September 2011

Pop Quiz: How Well Do You Understand Trust Accounting?

The bar exam and your professional responsibility class are ancient history. You’re not an ethics lawyer, and you don’t file legal malpractice suits. All the more reason we want to spring this pop quiz on you!

Q1: Which of these funds do not belong in your clients’ trust accounts?

1. Earned fees

2. Personal funds

3. Real estate escrow funds, such as a down payment on a house

4. Your firm’s operating funds

5. Personal injury settlements

6. Collections

7. Retainers and advances

8. Other settlements and judgments

A1: Numbers 1, 2, 4, and perhaps 7—depending on whether the retainers and advances have been earned.

Q2: How do you make sure this actually happens, so that you keep your nose clean at all times?

A2: Get an all-in solution like Easy Soft’s Easy TimeBill and Easy Trust. Our trust accounting software gets you in compliance and prepared ­for a knock on the door from random bar auditors—at all times.

Basically, here’s how it works.

•  You’re retained by a new client.

•  The client pays your retainer, which you deposit into your trust account. Our escrow accounting software takes note of this.

•  You track your hours and bill your client—both through our legal billing software.

•  You debit your trust account for the earned portion of the retainer. Then, you move this portion into your law firm’s operating account.

Here’s another question.

Q3: What are the five steps to keeping your trust accounting clean?

A3: Step one: keep all of your client’s funds in separate accounts. Step two: make sure your client ledger has a positive balance. Step three: make sure all money is in the proper (trust v. operating) account at all times. Step four: reconcile everything. Step five: keep paper records of your check stubs and expense receipts.

Don’t lose sleep over trust fund accounting . Follow the above rules, and you’ll always be prepared for an audit.

Easy? You bet.

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Slap a Finance Charge On It – Legal Time & Billing Software

Late payments from clients. No fun, right? No matter what kind of legal billing software you have, late payments require you to send (yet) another bill and nag your client—neither of these fun tasks. And statistics show: the longer it takes for a bill to get paid, the harder it is to collect.

The way we look at it, you might as well get something for your troubles. And if that something is a finance charge, then your client is put on notice—and realizes that there’s a cost factor attached to his or her delay. If push ever comes to shove, a finance charge also provides additional leverage for you. In short, finance charges are a winning scenario for attorneys all around.

Easy Soft’s Easy TimeBill program, our law office software now comes with a new feature: automatic assessments of finance charges on unpaid invoices (provided you wish to apply finance charges).

A little background here. We found out that our software clients-from solo practitioners to medium-sized law firms—were willing to assess finance charges for late payments. But they don’t.

9 times out of 10, you’re not refraining out of courtesy. You’re refraining because there’s no easy way to make the calculation—and compound it as time goes on. Add in partial payments—and the scenario gets even more math-heavy. (And we know from previous posts how much you love math!)

Nightmare no more! Easy TimeBill’s new finance charge feature allows you to set the interest rate (say 12%) and the grace period (say 30 days). You’re in complete control.

As you generate invoices, Easy TimeBill will look at unpaid invoices, apply the grace period, and assess any necessary finance charges.

To activate the feature, simply go to Tools. Then you select Billing Settings, then Finance Charge Settings. Then, you type in the desired interest rate, grace period, and charge type (simple or compound). Voila! Your global preferences are set, and your client now has a great reason to pay today.

Exceptions aren’t an issue: you simply uncheck the option for certain clients.

No one likes to be paid late. Time to fight back!

To learn more about our attorney billing software, call us at 800-905-7638.

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Family Law Software – New York State Divorce Calculator with Document Automation

Known for innovation and technological tools, Easy Soft once again meets the growing demands of legal software users with their popular family law software, EzSupport–NY.

A few highlights of the cutting edge tools in EzSupport – NY include:

  • An easy to use, uncluttered user interface makes data entry and understanding calculations a breeze.
  • Generate any form from a common set of data entered.
  • Automated Documents Generation:
    • Statement of Net Worth with unlimited asset and debt items
    • Common Divorce Forms (UD1 to UD14)
    • Child Support and Temporary Spousal Support Worksheets
  • Add an unlimited number of your own family law forms, such as correspondence or litigation documents.
  • All forms are fully customizable. Save forms as Word or PDF and email, all within the program.
  • SupportNY lite : Lets you collect initial case data from clients electronically.
  • Smartphone App : Calculate New York child and temporary maintenance and Alimony Buyout or Present Value and Alimony Recapture.

E z Support-NY helps New York attorneys who handle divorce cases perform formerly time-consuming divorce paperwork in seconds. The advanced tools in our new E z Support-NY program give family law attorneys capabilities they only dreamed of until now.

New York law firms interested in learning more about the unique features in EzSupport – NY software may call 800-905-7638.

About Easy Soft: Easy Soft has been a legal software leader since 1986. The company offers specialized solutions for real estate, family law, time, billing & trust account management and document automation. More than 15,000 customers nationwide use Easy Soft products to increase office productivity.

