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Tag Archives: escrow accounting software
Have you ever used software so complicated that you had to hire a consultant to teach you how to use it? And how did that work out for you? When it comes to desired features in legal billing and accounting software, “horribly complicated” isn’t at the top of the list. If the software is too hard to use then you and your staff are going to end up finding creative ways not to use it.
Easy Soft’s attorney billing software, Easy TimeBill, is designed to be a simple and intuitive financial system for today’s legal practice. You don’t have to hire an expensive instructor just to figure out how to enter time sheets and expenses. You can get up and running in a matter of minutes after installation.
Don’t worry–”simple” doesn’t mean “underpowered”. Easy TimeBill has all the capabilities you need to run your law firm including multi-rate time tracking, finance charge calculation, invoice generation, electronic billing and full integration with Easy Trust, our escrow accounting software. You will find all the financial tools your law office needs in this software tool.
Although you can start using Easy TimeBill without any instruction, you’ll still find plenty of assistance when you need it. The attorney time and billing software comes with a comprehensive online help system plus you can find an assortment of training videos on the Easy Soft website that help you learn to use the software to its fullest. If you still have questions then our friendly customer service staff will be happy to help you.
In addition to the traditional desktop version, Easy TimeBill comes in a new cloud version that makes it even easier to use. You don’t need to worry about installing the software, worrying about whether it will work on your computer system, or updating it as new versions come out. The cloud version can be used from any web-capable device, even iPads and other tablet computers, and you can be confident you are always using the latest release of the software. You don’t need a computer specialist in your office to use Easy Soft law practice management software.
To answer the question, yes accounting software can also be both simple (to use) and complex (in function). Find out how easy Easy TimeBill is to use by downloading a demo or using the full version risk-free for up to 30 days.
Managing trust funds for multiple matters in a single bank account is a common practice in the legal industry but attorneys must be very careful not to let the funds intermingle. Each matter has to be scrupulously maintained as a separate entity and never “borrow” money from other matters in the same bank account. Law offices have several options for documenting trust accounts .
Manual Books – It’s rare to find a business that keeps their books in literal books anymore, but a few firms, particularly single-attorney practices, prefer manual bookkeeping. Manual bookkeeping is slow, susceptible to arithmetic errors that can take hours to track down, and clumsy when it comes to tracking multiple matters in a single account. Computers are commonplace and software is cheap so there really isn’t any practical reason to work with pen and paper anymore.
Spreadsheets – Raise your hand if you remember VisiCalc. Wow, you’re old! VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program released in 1979 and was designed to mimic the manual ledgers bookkeepers used. Trust fund accounting with a spreadsheet is a step up from manual books since it eliminates arithmetic errors, and nearly every computer comes with Microsoft Office preinstalled so the software is effectively free. However it is difficult to track individual matters within an account or reconcile an account without a lot of sorting and other manipulations.
Personal Finance Software – Applications designed to help consumers track their checking accounts and credit cards add reconciliation functions and are significantly less expensive than business software. Matters can be tracked in an account by using the client as a budget category. On the other hand there are no protections to prevent you from overdrawing a client’s trust fund, a critical error in trust management, and no ability to network across multiple attorneys. This might work for a single-attorney practice but is not an ideal solution.
Business Finance Software – Products like QuickBooks or Peachtree offer double-entry bookkeeping, which reduces the chance of keying errors by requiring all transactions to balance out. They can be networked across the firm and data can be manually transferred to escrow accounting software like Easy Trust but still are more limited than solutions tailored to legal trusts.
Dedicated Trust Applications - Only legal billing and accounting software will have all the features needed for fast, accurate and secure trust management. Integrated trust features ensure that each matter is accounted for separately. Attorneys can see trust status at a glance without having to pick it out from all the other transactions in the bank account. Automatic warnings let the firm know when a trust balance is getting low, and three-way reconciliation ensures no money falls through the cracks.
Attorneys might be worried that specialized legal software is more expensive than the alternatives, but Easy Soft’s law practice management software is surprisingly inexpensive. Try our trust account suite and if you aren’t completely satisfied, then return it for a full refund within 30 days.
When it comes to your trust accounting, there’s one requirement that affects lawyers and other legal professionals-and doesn’t exist in most other professions. It’s called the 3-way reconciliation report.
As the name suggests, 3-way reconciliation balances three things. It balances your internal books against your trust account bank statement. Then, it reconciles individual balances of all of your matters with internal book and bank balances.
Contrast this with an ordinary reconciliation in which you simply balance your books against your bank statements. The per-matter balancing act adds a crucial step-and if you don’t have the right software, it’s a time-consuming one, too.
So: why does the most state bar trust bookkeeping guidelines make this a mandatory requirement?
As with any ethical rule, the policy is intended to guard your clients against negligence-and worse. If you simply balance your books, there’s no way to know if there’s been any misappropriation of funds among any of your matters. The procedure is also intended to eliminate opportunities for masking fraud under the auspices of another client’s matter.
