The onset of technological development has helped several industries in the way they handle and manage their processes. Machines and software are carefully created to aid in producing work-related outputs quickly and efficiently. Companies have invested a considerable sum of money in streamlining their process with the use of technology. However, a few more industries still need to utilize law firm billing software to foster significant progress in their day-to-day work deliverables.
Several lawyers stopped practicing in the field because of the processes that needed to be changed in the legal field. One of which is billing. Billing is one of the essential tasks of every law firm because it measures its bottom line. At the same time, it helps maintain the firm’s operations. Law firm billing and going after payments from clients takes a considerable amount of time as it involves a lot of steps that need to be carefully followed.
In this case, lawyers will need to prepare invoices, process payments, and record them. These activities constitute a huge amount of time spent on other non-billing tasks such as case analysis and many more. It is not only time-consuming, but it is also costly since you will need to allocate resources for this.
Importance of Law Firm Billing Software For Small Law Firms
Without technology in this matter, lawyers will need to prepare and print hard copies of invoices, send them to their clients, provide updates and constant reminders – especially for those overdue payments, and finally lodge it to their database. This kind of process needs workforce, time and is an additional expense to the law firm.
To solve this, it would be best to develop a billing policy and invest in billing software to speed up and ultimately eliminate the inefficient process.
A billing policy is a must to give reference to the people working in the law firm. Things that need to be considered are:
- Standardized templates and guidelines.
- The billing process.
- Invoice review.
- Disputes and resolutions regulations.
Invoice formats or designs should also be examined and scheduled as to when to send out the invoices. After this, everything should be integrated into the billing software chosen by the law firm. The billing policy created should also be made public to be accessed by the law firm workers and the clients. In this case, the billing policy can help everyone in the firm understand the workaround of the law firm.
Some law firms utilize billing software to create and disseminate their invoices digitally. With this, chances of making hard copies of invoices are lessened, which saves the law firm’s costs and nature. Most digital invoices are created using formats such as Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard (LEDES), Portable Document Format (PDF), and many more. Some law firm billing software commonly uses the LEDES format because it can handle extensive data and assess invoices for larger firms.
The billing statements are organized in codes to provide a uniform format and set schedules for when these should be sent out to the clients.
What To Look For In A Law Firm Billing Software
It is essential to choose a billing software that suits your law firm’s needs. It would be best if you were keen on selecting a billing software that offers a wide array of features that can aid your law firm in your invoicing tasks.
Below are some features you might want to consider before investing in billing software for your law firm.
It must be customizable.
It would be best to have billing software customizable and tailored-fit to your law firm’s preference. This way, you have an invoice specially templated or designed for you, a convenient format for your workers and your clients, payment methods accessible for everyone, streamlined workflow, and easy to lodge payment reports. It is best to have unique billing software and output that sets your brand and differentiates you from your competitors.
It must keep your data secure.
One important feature when choosing a billing software is the level of security to your firm. The legal field holds sensitive information that needs to be carefully protected. Each law firm keeps its client information in a secure database from hackers or data intruders. These data are essential to create invoices needed to collect payments from them. It is a must to have software that can protect the sensitive information stored. In this way, you can establish trust between you and your clients and build loyalty from them.
It must have an automated time-tracker
Time is essential in the legal industry. Most lawyers get paid because of the amount of time they spend offering their services to their clients. In this case, another feature you should look at in your billing software is the automated time-tracker. This feature saves a lot of billing time so that you can work on other tasks such as client meetings, data gathering, analyzing cases, and many more.
An automated time-tracker can aid you in precisely tracking the time spent on the project or a case you are working on. With that, it is easier to come up with an accurate bill for your clients. In addition, automated time-trackers can also aid in setting up schedules on when to send your invoices to your clients to earn revenue from them eventually.
It must provide unlimited support and guidance.
It can be difficult for new firms to navigate through an unknown or neven-been-used software. It can be quite a challenge from the start, but you can be an expert in utilizing the billing software once you have understood it thoroughly. In acquiring and transitioning to digital invoicing, constant support and guidance from the software experts are needed.
Choose a billing software that offers assistance from its developers throughout the installation and implementation. The software support team must be readily available in case of a software malfunction that can affect the law firm’s operations.
The Best Small Law Firm Billing Software
As the demand increases, there are many new billing software available in the market that you can choose from that offers all the essential features stated above or even more. However, you must select a billing software perfect for your law firm’s needs and budget when selecting one.