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Robots or People? We Made A Choice

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, then you know the familiar rave against government forms. Divorce forms are a particularly curious piece of work. For example, in New Jersey, the various sections of a Financial Affidavit for divorce are indexed by number or letter- not using a far more sensible, humanized system.

It’s as if we were living in a 21 st century of robot divorcé(e)s.

To keep things streamlined (if not absolutely simple) for our customers, Easy Soft’s wildly popular CIS (Case Information Statement) also collected your clients’ data under indexed tabs. The tabs’ labels were-you guessed it-numbers and letters, in deference to the New Jersey form.

Before, you’d have to go into each section separately to enter child support information, case management information, etc.

But then, we woke up from the universal robot dream.

Now, CIS, New Jersey’s most popular family law software , presents a new, Consolidated Case Info section. It’s easy to find, and it indexes your data collection efforts by the very-human, very simple name of the party- not by robot number.

For our attorney clients, this makes things far more intuitive.

There are now tabs for general information, court information, plaintiff’s information, defendant, children, your firm, opposing counsel, miscellaneous parties, and even miscellaneous values. All of the tabs are located in the same spot in the software. You needn’t hunt, click in and out, tear your hair, or turn into an automated robot to track anything down: it’s all right there at your fingertips.

Easy. Just like we always promise.

To learn more about our entire suite of family law software, call 800-905-7638. We promise you’ll get a person on the line who can answer all of your questions.

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Individual Historical Expenditures: Useful for All Sorts of Reasons

As a divorce attorney in New Jersey, you know this. Financial Affidavits are tricky to fill out. A critical component of the form is monthly expenses (also known as Lifestyle) which plays an important role in spousal support negotiations. Part of the problem is that official form (New Jersey Family Case Information Statement) only documents expenses for joint family and current party. That leaves out important parameters such as expenses for other party or even separately itemized expenses for each individual party (plaintiff, defendant and children).

Once upon a time, this odd setup required divorce attorneys using New Jersey family law software to create a manual worksheet-separate and apart from the state Financial Affidavit form. It was a pain in the you-know-what. Even CIS—Easy Soft’s raucously popular New Jersey divorce software -used to provide just two columns under costs (Part D): one for joint historical expenditures (for the intact family), and the other for current expenditures (for your client, the filer). But this wasn’t sufficient for spousal support negotiations.

Not anymore.

Now, the all-new CIS 2.2 B provides a new option: “Show Individual Historical Expenditure.” Click the checkmark, and your family law software suddenly gives you the capacity to break your clients’ historical expenditures down-by each party. Yes indeed, we’ve added three extra columns in which you can include historical expenditures for the Plaintiff, the Defendant, and the children. Separately.

And voila! Suddenly, you have a baseline that tells the whole picture-for both parties.

You can use the new tool to print a separate lifestyle / historical expenditure report in five separate columns rather than two, and bring it with you during your spousal support negotiations.

You can use the new tool to create exhibits for your court documentation-whether it’s for motion practice and/or trial.

You can use the new tool for setting a more accurate baseline for future modifications in the event of changes to the financial picture of one party.

That’s Easy Soft: improving our divorce settlement software every single minute.

To learn more about our entire suite of family law software, call 800-905-7638. We promise you’ll get a person on the line who can tell you about our software, and answer any questions you might have.

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Put Your New Jersey Divorce Clients To Work!

Problem : As a divorce lawyer in New Jersey, you spend weeks chasing down your client’s information, and then double checking to make sure that all the information is entered accurately.

Solution : Those days are gone. Now, you can finally put your divorce clients to work!

Easy Soft’s popular New Jersey family law software is out with its newest version, CIS 2.2B. In addition to many other new features, the program comes with the optional CIS lite module, which enables your clients to gather their own information. They then supply you with a form that gets uploaded—automatically—in all the right places.

Your data entry problem? Gone!

First, you email your client the CIS lite form (go to File -> CIS lite -> Save CIS lite as a Word document). Instruct him or her to open it in Microsoft Word, and fill it out in the convenience of his or her home or office.

Next, look for the completed form in your email inbox. Give it a quick read to make sure all the fields are complete. If there’s anything missing, let your client know.

If it looks good, import the form into CIS 2.2 B (File -> CIS lite -> Import CIS lite ).

If it’s a new client, the software prompts you for the client’s position: Plaintiff or Defendant? Click Continue, and then upload the form.

That’s it! The file’s been imported. All of your new client’s data is now in the system. Case forms such as Confidential Litigant Sheet, Case Information Statement, Insurance Certifications, etc. are nearly complete. You can start figuring out optimal NJ child support payments, maintenance, and all the rest: using our easy-to-use, uncluttered Easy Soft interface.

To learn more about our entire suite of family law software, call 800-905-7638. We promise you’ll get a person on the line who can answer all of your questions.

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