There seems to have been a recent uptick in inquiries along the line "Do I really need Time Matters?" Can't I do everything I do with TM just with PCLaw? (Manifestly, this corresponds to increased dissatisfaction with Time Matters and LexisNexis).
The generic answer is pretty simple: If you have an extensively customized Time Matters setup (for example, do you have custom fields on the "Additional" tab?), and make substantial use of chains and triggers, then the answer is "No, you would not be happy with PCLaw." However, if you use TM mainly as a calendar and rolodex for contacts and matters, then PCLaw may be able to do what you need. As usual, the devil is in the details.
Calendar and Chains (Linked Events). PCLaw has an excellent calendar, on a par with Time Matters. And while TM can be customized almost any way you want, PCLaw has a built-in "location" category (where is the appointment taking place), and is much more geared to billing time than TM is. PCLaw will let you create and store "linked events" (what TM calls "chains"), and notify someone of an appointment.
Triggers. PCLaw does not have triggers (where one event "triggers" another).
Customization of Matters. While TM puts everything "up front" on three screens, PCLaw does let you create a series of "Custom Tabs" that can be associated with a matter or type of law. As you might expect from a billing and accounting program, these are heavily oriented toward billing items. However, while you do not have options such as calculated fields, phone, social security number, web or email fields, the options you do have include dates, yes/no, etc. You have lookups of PCLaw fields but not customized lookup tables as with TM. However, if you wished to set up a Custom Tab to display all the dates for particular kinds of court matter for example, you could do so easily and display it all in one place (which you cannot do in TM).
Documents. PCLaw will let you create merge documents which are similar to TM's merge documents. In terms of usability, they are somewhere in between formattable clipboards and merge documents in TM and will also let you access fields in your Custom Tabs. They will work with WordPerfect, but must be created in Word.
Timers. If you make use (or would like to make use) of timers. PCLaw lets you start timers from Word, Excel or Internet Explorer to track and bill time spent in those applications. TM does not do this.
And of course, in terms of overall time and billing functions, PCLaw is miles ahead of TM's Billing Matters (which is in the process of being discontinued by LexisNexis).
Data Import. You may have trouble getting existing data into PCLaw. When it links with Time Matters or Amicus, it imports the clients, but not any other contacts. However, there is a little-known utility called “pclawdi.exe” which can be downloaded from the PCLaw download site (http://support.pclaw.com/techpage.asp). You may have to fight with tech support to get the product key (it is a 25-digit key which was used prior to v. 8.20c, not the current 40-digit key), but the utility itself is free. You can import basic information – contacts, clients, matters and calendar items. Not complete, but a big step along the way. You will not, however, get any custom field information in your current program (on the other hand, if you have a lot of custom field information chances are PCLaw will not do what you want).
So the answer is.... it all depends on what you are looking to do. If you make a list of the five things you wish your current system would do, but doesn't; and another of five functions you absolutely can't afford to lose, and compare the result with some of the details above, you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision.