June 2013

Will Massachusetts Laws Affect New Jersey Divorces?

The May 27, 2013 edition of Time Magazine has a very interesting article entitled, “The End of Alimony”. The article doesn’t talk about the end of all alimony but rather the end of permanent alimony. It points to a recent Massachusetts law that eliminates permanent alimony and instead pays alimony for a period of time based on the length of the marriage. This law has triggered a nationwide discussion on alimony reform, including New Jerseybill A3909 that might affect Case Information Statement preparation.

The Time article presented both sides of the argument. In favor of alimony they pointed out that some spouses–and in our society this mostly means “wives”–give up their careers to stay home and care for the kids. After a divorce it’s not easy for these people to simply jump back in the workforce. Years of not working means they don’t have the skills, and despite laws prohibiting age discrimination it’s still a lot harder to start a career in your 40s or 50s than in your 20s.

The rebuttal is that alimony might be necessary but not permanent alimony. Give these people a few years to retrain but then expect the exes to get out and become independent. Even if they can’t get the same jobs they had before, they can still become self-sufficient. They also talk about how much of a burden permanent alimony is on the second wife, who ends up using her income to pay her new husband’s commitment to his first wife.

Our description a huge oversimplification of the issue but we have limited space. I suggest you go read the article yourself. It’s really quite fascinating.

So what is Easy Soft’s position? Pardon me while I chuckle politely and say, “No comment.” We are software developers and this is a discussion for lawyers, politicians and angry exes. We are not going to wade into the contentious issue.

However we are watching the issue with interest. If A3909 passes, will it change the Case Information Statement? We don’t know but we are prepared to modify our NJ family law software to meet the changes. This is true of all of our divorce planning software titles. We make sure to stay on top of the changes in each state so you know you are working with the latest rules and regulations regarding property division, alimony and child support.

This sort of attention to detail is a key element in our philosophy towards law practice management software. Laws change and software has to change with it. If you are not already an Easy Soft customer, try our products risk-free for 30 days to discover how committed we are serving the needs of the modern legal practice.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off
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How To Stay Competitive In The Real Estate Market

Real estate is one of the big “get rich quick” industries right now. People see enormous opportunities in the post-bust environment as the housing market recovers. With so much competition you need every advantage to stay at the front of the pack, regardless of whether you are a veteran agent or new to the industry. It’s nearly impossible to survive in the modern real estate market without title closing software.

One aspect of a successful business is speed. If you can handle clients faster than the other guy, then you have greater revenue and greater profits. In real estate the big bottleneck is the HUD closing statement. Real estate attorneys, agents and other professionals spend hours poring over these long and complex documents if they fill them out by hand, and yet by using software to generate the HUD they can reduce closing time by up to 70%.

We all make mistakes but careless errors slow you down, make you look bad to your clients, and can even get you into legal trouble. Rather than trusting your own math abilities or your capacity to key numbers into a calculator, let HUD settlement statement software do the hard work. You can be confident the software will perform the calculations accurately, and that the software will understand those confusing HUD instructions better than you do.

Finally, RESPA compliance is an important element of real estate transactions. RESPA software ensures you not only complete the HUD correctly, but that you complete it in accordance with the law. It acts as another pair of eyes looking over your shoulder and pointing out areas of non-compliance. You can still manage to violate RESPA if you try hard enough, but you are far less likely to do it by accident with the right software package.

Running a non-automated real estate business is like entering a horse and buggy into a NASCAR race. You might finish but you aren’t going to be competitive. Let Easy Soft legal practice management software bring your office into the 21st century. Download a demo of Easy HUD to see how fast and easy real estate paperwork can be.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Other | Comments Off
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Cloud-Based Software Protects Your Clients From Identity Theft

Attorneys are privy to sensitive client information and have an obligation to protect that information from theft. Failing to do so is not only a great disservice to your clients, but can get your firm into a serious liability situation. Modern cloud-based billing software for lawyers makes it easier than ever to protect your client files.

Do you still lug around a briefcase full of paper files? If a thief steals that case then all that information has now gone public. Client financial records, Social Security numbers, home addresses, asset reports are now in the hands of criminals and could lead to problems from identity theft to home invasion. And, no, that flimsy little lock on your briefcase isn’t going to slow down the thieves at all.

Many attorneys use electronic files feeling they are safer, and in many cases they are. These lawyers carry laptops running legal billing and accounting software that also indexes all case documents. The laptop is password protected so it’s all safe, right? Well no. The documents are on the hard drive and all a criminal has to do is open the laptop case, pull the hard drive and plug it into another computer to get to all your files. Even if the original thief doesn’t know how to do this, what about the guy who buys the laptop after the criminal pawns it?

The best way to protect your clients’ sensitive information is to use cloud-based attorney time and billing software. Files relevant to each matter are not stored on the local computer but rather on heavily protected remote servers. Even if someone steals your laptop, there is no compromising information on the hard drive. You’ve lost a piece of equipment but not any information. You can take cloud security one step further by changing your account password after your laptop or tablet is stolen, or even closing that account and opening a new one.

Lawyer billing software isn’t just for simple time tracking, automated billing, conflict checking and bank reconciliation. It also provides valuable security features that protect your client–and your practice–from the dangers of identity theft.

Contact Easy Soft to find out more about how our legal practice management software increases productivity, simplifies administration and improves data security for today’s busy law firm.

