measures we have taken to lock down and isolate a firms data, and we’ll be conducting ongoing audits with independent security specialist firms.

What type of computer system do I need to access my data?

Rocket Matter runs in an Internet browser, freeing you from the constraints of any particular operating system. Macs, PC’s, and Linux systems can all be used, as long as they have a modern browser (Firefox, IE 6 or above, and Safari). Now that full-fledged mobile browsers have been introduced, iPhones and Pocket PC’s with SkyFire can be used to access Rocket Matter.

What’s nice about Internet access is that you’re free to use the platform of your choice. Also, since Rocket Matter is identical in these different environments, you can migrate very easily from one platform to another, and not have to worry about the type of computer you have at home.

Can I access my data in any way if I cannot reach your servers, (e.g., I can’t get to the internet)?

Currently, access to Rocket Matter requires an Internet connection. Of course, if you need to access some piece of crucial information and you find yourself without access, you can always call our customer support line.

We are aware that synching with Outlook, iCal, and Address Book is a concern for people and we will be addressing this in the future. If we see that synching is a make-or-break deal for potential clients, we will prioritize this functionality.

What happens to my data if I chose to stop using your service?

In the sad circumstance that we part ways, Rocket Matter will offer you a full copy of your data at no charge. Your contacts and calendar data will be exported to industry standard formats, such as vCard and iCalendar, which can be read by applications such as Outlook, iCal, and Address Book. Your matter and time and billing information will be exported to a navigable HTML format, so that you can view and make sense of your information.

Can I backup my data from your servers to a local hard drive?

Rocket Matter is developing an enhanced service plan, in which customers can obtain regular backups of their information. Users participating in this plan will have the option of downloading their data or having it sent to them on a DVD.

Do your offer training with your product? If so, what kind?

We are very committed to training, as we see it as an extension of customer support and a way of keeping people happy. Rocket Matter users enjoy free training called CRE, or Continuing Rocket Education. These are live webinars hosted every week, open to all Rocket Matter customers at no additional cost. Furthermore, we offer Online CRE courses, which allow users at any time to watch guided instructional videos on the various features of the program.

Do I have to sign a long term contract?

Currently, we are signing up month-to-month users as part of our Rocket Matter Pilot Program, limited to our first 100 customers. Afterwards, you will have the choice of paying month-to-month or signing a year contract, with significant savings on year contracts.

What is the pricing for Rocket Matter?

During our Pilot Program, we are charging $50 USD per attorney per month and $15 USD per support staff per month.

Customer support is included for Pilot Program participants. Phone support is available from 9am to 6pm EST. Phone support is handled in the United States and conducted by a native English speaker. After hours, customers can leave messages or email us, and we will respond to their issues promptly.

What are the differences between an attorney account and a support staff account?

Currently, we are discounting the support staff accounts as a promotion for our Pilot Program. As we exit our Pilot Program, attorneys will have full access to all of the bells and whistles of the application. Support staff will have access restrictions for some functionality.

What makes Rocket Matter different from other similar programs?

Rocket Matter’s big differentiator is the simple yet comprehensive nature of its features. Simplicity, paired with great customer support and training, will enable our customers to actually use our product and enjoy doing so.

Compared to traditional legal practice management tools, Rocket Matter is a leap forward in ease-of-use. We eliminated the confusing “bloatware”, or features people don’t require. We’ve taken the elements that most firms need: calendaring, contact management, matter management, and invoicing, and rolled them into one integrated product.

By creating a web-based solution, we have created another differentiator with existing legal products: there is no need to purchase additional hardware, and no IT consultant required for an install or upgrade. We handle backups, security, and all of the other technical issues so that attorneys and their staffs can focus on the practice of law.

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