A 3-way reconciliation for your trust or escrow account is truly the only way to know what is happening in your trust accounts . Because all of your balances are being broken down by matter, then you-and any auditors who might come sniffing around-can spot any discrepancies immediately.
Luckily, our trust fund accounting software makes things super easy. It does what all good technology should. It takes out any heavy duty lifting, and the laborious mechanical work. And it simply automates everything.
Enter the numbers once into Easy Soft’s Easy Trust software, and the software generates all the numbers for you. You don’t have to think about it, or figure out how to do it. You don’t have to play accountant at all. With the click of your mouse, it’s there! You simply have to remember to do it.
Easy, right? We know.
To learn more about our trust accounting software, call us at 800 905 7638.
Business bank account recordkeeping is simple. You make deposits and withdrawals. You can keep more detailed records for your taxes, financial statements, and other reasons—but you don’t have to. No one is looking over your shoulder.
Trust accounting is different. The state bar requires you to allocate each and every deposit (or credit) and withdrawal (or debit) to a given matter. The failure to do so is grounds for disciplinary action.
This sounds easy enough. One matter per deposit or withdrawal, right?
Not so fast.
Let’s say you deposit retainers from 100 clients in your law firm trust account. At the end of the month, you debit those retainers against work performed on each client matter.
You’re shifting money from one account into another. But you’d prefer not to issue 100 different checks to your law firm’s operating account. You’d rather make a single withdrawal from the trust account-and allocate that withdrawal to your various client matters.
To do this in Easy Trust our trust accounting software is-as our name promises-easy.
First, you create a new “transfer” matter, and give it a name. We’ll call ours the “Internal Funds Transfer.”
If you’re crediting a single deposit to multiple matters, then you select the new transfer matter on the left, add the new deposit transaction, fill in Payor and Payee, and then select the Credit (Deposit) Allocation function.
If you’re debiting a single withdrawal to multiple matters, then you follow the same steps, with a new withdrawal transaction, and the Debit (Withdrawal) Allocation function.
Select the matters to be credited or debited, and fill in the entire amount. The amounts will be now allocated among the multiple matters—and your final transfer matter balance will be 0.
Easy, right? That’s why we call it Easy Soft.
If you’d like to learn more about Easy Soft and any of our escrow account software, call us at 800-905-7638.
Every law firm tries to keep its trust books clean and accurate. But it either fails, or it spends significant time and resources on a standard process that should be simple, streamlined, and utterly straightforward.
Take the retainer check. Retainers are the lifeblood of your business. They infuse your firm with much-needed cash flow- and signify a client’s trust and commitment in you.
But as you well know, client retainers require special treatment. For one matter, you might need to make an initial deposit to a trust account , and transfer balances as fees are earned. This alone will complicate your back office operation significantly if your billing system isn’t capable of taking care of it.
Another trip-up point is this: you’ve got to show a client’s remaining retainer balance on his or her invoice.
If your system provides integrated billing and trust bookkeeping, you’ve won the battle against trust fund tracking. This can work to prevent common trust errors (e.g. ledger card overdraft), and provide a bank reconciliation tool and three-way reconciliation reports.
Easy Soft’s Easy Trust software does just this. And it does it in conjunction with Easy TimeBill—our ethically compliant legal billing software. This makes the trust accounting process seamless and effortless- once you set everything up.
As you consider your trust accounting obligations, know that we’re rooting for you to win. And so is our software: specifically designed to make your operations compliant, efficient, and pain-free.
To learn more about our state bar-compliant escrow software, call Easy Soft at 800 905 7638.
Pitfall # 9 – Billing Systems Unable to Handle Varied Fee Arrangements
Most law firms handle a variety cases and use an assortment client billing arrangements, such as hourly, retainer based hourly, fixed and contingency. Even if you predominantly practice one type of law and bill hourly, you are likely to have cases where you want a client to advance funds (retainer) or prefer a fixed fee or a contingency basis arrangement.
Your legal billing software must be able to handle all types of billing arrangements and the intricacies that arise. For example, when it comes to client retainers, states generally have strict accounting rules that require depositing unbilled/unearned client funds in trust accounts. Thus, it is important that your billing system can identify client funds vs. firm operating funds and process them correctly to meet trust accounting requirements.
You do not want to run into a situation where your legal billing system cannot process a fee arrangement properly. For a complete and uniform legal billing solution and to avoid Pitfall # 9, choose a system that can handle every type of billing arrangement your firm uses or may use in the future. Stay tuned for Pitfall # 8.
Register for Easy Soft’s interactive webinar, How to Avoid Legal Billing Pitfalls. Learn how to evaluate systems that can streamline your back office operation for legal billing, trust account management and collections, and in turn, tighten state regulation compliance and improve your firm’s financial picture.