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Author Archives: Rick Kabra
Settle in, boys and girls, for a little story. It’s a scary story but don’t worry–it has a happy ending. It’s a moralistic little tale about something that happened to one of our colleagues, but doesn’t have to happen to your lawyer billing software.
This gentleman has his vital computer files stored on a mirror drive–a mirror drive is an array of two hard drives. Every time the computer writes a file, it writes it to both drives. That way if one drive fails, the information is safe on the other drive. Recently he decided to update one of his drivers–a driver is a program that tells your computer how to operate equipment like printers, video cards and hard drives. When he rebooted his system, the hard drives had disappeared.
He spent the next two days trying to find the drives. The physical drives were in the computer of course, but Windows couldn’t see them. I’ll spare you the long story of restore points and updates and blue screens and lots and lots of profanity. In the end, he found both drives had been corrupted and all of the information was lost. Over ten years of financial records, work documents, correspondence, family photos and more were gone.
Fortunately, though the information was gone from his computer, it wasn’t gone from this world. He uses a backup utility that copies his data into the cloud. It will take him weeks to recover a hard drive full of information, but at least he has that option. Without it, he would have no way to get the data back.
So what does this story have to do with attorney time and billing software? Disasters like this can happen to any of us. A corrupted driver, a virus, a fire, a hurricane or a zombie apocalypse can destroy your computer and even your local backups. Data loss could drive a legal practice out of business so you need an offsite solution.
The cloud version of Easy Soft billing software for lawyers maintains your sensitive case files in our offsite servers. We use technologies such as mirror drives to ensure your data is protected from hardware failure as well as multiple periodic backups to keep your information safe even if the mirrors fail. Of course your data is encrypted and protected against unauthorized intrusion.
If you prefer to use the desktop version of Easy Soft time and billing software then we strongly recommend you also use a cloud-based backup solution to protect your data.
Strong backups are just one of the many advantages of cloud-based law practice management software. Contact us at 800-905-7638 to find out if the cloud is the right environment for your law firm.
Mortgage rates are plummeting. Just this week Freddie Mac reported the 15-year fixed rate hit a record low of 2.61% and the 30-year fixed rate is at 3.4%, less than 0.1% above its record low. Homeowners are rushing to refinance to take advantage of these low rates and real estate offices not using real estate title software are at a disadvantage over those who do.
When there is a rush of customers, you can’t afford to take as much time filling out the HUD closing statement as you used to. The faster you complete the forms, the more clients you can take in a typical workday. You don’t want to have to tell a potential client–or worse, an existing client–that you are too busy to get to them right now. Nor do you want to leave customers waiting long enough for you to fill out the forms that they start shopping around for another agent.
HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD cuts your closing time by up to 70%. You can process the paperwork in a flash and move on to the next client. If the refinance is an existing customer, then all you have to do is pull in the information from the previous sale, verify it is up to date and click to print the refinance form. New clients are nearly as fast–you just enter a little information and let the software do the hard work.
We realize that when it comes to the HUD 1 settlement statement, accuracy is more important than speed and that’s another advantage of using software rather than filling the papers out by hand. Calculations are performed instantly and are correct. You can be sure you are completing your closing in full RESPA compliance.
Electronic 1099-S filing puts the crowning touch on fast, accurate closing. File the forms as you close rather than doing a year’s worth of forms in a rush. All data is verified before being securely transmitted to the IRS and you get immediate confirmation the form was received.
Use our legal software for attorneys and real estate agents to bring your practice into a new era of speed, efficiency and customer satisfaction.
We often talk about how Easy HUD makes it easy for real estate agents to speed up closing times by up to 70%, as well as ensuring calculations are performed correctly. However Easy HUD isn’t just for agents. It’s the ideal real estate closing software for attorneys as well.
Real estate attorneys are often included in real estate transactions to generate documents such as rental agreements or purchase contracts. Agents can fill out boilerplate versions of these contracts but if the base document requires modification, then a lawyer must make the changes to ensure the new document is still legal and binding. Add the Real Estate Docs Module to our title closing software to get access to over 200 customizable real estate documents including agreements and contract clauses. Attorneys can easily add to these, creating their own contracts for easy distribution to the agents they work with.
Attorneys are often involved in the purchase negotiations. Buying property is not as simple as writing a check. A host of fees and taxes turn a simple transaction into an accounting nightmare, and yet to effectively negotiate a deal the attorney needs to be able to calculate how a given deal will affect the bottom line. With HUD settlement statement software attorneys can generate a comprehensive new offer within seconds, and if they use the cloud version they can access the software from anywhere they have an internet connection.
Attorneys provide due diligence by reviewing a final deal to be sure it is fair and legal. The HUD 1 statement is complex and even experienced real estate agents can make errors. Software simplifies the process and allows attorneys to make changes effortlessly. If the agent is also using Easy HUD then the attorney can simply load the agent’s data file for immediate review.
Easy HUD works well with our other products. For example attorneys can export the ledger from the real estate software and import it into Easy Trust to oversee all escrow account transactions. Add Easy HUD to your suite of legal practice management software to automate and simplify your real estate practice.