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New York Divorce Attorneys Keep Libraries At Their Fingertips

Divorces are typically so charged with emotion and acrimony that it is difficult for the spouses, the attorneys and even the judge to remain objective. This is why divorces often depend on the documentation. Forms like the NY Net Worth Statement are impartial analyses of the marriage, boiling the relationship down to a financial transaction. While that may seem cold to those who haven’t experienced a divorce, it is arguably best for all parties because it makes it easier to reach a quick solution.

The forms themselves are backed up by more forms: bank statements, income histories, tax records and more. Attorneys must be able to track all this documentation and produce it when required by the court or opposing attorney. Carrying a briefcase full of papers not only isn’t efficient, it’s also not safe. If your case gets stolen, then the thief has a trove of financial information and your client may face identity theft.

Modern divorces are still as form-heavy but aren’t as paper-heavy due to the latest generation of New York divorce lawyer software. Rather than storing documents in file cabinets, today’s family law attorney has a library of electronic files that keeps a client’s entire history. Of course if those files are back at the office they aren’t any use when you are meeting with the opposing attorney in a neutral location, or if you are in court.

When using desktop family law software it’s simply a matter of copying the files over to your laptop before leaving the office. However if you forget, then you show up without the documentation you need. To prevent this many attorneys use their laptops as the primary computer rather than having a desktop in the office and a laptop when on the road. Still, this system isn’t perfect.

Today a growing number of family law practices are using cloud-based NY family law software. This gives them full access to all office files from anywhere they have internet access. Not only that but they don’t have to lug around a clumsy laptop since the software can be used with a tablet. The data is safer since even if the computer gets stolen, the files aren’t actually on it. If the thief doesn’t have the lawyer’s software password then there is no way to access the online data.

Contact Easy Soft to discover why we are so excited about the potential of cloud-based attorney practice management software and how it can make your law firm run more efficiently than ever.

Posted by Amy Prokop on in Divorce Financials | Comments Off
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Is Your Real Estate Practice Unintentionally Mismanaging Client Funds?

When real estate agents receive funds to be distributed to other parties, they put these funds into a trust account. Unfortunately what often happens is the agents don’t appreciate the difficulty of managing funds from multiple clients comingled in the same account and get themselves into trouble. Without a good trust accounting system they can end up in serious trouble.

This isn’t to say agents are careless or unethical. However even highly qualified professionals can get so focused on the complexities of completing the HUD 1 settlement statement correctly that fund management is more of an afterthought. They know the numbers balance in the HUD form so they tend to assume it will work out when monies are received and paid out.

The biggest problem occurs when agents accidentally use one client’s funds to pay another client’s charges. While this might seem an innocent oversight as long as it all balances in the end, this is actually a serious error that could lead to loss of a real estate license and even criminal penalties. The “oops I didn’t know” defense typically doesn’t go over well.

Nowadays agents have access to simple and affordable HUD settlement statement software so it’s rare that agents fill out real estate papers by hand. However when shopping for real estate software it’s important to find a product that includes trust functions or interfaces with real estate accounting software that includes trust fund management capabilities. This is why we have made it easy to transfer closing ledgers from Easy HUD to Easy Trust so you can automate your trust handling functions.

You may ask if you really need a robust legal practice management software package rather than a commercial accounting program, and we would say that you do. Standard business accounting packages don’t include features such as the ability to easily track each client’s funds in one account, three-way reconciliation reports or built-in conflict checking.

Don’t trust the future of your real estate business to error-prone manual accounting or under-featured business accounting packages. Try Easy Trust risk-free for 30 days and see how simple we make trust accounting.

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How To Fight Resistance To Technology In The Workplace

You find some great new technology that is going to save time, save money, and generally make your legal practice more successful across the board. You enthusiastically roll out new legal billing and accounting software and are disappointed when you get nothing but complaints, defiance and a call to return to the old way of doing things. Simply stammering, “But…but…it’s better” isn’t going to solve the problem but there are ways you can convince the naysayers to give the new system a chance.

  • Lead From The Top – The first people you have to get on board are the top level staff. If a senior attorney is badmouthing the lawyer billing software then the junior attorneys are going to fall in behind. That doesn’t mean you try to suppress their opinions but if you win over the top people in the firm, it will be easier to convince others.
  • Listen To Concerns – Don’t dismiss the cynics even if their objections are unreasonable. Their concerns may seem trivial to you but they are important to them. For example a common fear with cloud software is the insecurity of putting sensitive information on the internet. Show them time billing software reviews from credible publications that demonstrate how encryption and other data protection techniques keep the data even safer online than it is in your office.
  • Make It Personal – An attorney doesn’t really care if the new time and billing software is going to make the bookkeeper’s reconciliations faster any more than the bookkeeper cares that the attorney’s timekeeping will be easier and more accurate. Relate the technology to each particular job and show how that person’s professional life will be improved.
  • Remember The People – We love technology here at Easy Soft and genuinely believe that the right software tools are a key component to a successful legal practice. However our software is only as good as the people using it. Your staff is the real strength in your practice.  Never push a technology solution so hard that you forget about the people.

No matter how much law practice management software will improve your firm’s performance in the long run, transition to a new system is always difficult. Approach the change in a positive and constructive manner. Value your staff’s opinions. Accept the learning curve. Do all that and you can facilitate the change.

Contact Easy Soft to find out more about how our software tools simplify and automate your legal practice.

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