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Tag Archives: Complete Legal Billing and Time Tracking Software. Enter Billable Time
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know how strongly we feel that a law firm using generic, non- legal billing and accounting software is a law firm missing out on an opportunity to be efficient, streamlined, and state bar compliant.
Easy Soft’s legal billing and trust accounting software solves the problem. Easy TimeBill and Easy Trust are popular law-specific programs that meet legal billing and compliance requirements. And they do so no matter what your fee arrangements look like: whether they’re based on hourly, fixed or contingency fees.
Today, we’re going to focus on hourly billers. Family or divorce lawyers, wills, trusts and estates lawyers, general civil and commercial litigators, elder lawyers and commercial bankruptcy attorneys are examples of legal practices that typically employ an hourly fee structure. If your practice falls into one of these areas, then chances are, you receive client advances in the form of retainers, then track your daily billable time across multiple matters. Very likely, you track your expenses as incurred, and generate periodic (say, monthly) bills, and either pay them out of your clients’ retainer balances, or from new money received from your clients. You’ll probably need to juggle funds between your trust accounts and your operating accounts.
Easy TimeBill can handle all of this. You set billing rates for all timekeepers (changeable between matters), track your time and expenses per entry, and generate invoices accordingly. At the beginning of an engagement, you deposit retainers in your operating or trust accounts, then move funds between accounts according to how they are earned. You can generate detailed administrative reports, prepare payment reminders—and even initiate low retainer balance letters and collection efforts: all from the same legal billing program.
For operating accounts, we do recommend using a standard accounting program such as QuickBooks—preferred by CPAs. QuickBooks data entry becomes minimal with need to only enter data on hourly legal fees received (either from new funds or trust funds) and quarterly/yearly account receivables.
As for trust accounting, what Easy TimeBill doesn’t handle, the Easy Trust module will. Our trust accounting software allows you to receive retainers, track trust funds for individual matters, and even print disbursement checks across the proper number of accounts. You can generate required reports, reconcile bank account statements—even perform three-way reconciliations among your trust and operating accounts.
Life becomes easier. That’s why we call it Easy Soft.
To learn more about our billing and trust accounting software for attorneys, call Easy Soft at 800.905.7638.
We know. You went to school for years, and boast a doctorate behind your name. You contextualize eloquently, and your logic is more or less unflawed.
But when it comes down to it, how is the law really different from other professional practices?
Well, let’s see. You advise clients. So do doctors and accountants.
Second, you collect a retainer, and bill your client according to a pre-arranged plan. Consultants do this, too, as do many technologists.
Third, your brain is your biggest tool—followed closely by your legal software. We can’t list all the professions that can say this.
Fourth, you deal with forms and other paperwork on your clients’ behalf. Yeah…you have our sympathy there (as do CPAs).
But wait. Let’s look closer at the second factor. A legal retainer is different from other professions, in the sense that the money doesn’t belong to you—unless you earn the money.
Until then, you’re just a bailee.
If you’re still using generic software to track your invoicing and payments, then you’re not leveraging technology to your advantage. And you’re probably running the risk of violating a principle that your state bar takes veeeery seriously.
To be clear: attorney billing software without escrow account software is like watching half a movie. It’s like using a spreadsheet program that doesn’t scale. At all. You’re only looking at one portion of your accounting—and neglecting what’s ethically crucial.
In comes Easy Soft. You collect your retainer, earn it, transfer it from one account (trust or escrow) to the other (operating). Easy TimeBill and Easy Trust track everything—and make sure you’re on the up and up. It reconciles your accounts, too.
Easy? You bet. Is there any alternative? We don’t think so. Click here for more information.
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
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. Click here for more information.
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.
It’s the end of the month. Time to review your accounts receivable. If you compare the numbers to last month: they’ve definitely grown.
The good news? The firm’s doing great, and work shows no signs of slowing down.
The bad news? Too many of your numbers are simply carried over from last month. What this means: there are balances going into arrears by 60 days, 90 days, and more.
If this happens once a year, it’s no big deal. If this happens consistently from month to month and client to client, then it represents a waste of time, effort, bank account interest, and business proactivity. It increases stagnation, and decreases client commitment. What’s more, the longer it takes a client to pay his or her bill, the more likely that bill is to go unpaid.
If this is you: don’t panic. You’re in good company. Regardless of size, law firms all across the country struggle with collections. You can throw manpower and energy at the problem. But if you haven’t got a system in place to usher in your cash, then you’re fighting a slow—and losing—battle.
We can help. Easy Soft’s comprehensive legal time and billing software, Easy TimeBill, is designed to send out periodic and accurate reminders to your clients for balances due. In other words, the software does the work for you: it determines what the balance is, how many days your client has fallen behind, and any interest charges that apply. You simply click a few buttons—and off go your invoices: by email or printed snail mail.
Rig your collections system like a well-oiled machine. And your clients will start falling in line.
To learn more about any of our attorney time tracking software, call us at 800 905 7638.
You get a new client. She engages you, and you deposit her retainer check. Then you start work on the matter.
As the months or weeks go by, her retainer amount gets depleted. Sooner or later (but mostly sooner), you find the amount approaching, well, zero.
At this point, most lawyers have no built-in system to replenish their retainer. So, they begin to bill forward as they go.
That’s a bad idea. It’ll leave you in a net-negative situation—and you’ll be doing work against future receivables. These receivables can rack up quickly—depending on the complexity and urgency of the matter.
Instead, we suggest leveraging technology to keep your retainers replenished—and stay net-positive in your cash flow. It’s easy with Easy TimeBill program, our legal billing and trust accounting system.
Easy TimeBill our billing software for attorneys allow you to see—at a glance—what your retainer balances are for each client and matter.
Low Retainer Alerts
For each client, you can set a minimum retainer balance. You can then open your client view, and view your low retainer reminders.
The system also generates an automatic reminder letter, notifying your clients that their retainer needs to be replenished. All you have to do is either email it, snail mail it, fax it, or give it to whom ever does your books.
This way: you stay one step ahead of your client. And your client stays one step ahead of your work.
Replenishment Amount Threshold
Legal time and billing software “ Easy TimeBill” has a smart threshold option. You clearly do not want to start sending notices for small replenishments say reminders for less than $100. It would be silly to send a $100 replenishment reminder the moment retainer goes down from $10,000 to $9,900. Well, you are covered. You are able to set the minimum cut-off threshold.
Easy, right? That’s why we call it Easy Soft.
If you’d like to learn more about Easy Soft and any of our law office management software, call us at 800-905-7638.