Billing is the fuel that keeps businesses afloat. Efficient billing management is a vital part of a business and its path toward success. When it comes to legal billing, one has to be very careful because there are many important aspects to it that need to be considered. The most important aspect of legal billing is that it is regulated by various state laws. These laws lay down specific guidelines which should be followed while issuing bills. Law firms have to be careful when dealing with their clients’ money to ensure they do not violate any state laws. Thus, safe and well-structured legal billing software can be vital.
If your law firm utilizes the best available legal billing software, then the process won’t be so grueling. The software, which comes in various forms and packages, helps to effectively manage clients, speed up the process of financial transactions, keep track of finances in an orderly manner, and make sure that your firm gets the best referrals. A legal billing and management software would also ensure that the primary focus of the firm is maintained on client satisfaction and the firm puts maximum efforts on litigation and legal advice. In this article, we will focus on the issues surrounding legal billing, and the criteria one should look out for while selecting legal billing software.
Why is there a need for legal billing software?
- State rules
Attorneys are generally billed according to the state rules of ethics in their particular state. The law firms and individual practitioners are heavily regulated by these ethical guidelines. These rules lay down the amount of money that an attorney should charge a client. The rules also regulate other aspects of a law firm to ensure they are following these guidelines. As a result of these strict rules, billing disputes could arise, and in such scenarios the firm must provide evidence and details about the transactions of the case in question. In such a scenario, a legal billing management software could be very helpful.
- Retainers received from clients
Clients tend to make advance payments, called retainers, to law firms. Attorneys and law firms should take maximum care when dealing with these retainers. Many states have specific rules that regulate advance payments. It is mandatory for advance payments to be deposited into a trust account. Thus, it is essential for law firms to keep track of all the retainers they receive and deposit them into the trust account.
- Working on complex cases
Law firms tend to work on complicated cases, mergers, and acquisitions. A client could often come up with different matters within the same case. A law firm should deal with each of these matters with utmost attention. While doing so, the firm should charge each matter fairly and deal with the clients’ money with complete transparency. A legal billing software would help manage all these tasks cohesively, and help the law firm put their focus solely on their work for the client.
What are the essential features you should look for in legal billing software?
Choosing legal billing software can be a very complicated task. There are a plethora of options in the market and a law firm should buy the one that fits its own requirements the best. A thorough analysis of the features that the software is providing is needed to best match them with the firm’s requirements. Some of the key aspects a firm should look out for before choosing a software are:
- Price: Pricing of the software should play a major role when a firm decides on a billing software. The firm has its own costs to manage and it would not make sense to get a software that is too expensive. A firm should analyze its income and choose the software that best fits within its budget.
- Features: A deciding factor in choosing the software will be the features it provides. Various software includes different features, such as specific project management options for effectively managing employees, regularly updated billing templates, invoices with all kinds of details, and trust accounting. You should choose the software that has the maximum features that your firm requires.
- Project management: A law firm’s billing could also be dependent upon the project it is currently undertaking. Projects are a compilation of various transactions, so it is necessary that your firm has a project management solution. Legal billing with project management is the cherry on the top of the cake, and will help your firm perform tasks more efficiently.
- Trust accounting: State rules necessitate law firms put retainer payments into trust accounts. It is very beneficial to the law firm if the legal billing software has a feature that allows it to comprehensively deal with retainer payments and trust accounting.
- Ease of use: The software must have an easy to understand interface. Lawyers are not necessarily tech savvy, so software with a user-friendly interface will make it possible for lawyers to access its features without any confusion.
- Data back-up: Data back-up features are a necessity in legal billing software. Firms must ensure that they do not lose any client payment information, so they should look for a legal software that has data back-up solutions.
What are some of the highly recommended legal billing software options on the market?
There are multiple legal billing software options available. Some of the highly recommended ones include:
- App4legal: An all in one practice management solution for all kinds of law firms. It also has a dedicated legal billing management feature. Some of the features that set it apart are the customer portal interface and the mobile app.
- Clio: A cloud-based legal practice management solution for both small and large law firms. One of the notable features of this software is the security it provides.
- Filevine: A legal management solution that helps you keep track of your legal documents, client communications, and calendars. It includes a proper bill tracking system.