When is a dollar not worth a dollar? When it’s paid out over time. No that wasn’t supposed to be a funny joke, just a statement of basic financial principles. Divorce attorneys need to have a clear understanding of present value of assets to be able enter correct values in the settlement statement software and negotiate fair agreements for their clients.
Let’s say you have an annuity that pays you $1000 per month for 60 months. How much is that worth? The obvious answer is $60,000 and that answer is wrong for two reasons: inflation and investment. The first month’s $1000 will buy more than the 60th month’s $1000 so you can’t count every payment in today’s dollars. On the other hand if you get $60,000 today you could invest it and have much more than $60,000 after five years.
To determine the real value of that annuity you have to adjust each payment by increased value due to investment and the decreased value due to inflation. Overall that $60,000 in payments will net you a much lower amount if you accepted a buyout today.
One of the main reasons present value is important in divorce settlement is alimony buyout. Let’s say that $1000 per month is an alimony payment and the recipient has immediate bills so would like to negotiate a buyout. That total alimony agreement would have a present value of about $40,000, though the exact value would depend on other factors. Divorce software for attorneys includes present value calculators to give an objective value of how much an alimony agreement is worth for cases of buyout.
Another common use for present value is pension valuation. When a couple gets divorced, if either spouse has a pension then the other spouse is entitled to a portion of it. This gets more complicated because the full value of the pension depends on retirement age and life expectancy as well as years married compared to years worked. Again attorneys use divorce planning software that can perform these complex calculations in a fraction of a second.
The same calculations apply to other periodic payouts such an annuity or a lawsuit settlement. Without the fair and unbiased calculations from divorce software, trying to determine values that are agreeable to both parties could be nearly impossible.
The financial complexities of modern divorce settlements mean computer tools are essential even in the simplest no-fault divorces. Contact us to find out more about how Easy Soft law firm management software speeds up and simplifies your family law practice.
The larger the firm, the more complicated trust fund management can be. It’s hard enough tracking multiple matters in one account, plus other matters each with their own accounts, but then you add multiple attorneys, paralegals and other staff members and it quickly becomes an administrative nightmare. Legal billing and accounting software simplifies, automates and centralizes the process but attorneys still need to be aware of the rules governing the accounts.
First let’s get the obligatory disclaimer out of the way. We aren’t lawyers; we merely develop and sell attorney practice management software. This article presents generic trust fund regulations. Check your state laws to find out how things work where you are. The information here isn’t legal advice–but you’re a lawyer so you should know that already.
In a large practice you have multiple attorneys handling cases with trust accounts. Although legal accounting software makes it easy for lawyers to handle their own trusts, is it permissible to centralize all trust accounting functions? Yes and no. Yes you could assign a single attorney to handle all trust matters and have the other attorneys delegate trust transactions to that one, however if a mistake is made then the attorney handling the case is ultimately the one who will be held responsible.
Is it permissible to have a non-attorney handle trust transactions? Again the answer is yes and no. A paralegal, accountant or bookkeeper could handle entering the daily transactions, generating reports, balancing accounts and so on but this person must be supervised by an attorney. Software makes oversight simple as the lawyer using time billing software reviews the work done by the staff to ensure all regulations are followed.
Remember that everyone needs to know the rules on trust account management. Even if attorneys aren’t entering their own transactions, they need to periodically use the trust accounting system to review and verify that their clients’ money is being handled correctly according to the law.
Centralized trust management and a 360-degree view of trust accounts are just two of the features that make Easy Trust an essential tool for today’s legal practice. Try the product free for 30 days and discover how much simpler escrow administration can be.
Large law firms can hire teams of specialists to handle everything from balancing the books to maintaining the office computers to making the coffee. Unfortunately small firms, especially single-attorney practices, can’t afford to bring on a host of employees. The good news is that these small businesses can get the skill they need from dedicated legal billing and accounting software like Easy TimeBill.
Time and billing software is like having a bookkeeper. The software makes it easy to record your billable hours and expenses, maintain separate billing for each matter and send out professional looking invoices to your clients. You can see at a glance the current payment status of each account, automatically calculate late fees and print checks for your vendors.
Add the Easy Trust trust accounting system to the mix and you have a dedicated escrow accountant at your fingertips. Maintain your trust accounts in full compliance with strict state and federal regulations, generate three-way reconciliation reports required by most bar associations and keep each matter’s funds separate even if they are in the same account.
Attorney practice management software acts as your personal assistant, checking for conflicts of interest that might jeopardize your case. Practice management tools like calendars, to-do lists and case notes keep you organized. Document management links electronic documents to each case file so you don’t have to worry about misplacing a key file when you need it.
Get the cloud version of our attorney time and billing software and you get your own IT department. You don’t need to concern yourself with software installation, updates, data security or backups. We handle all the technical details so you can focus on helping your clients.
With the right software tools, even a one-person practice can operate as though it was an elite team of specialized professionals. Get the skills you need at a fraction of the cost of hiring even one of these people much less all of them. Your virtual assistants work day and night, don’t take vacations and don’t need medical insurance.
But you’ll still have to make your own coffee.