The success of any law firm depends on how well they manage their law practice. In order to produce more and implement a better service to clients, law firms have to work in a specific way to simplify their job activities. Adopting technology for practice management is one thing that can improve law firm efficiency. Even today not many of them realize this fact. Even if they do use software, they use separate products for each process which will not make much difference in work productivity. If they are using one software for timekeeping, another for accounting, and a separate software for raising invoices and similarly others for case management & documents, etc., then it becomes complex to integrate the information together.
For instance, if adjustment entries are being made in the timekeeping system for a particular client, the changes do not reflect in billing software. A bookkeeper or someone responsible for that work has to reenter the data into the billing program to adjust the time entries. This will not add any value to the result because inputting the data in different systems is a repetitive task, which is time-consuming and error-prone. Instead, if a right business application is used to integrate workflow between various office procedures where everyone can share the data, it makes a huge difference in law firm efficiency. By using a single technical platform for time tracking & billing on a cloud, law firms can have compliance in their office management activities.
Capture Time & Expense
When it comes to tracking time and expense, accuracy, recording client account details and maintaining confidentiality are essential. To make this realistic, attorneys have to forego their valuable work hours. They may lose their billing hours by recording it later or may even upset the client with wrong entries. This adds pressure to law firms as they are losing their legitimate billing amount. An automated cloud-based application incorporating time keeping & billing activities will enable them to spend less time on capturing hours and focus more on other legal challenges.
Simplify Invoice Generation
To generate professional invoices law firms should integrate billing with time tracking data. A quality legal billing software with time tracking feature help law firms have accurate billing information on client cases that can be generated as invoices. Regardless how the law firm bills their clients in different fee arrangements, the software will come up with a final figure on total invoice amount for each case type. By knowing this information, law firms can make wise decisions and focus more on clients and case types that are highly beneficial to them.
Compliance with Business Accounting
Entering time & billing data into accounting system is another tedious job in law practice management. Instead of using a standalone accounting system, integrating billing into accounts help eliminate the effort on repeated entries. Since bills are just a part of accounts receivable, combining them will give law firms a better perception on their finances.
Trust Accounting – IOLTA
Trust accounts (IOLTA accounts) are like security deposits for law firm services. When a client case is closed, the fee amount gets deducted from this account. To track trust activities such as account deposits and client approved payments, the billing system should accommodate the function of trust accounting. This will help law firms monitor retainer balances.
Email management is another tedious job for law firms. They have to segregate client email accounts and also maintain records for future reference. Law firms having multiple client accounts, sending invoices and payment reminders through email is also a time-consuming process. By integrating email into billing process, it becomes easy to streamline client correspondence. With just click of a button, invoices can be shared with clients online and email alerts can be sent for receiving timely payments.
In law practice, any client communication is stored in the form of documents and letters. A busy law firm with multiple clients may need more sophisticated document tools to maintain and manage their firm records. A standalone software may not allow linking a document to a particular customer. Billing software with document management functionality allows better management of customer documentation. It allows to assign the document to a particular client and make changes or add notes specific to the case.
Calendar & Task
A legal software with calendar feature allows easy sharing of information across law firm. Attorneys can look at the schedule and synchronize their duties according to the needs of clients. With the calendar & task feature integrated into billing, attorneys can directly translate their meetings and functions into billable hours. Overall efficiency will also help law firms prioritize tasks by importance.