While attending the LexisNexis annual Practice Management Conference in Las Vegas this past week, we learned that PCLaw 11 is in the works. Release is targeted for the first quarter of 2011, about the same time that Time Matters Version 11 is slated for release.

Expected enhancements to this new version of PCLaw include an improved Time Matters/PCLaw link, a “mobility” solution to allow for time and expense entry through a browser, one-way integration to Quickbooks from PCLaw, and expanded case and matter management functionality.

PCLaw is an important part of the practice management software solutions offered by LexisNexis, and at the Consultants’ Conference personnel from the LexisNexis product development and product management teams presented their plans to about 150 legal software consultants for their upcoming and future product releases, and explained their view of how PCLaw fits into the combined software product picture at LexisNexis.

It seems pretty clear that the emphasis at LexisNexis has now shifted away from many updates and enhancements to fewer product releases, each of which has undergone much more thorough design review and quality assurance testing. LexisNexis has restructured its internal management resources so that the Quality Assurance unit reports directly to higher level management, a change from the past, when it reported to Development; we believe that this will significantly improve release quality levels.

The list of new features demonstrates LexisNexis’s pragmatic view of how law firms actually use their software, and their understanding of the new mobile capabilities that lawyers and administrators are looking for. The new approach is supported by market research involving lawyers and administrators in 1,100 small and mid-sized law firms.

The Quickbooks link planned for PCLaw 11 reflects this new pragmatism at LexisNexis. Rather than competing head to head with the popular Quickbooks accounting product, LexisNexis will simply provide a link that allows Quickbooks to function as the pure “accounting” database in a law firm, while PCLaw will continue to track, in parallel, billing and payment/trust management information, in tandem with Quickbooks. While in PCLaw 10 the accounting integration file is limited to serving as a basic trial-balance export, in PCLaw 11 the Quickbooks link will be transactional, and subject to further definition of scope. The link will send over client expenses, accounts payable, general checks, general receipts, trust checks, trust receipts, general journal, invoices, and write ups/write downs to the appropriate areas within Quickbooks, while still retaining that detail in PC Law.

The PCLaw product feature roadmap extends out several years now, and contains some intriguing potential new features. We consultants were also asked for input for this future product feature set. For example, several of us advocated for a link to the popular Worldox document management system, which should make trust and estate lawyers, and other more sophisticated document management users, happy.

We expect to hear more as the new releases of PCLaw and Time Matters move through the development and testing cycles, and we will keep you informed, via this blog and via other channels, as we learn more from LexisNexis.