The success of a law firm can largely depend on how well they practice their time and billing management. As technology continues to advance, the law industry is turning to legal billing software for solutions to common problems. In the hopes that they may effectively reduce the mounting pressures of the day to day workload. This has created a trend of legal professionals who are stepping away from traditional methods, and are turning to cloud-based programs. Technology that allows law firms the ability to quickly streamline routine tasks, and achieve maximum productivity.
However, not all online legal billing systems are equal, and with an endless list of available options, how does one find the best software solution for their firm? The legal billing software should be of high quality, easy to use, and offer flexibility in billing. Additionally, it should enable the ability for multiple attorneys to quickly track their invoices at different variable rates. A dedicated billing software will also increase the attorney’s invoice efficiency. Eliminating the loss of billable hours, while reducing the risk of billing conflicts between clients and attorneys. The following list contains 5 key factors that all law firms should confirm before choosing a cloud-based legal billing software.
Varied Fee Arrangements
Proficient software programs should accommodate different fee structures, so attorneys can efficiently handle different client cases with ease. Typically, today’s clients are seeking alternative options to hourly billing, and are ready to negotiate various fee arrangements. This means the software should offer flexibility in order to meet their billing needs.
Flexibility in Bills
Billing becomes complicated when invoices need to include more than one payee on a particular case. Sometime, bills require different fee arrangements, which could be hourly, fixed or based on a percentage. The billing software a firm selects should be able to accommodate these multiple arrangements. In addition, it should also ensure the secure delivery of bills to clients by modern methods, such as email.
Support for Billing Standards & Custom Billing Codes
In e-billing, when invoices are generated, tasks are defined by standard activity codes like LEDES, ABA and UTBMS. Sometimes, legal professionals create their own abbreviations as task codes. This makes invoice generation easier and reduces the number of errors. A good billing system offers seamless support for all standard activity codes defined for legal practice, including custom code formats.
Integration with Other Software
The billing software should be able to share information with standard email programs (Microsoft Outlook), and accounting systems like QuickBooks®, TABS®, etc. The feature to seamlessly integrate with other systems will save time in data entry and improve efficiency. It will also minimize errors and ensure billing accuracy.
Because most law firms require a security deposit (retainer) they must deal with trust funds (sometimes called IOLTA accounts). This amount will be deducted from the final bill when the client’s case has been completed. Keeping track of the various fees entering and exiting a firm’s trust account can quickly become convoluted. A smart software program will have built in functionality for IOLTA accounting. Meaning, the program will automatically record client approved payments and track it accordingly.