The Paperless Paper Trail: Protect Your Practice with Attorney Time and Billing Software
Is your law practice ready for an audit? Law firms are often the target of ethics inquiries and you need to be sure you can back up all of your financial transactions with an unimpeachable paper trail. Of course nowadays the paper trail often isn’t paper, and billing software for lawyers makes it easy to document your finances for your own protection.
Easy Time & Expense Entry – It’s a mistake to trust your own memory. If you try to reconstruct your work schedule or expenses after the fact, you will inevitably make a mistake. If you under-bill a client then it’s unfair to your practice; if you over-bill a client then it’s fraud. Cloud-based software allows attorneys to enter hours and expenses on their smartphones from any location.
Matter-Based Billing – It’s not enough to track your expenses overall, or even to track expenses by client. You must document all hours, expenses and payments by matter. Generic billing software can’t do this but legal billing and accounting software can. If a particular client files a complaint, then you can quickly bring up a specific report that shows just that client’s case transactions.
Trust Accounting You Can Trust – One of the leading sources of ethics complaints against lawyers is the mishandling of trust accounts. It is imperative that you document every penny of trust money and where it goes, and that you never even accidentally use one client’s trust monies to fund another client’s expenses. Many billing products have escrow software built in so you can manage your trust accounts just as easily as you manage your office accounts.
A Natural Disaster Is No Excuse – The night before the audit, a terrible fire roars through your office or a hurricane devastates the city. Is an auditor going to accept that you lost your records? No. Today’s electronic record keeping means there is no excuse for not having a full backup of all of your expenses and case files. Desktop-based billing solutions are easy to back up, and cloud-based products back themselves up automatically.
You can’t afford not to document every financial transaction your practice makes. No matter how honest and trustworthy your firm is, you might someday have to prove that to a judge. If you are still using manual bookkeeping or generic business software, then it is time for you to investigate dedicated attorney practice management software solutions.