LexisNexis has updated some of its software for law firm accounting, but the upgrades only make it harder to figure out the LexisNexis product line.

PCLaw had been a stand-alone law firm accounting program for many years when LexisNexis acquired it in 2005. Over the years PCLaw had begun to accumulate features for timekeeping and case management, although they were underdeveloped compared to the competition in those niches. LexisNexis introduced new versions of PCLaw and pushed those features a bit, but PCLaw began to look like an abandoned stepchild compared to Time Matters, also acquired by LexisNexis and given a major push. When LexisNexis introduced Billing Matters, full-featured accounting software, it became even harder to figure out how PCLaw fit into the company’s product lineup, since the two programs almost completely overlap each other.

PCLaw has now gotten a major overhaul, including a name change. A big welcome for “Lexis® Back Office Powered by PCLaw™“! (The name is so clumsy that it has to have been chosen by a committee.) Here’s the new web site (the old PCLaw web site has been turned off). The updated program integrates credit card processing and a payroll service, and there’s an overall impression that LexisNexis will integrate it with all of its other programs and services except Billing Matters. So which is the stepchild? Billing Matters was originally conceived to steal market share from Timeslips but I’m not sure it ever caught on; perhaps it’s the product that will be allowed to languish.

UPDATE 09/06/07: Ah! It’s not just PCLaw. LexisNexis has re-branded all three of its case management and law firm accounting products and rolled out updated versions of each one – so although it still looks like a confusing, overlapping collection of software, at least the names are consistent. Congratulations to the committee that named Lexis® Front Office powered by Time Matters®, Lexis® Back Office powered by Billing Matters®, and Lexis® Back Office Powered by PCLaw™!