HoudiniEsq offers a free download and installation for solo practitioners, great for those looking for a test drive before rolling out a new piece of expensive software to your entire firm.
A free trial (as I’ve said before) is a must for any law practice management software. All of the major players in the space offer one; there’s no reason they shouldn’t. If they’re not confident you’ll end up keeping their software after playing with it for 30 days, then that’s a bigger problem.
With HoudiniEsq, you have two options – downloadable, server-based software or web-based cloud software. Over the last few reviews I’ve done, I’ve mentioned my partiality towards cloud-based services because:
- I don’t have to worry about my server crashing and losing all my data
- I won’t lose my client data if my computer explodes
- If I have no idea how to maintain computer security, hiring an outside consultant can get expensive for an on-site installation
- Moving offices will not be such a logistical nightmare
- I can work from anywhere on any computer
So, there are a few hurdles to overcome.
Right off the bat, I found HoudiniEsq intriguing because it touted that it could play nice with Quickbooks, MS Word and Excel, Gmail, Google Docs, Outlook, and also the U.S. Postal Service (you can track your registered mail to see when it gets delivered – awesome feature that no one else seems to have).
Once I downloaded and installed HoudiniEsq to my computer, I had to wait for HoudiniEsq to send me a license before I could use the software.
So, I waited.
And waited some more.
And waited several hours total.
And then I gave up waiting and called tech support. For some reason I never got a product key. I didn’t see it in my spam folder. Hmm…
Anyway, finally, I get in.
Here we go – time to test the software.
Like its competitors, HoudiniEsq integrates with Microsoft Word, allowing you to build forms from template documents. If you use a particular document type regularly, you can edit the document so that HoudiniEsq can fill the document with your client information where specified. This way, you don’t have to manually change the template each time you want to use the document with a new client.
HoudiniEsq also easily syncs with Google Calendar, Google Docs, Quickbooks, and Evernote. Its ability to seamlessly sync with these programs is definitely one of the biggest draws to HoudiniEsq.
HoudiniEsq is free for a solo practitioner installing the software on a server, laptop, or desktop computer. You can’t beat free. However, setting up the software can be time-consuming and difficult if you are unfamiliar with computer networking.
For multiple users of the on-premises installed (not cloud-based) service, you will pay $1,280 per 10 users for the one-time license fee (or $7,992 for the license fee for up to 50). Also, you will pay $192 per year per user ($16 per month). For the cloud-based service, HoudiniEsq charges users $64 per user per month with no license fee.
No user-friendly walkthrough: The biggest complaint I have about HoudiniEsq is that they don’t seem to make the effort that HoudiniEsq’s competitors do to help you get started. While they have support videos and documentation in a lengthy database, there should be helpful hints for users in the software.
No free cloud-based trial: One big drawback I found was that HoudiniEsq’s SaaS offering, the web-based HoudiniEsq product, does not have a free trial. While Clio, MyCase, RocketMatter, and all the other web-based solutions have a free web-based trial, HoudiniEsq only offers a free downloadable trial. Doing HoudiniEsq’s free trial necessitates downloading and installing a ~250MB file. Then, once downloaded, the user has to register and get a license key. At the end of the day, it took me several hours to get from the download page, through installation, until I received a license key from HoudiniEsq. I know that this would turn off many users. Suggestion to HoudiniEsq: offer a free trial of your cloud-based practice management software. You’re lagging behind there.
What the heck is a local host? So, to test out HoudiniEsq, you have to install it HoudiniEsq on your computer. But, because HoudiniEsq is meant to be installed onto a server, accessible by the entire network, it is a bit of a process if you know nothing about networking. For the typical attorney user (who is not a master of computer networking), this is very cumbersome and a big hurdle to clear.
No mobile app: While not critical, HoudiniEsq’s competitors have mobile apps, so it should too.
HoudiniEsq provides a service that integrates well with third-party software. It also has a unique multiple-workspace layout that allows users to have several separate workspaces on the same screen. However, HoudiniEsq’s law practice management software isn’t the most user-friendly or intuitive compared to the other services available.