Quickbooks Online Software
Based on softwareadvice.com, the most reviewed and loved billing software used by several industries, including the legal industry, is the Quickbooks Online Software.
Quickbooks Online is web-based accounting software that is designed to work on the financial aspect of the business. It is used for billing purposes or creating invoices and other essential tasks, like payroll, bookkeeping, tracking expenses, financial reports, tax management, bank reconciliation, and many more.
Anyone who uses Quickbooks Online can access the software anytime via a web browser. It is very convenient since you do not have to download or install the software to use it. The best feature this software offers its users is downloading or reconciling credit card transactions, which are essential in tracking bank deposits and organizing timesheets.
The software has different plans that are priced according to the features it offers. The cheapest plan is priced at $7.50, designed for the use of freelancers or self-employed individuals. It offers limited features only. Small businesses use the simple start plan, which is priced at $12.50. This software plan offers invoice management and automated tax reports which are perfect for small business needs.
Essential plans are priced at $25 since it includes more users, time-tracking, and bill payments. The plus plan is priced at $40. This plan offers more user seats and tracking features which are needed for semi-large companies’ processes. Lastly, the advanced plans are perfect for mid-sized companies since it provides 25 user seats, training or assistance, batch invoicing, and access to premium apps or features.
Clio is a cloud-based billing software suitable for small to large law firms. The software allows law firms to easily bill clients, accept payment, track essential deadlines, and manage client cases and other essential documents. One of the best features of Clio is that it allows law firms to carry out client interactions anywhere and anytime through its mobile app.
Clio Payments allows lawyers to receive payments directly from their client’s trust or an active account for a more effortless and more convenient transaction. The billing feature also enables users to customize their bill plans, carry out automatic or manual time entry, send bills via email, and most importantly, let clients access their information in a secure client portal.
The pricing of Clio varies on the package that law firms want to purchase. They can choose from the following options:
- Clio Manage App
- Clio Grow App
- Entire Clio Suite
Clio’s platform offers integration with over 200 third-party applications, including those from law practice management software solutions, payment platforms, marketing tools, etc. That is why it is easier for law firms to track all of their transactions in one software without losing any data.
FreshBooks is web-based accounting software that takes billing out of the hands of law firms and puts it on autopilot. It has automated invoicing, online payment options for ACh and credit card, and late payment reminders to ensure all pending payments are settled to get paid faster. Like Clio and Quickbooks, FreshBooks also has precise time tracking and collaborative project tools to ensure that every minute and file is tracked and logged.
The key features of FreshBooks are its invoicing, expense tracking, payments management, and reporting. Law firms can track their expenses by attaching receipts to invoices, creating recurring expenses, and taking snapshots of their receipts. As the payments are set to auto payment reminders, tracking unsettled accounts and balances is easier. Law firms can also view financial statuses through profit and loss statements, expense reports, and tax summaries.
Another great feature of FreshBooks is the system’s time tracking module. Through its online payment option, clients can pay through Paypal, MailChimp, Zenpayroll, and Basecamp. Freshbooks allows law firms to categorize credit card transaction fees and summarize all deposits on its dashboard, making it efficient to track any discrepancies in transactions and payments. The system can extract unbilled project hours into invoices, record billable time, and provide each law firm an analysis of the time spent on each project.
FreshBooks offers 60% off for six months and a free demo for clients to assess if the software perfectly fits their preferences.
Switching to digitally-made invoices and investing in billing software is very helpful for your law firm. The processes of your firm are streamlined, from doing manual entries to automated ones. With this, you will save more time, human resources, and costs. Billing software also promotes interaction online, making it easy for legal firms to communicate with their clients, especially billing them.
Everyone is involved in the process since it is more accessible, convenient for the law firm’s workers and its clients. It is wise to purchase billing software to aid your billing needs as it does not only save you from spending too much time in creating invoices and saves on your expenses. In addition, it is also environment-friendly because you do not have to print hard copies of your invoices and deliver them through couriers to your clients.
With billing software, you can do everything you need in the financial aspects of your business in just a few clicks, which is very easy and efficient.
If you’re a law firm owner and would like help breaking down the financial health of your practice and getting your bookkeeping done right, we can help. Simply fill out the contact form below and we will be in contact with you shortly.