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Legal accounting software is an essential part of an attorney's practice management system, and frequently revolves around projects and time logs. Because law firms often bill as a function of time, work time and schedules should be highly organized to produce detailed reports for the inquisitive client. Time can be broken down into date, activity, and billable or non-billable criteria. Goals for total annual billable hours can be recorded and compared to the actual hours worked for evaluation. In addition, software can arrange invoices based on the time logged.
We wrote this guide to help those in the legal field evaluate accounting software. We'll cover the features and functionality to be on the lookout for, as well as best practices for evaluating systems.
As well as general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and other core accounting features, legal accounting software typically includes the following:
|Time & Billing||Most law firms bill hourly, so the ability to track the time spent on projects and bill accordingly is crucial for any legal accounting software. This feature often includes support for flat-fee, task-based, split, contingency, and retainer billing.|
|Contact & Client Management||Since client relationships are so important, a quality legal accounting solution will contain contact management capabilities, recording information for clients and related parties.|
|Project Scheduling||Manage your case load with a tool that stores information like deadlines, events, documents, notes, action items, billing, and payments.|
|Advanced Security Settings||Since lawyers are dealing with sensitive and often confidential information, most robust solutions will have security controls that restrict sensitive information to only the people who need it.|
|Trust Accounting||Managing a client’s funds, whether in real estate, family/estate planning, bankruptcy, or any other trust situation, brings an extra level of complexity. Trust accounting software will include features to support managing multiple financial accounts, tracking funds, designating escrow agents, and credit and debit allocation.|
Legal accounting software should be able to record billing and time information in different ways for flexible application. Although law work is often based on time billing, the right accounting software will provide a range of pay options, as listed above. A good software package can also come with abilities to report for multiple clients at different rates and organize the information according to user preferences.
When evaluating legal and law firm accounting software, buyers should consider the following: