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HoudiniESQ 2.0

I just did a demo of HoudiniESQ 2.0. As it is new, I cannot find any reviews on it. Anyone have thoughts on it/experience with it?

Thanks!

Comments

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    Is it still built in Flash or Silverlight or whatever it was? That was one of my major complaints the last time around. Well, that and it was built as a server-client software so running it on your own computer involved some really complicated setup gymnastics.

    Also, you might be interested to look up some past reviews that include information about the chief developer/CEO/whatever. You may find his attitude relevant.

    What was your impression based on the demo?

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @samglover,

    Not sure what it's built in. The demo was of the SaaS/cloud based solution with plugins for Outlook (which allows to link an email to a matter in Outlook - filing it in HoudiniESQ - while attaching billing information to it) and Word (which allows opening and saving - with billing info - to HoudiniESQ as well as template use against data in HoudiniESQ).

    2.0 appears to be a significant revamp of the software, so not sure the older reviews would be accurate - although, I noticed the user reviews of the prior version were generally positive on Captera.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    I still haven't tried it, so no. I didn't think much of the previous version, and nothing about it led me to believe the company understood how to make good software, so I haven't given it much consideration since then.

    If you're going to give it a try, though, I'd love it if you'd come back and share your impressions, especially if you can compare it to, say, Clio, which seems to be the standard by which other cloud-based practice management software is judged these days.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @samglover,

    I read that from 5 years ago and also read about the litigation with a developer and a law firm and the related alleged retaliatory blog posts from 2013. Still, based on the demo of the software, it seemed like a solid product. But, unless I'm missing something, the alleged conduct does not rise to a level of disqualifying the product from consideration. Am I missing something?

    Not sure how it stacks up item by item to Clio over all. As you know, I didn't like the way Clio stores emails (by requiring them to be sent to a specific email address for a matter). Conversely, HoudiniESQ 2.0 has an Outlook plugin that allows you to select a matter form a pull down menu and at the same time add billing information (like duration and description) to associate time with the email while filing it. Given how responsive Clio is allegedly and the fact that this shortcoming is in the reviews online, I'm surprised they haven't addressed this. Any idea why they haven't created an Outlook plugin to address email flow - like HoudiniESQ and Smokeball have - to make improve Clio?

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    Here's the Clio discussion thread if you'd like to discuss Clio. The developers do keep an eye on it, and respond to inquiries like yours.

    With regard to HoudiniEsq, I do think the company is important because you have to trust the company with your clients' data. Even if they aren't storing your clients' data on company servers, you are trusting their code, their ethics, their security safeguards. Someone who can't take criticism may not be the sort of person willing to acknowledge security flaws.

    Do I think that applies to HoudiniEsq? I think you've got to examine the evidence and decide for yourself, but it's at least relevant.

    Again, though, you've got to try the software to see whether it works for you. Everything looks its best in a demo. It's when you actually try it yourself that you'll start noticing flaws.

    So try it and let us know how it compares.

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @samglover

    If I go forward with it, I'll try to let you know how it goes. But, given I've never implemented Clio, would be difficult to provide a meaningful comparison. Perhaps you can arrange to get an account for review purposes?

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @samglover

    I wrote in the Clio thread last week as you suggested, but they didn't reply. I also noticed that customers of theirs have (in other discussion groups "discussion groups") also requested such functionality, but it's still missing.

    I contacted Clio through their website. They pointed me to a third party fee based add-on that only goes halfway (letting users incorporate emails into a matter through an Outlook add-on, but not attach billing details to an email) ("Click to File" is the add-on).

    When I followed up to ask why they don't just add this functionality (and Word integration) they replied with a well worded we might be looking into it: "I have no doubt that these improvements and added features are something that our team here at Clio is looking into implementing to the product sometime in the future. However as I say, our Development team is constantly working on various projects, and I unfortunately do not have an agenda from them to refer to to provide you with an accurate timeline or estimation of when any of these features may be added to Clio."

    Given the heavy usage of Office/Word/Outlook in law offices, I would think that excellent integration with these products would be a priority for every vendor. Any thoughts?

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    Since Clio is actually really plugged into its users, it may be that click-to-file in Outlook actually isn't as in demand as you suppose.

    That doesn't mean lawyers don't use Outlook. Of course they do, although Google Apps has a growing share of the legal market, too (and there's overlap with Outlook since Google provides an Outlook sync tool). But not all lawyers need to associate emails with matters. I used to think that was a dealbreaker feature that I wanted, but I got over it pretty quickly once I realized that search is superior to filing.

    Whether you use Outlook, Mail.app, Gmail, or Thunderbird, it's easy enough to find what you need, when you need it. And it's also pretty easy to bundle up all your messages for archiving periodically or when you close the file. And with delegation, it's easy to let your colleagues access your email when they need to. That may not be adequate for some practices, but it worked well enough for me.

    So no, I don't think it is strange that it's not a priority for every vendor. I think click-to-file in Outlook reflects a more traditional approach to managing client communications that isn't strictly necessary with today's email management tools.

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach
    edited August 2016

    I'm considering starting using HoudiniEsq 2.0 (the version they just rolled out) for our firm. They offer a cloud version and a locally installed version. They state both products can offer the same functionality (essentially, you run the software on a computer or they do it for you on their server at a higher price).

    They offer it in both PC and Mac. It also has plugins for "Outlook, Word, WordPerfect, Acrobat, Excel, QuickBooks, Calendar Rules, SoftFile, Google, B.I.R.T, US Post Office, and more." (I'm interested to see how it plays with Outlook and Word in a windows environment.)

    But, since anyone can download the product and use it for free for 30 days, I think it's the perfect time for reviews - hint to @samglover :smiley:. I plan to take the time to kick the tires and share my thoughts in the next few weeks, but as others in this community have far more experience than I with the competitors, it would be far more enlightening to have others share their views.

    Here is where you can download the software: click here

    Looking forward to sharing my review and hearing yours.

    -Richard

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @lisaneedham, any thoughts on reviewing HoudiniEsq 2.0?

  • ramseyhanafiramseyhanafi San Francisco, CA
    edited August 2016

    The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing uses Houdini for its public filing and case management for claimants and their lawyers. Myself and most of the employment plaintiff's bar here are not very big fans. I would never consider using it myself because of this. It is buggy, slow, and I do not trust it, and I would be terrified of trusting it to my entire practice. In its public implementation with DFEH it has necessitated many harried calls to the wonderful hard working real people at the DFEH to sort out its various issues.

  • dlowreydlowrey Nevada
    edited September 2016

    Houdini 2 is not using Flash, the developer points this out as a major improvement. I am testing it now. So far it looks very customizable, but I need more time to peel back the layers.

    Caltrans, US Dept. of Treasury and NC Medical Board are also supposed to be users.
    I'd like to hear from any attorneys in those agencies about their experiences.
    -DL

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach
    edited September 2016

    @dlowrey, thanks for the post. I haven't had a chance to test it yet. Curious what your take is. Also, what other products have you looked at/tested?

  • Any update from anyone who has used HoudiniEsq 2.0? Richard, ... dlowrey ? Thanks.

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @Jack Birch, haven't installed or tired it yet. You?

  • No, hoping to review some recent comments before taking the "plunge"

  • richardsrichards MiamiBeach

    @Jack Birch, from when I spoke to them last, if you are OK doing a local install, you can try it for free on one computer, but they may have been changing that policy.

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