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Legal-Billing-Workflow

The Winning Argument: Modern Legal Billing (Part 1 of 3)

We’ve likely all heard the saying before, “good things come in threes,” and the mantra can be applied to advice, too. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing three posts as part of a new series, “The Winning Argument,” that will highlight key advantages of utilizing modern legal-specific technology in your law firm.

There are two types of law firms that often experience hardships in their daily operations because they’re not using modern legal-specific software. The first type of law firm is one that, while utilizing a legal program, uses an aging legacy desktop software. The second type of firm is one that uses a combination of cloud-based products, which may or may not be designed for law office operations. No matter the firm’s current setup, it’s important to realize the shortcomings of these common scenarios and how they may affect the law practice.

Faulty Setup #1: Legacy Desktop

  • Missing cloud benefits (mobility)
  • Hardware/server requirements and maintenance
  • Lack of modern functionality

Faulty Setup #2: Separate Cloud-based Solutions

  • Requires separate, generic accounting program
  • Lack of standard compliance/operations accounting functions

So, consider your current setup. Is the software you’re using outdated? Do you use one, two, three, or more tools to handle these essential functions? Are some cloud-based? Are they able to communicate with each other or are you inputting the same data in each separate program?

In today’s post, we’re focusing on the area of legal billing software and discussing how modern legal-specific technology can take your workflow to the next level by not only simplifying processes but also improving your client relationships.

The typical legal billing workflow looks something like this:

Legal-Billing-Workflow-Chart

In order to fulfill all of these billing needs, the law firm of the 21st century requires four major capabilities:

  1. Mobility/web access to allow for in the moment record keeping and entries.
  2. Efficient bill generation and review capabilities that promote accurate billing.
  3. Periodic collection and account replenishment reminders for clients keep it top of mind for them and off of the to-do list for the law firm staff.
  4. Fully integrated and modern delivery and payment options — client portals and online payment options keep communication clear and payments easy for clients.

As you consider practice management and billing alternatives, there are several distinguishing features to keep in mind. Compliance, for example, is tightly related to billing and accounting, so it is crucial that these functions are connected and work together seamlessly. While in the legacy space this may not be an issue, not all cloud-based tools are created equal, and many integrate with generic business accounting tools like QuickBooks for billing and bookkeeping needs which pose issues for law firms. Specifically, this produces two main struggles:

  • Separate billing & accounting
    • Costs, invoices, matter parties, and more all involve billing as well as accounting. Not only does this require two applications, but it also increases the amount of double-data entries and accuracy concerns that can arise.

  • Lacking legal-specific functionality
    • Many of the functions discussed in this post are unique to law firms, and others such as trust accounting and tax-tracking should also be handled using legal-specific tools. The reporting and compliance regulation that your firm’s needs will not be found in a generic billing or accounting program.

While billing has been, and always will be, a central component of running a successful law firm, practice management technology like CosmoLex allows firms to transform their systems and processes while enhancing compliance at the same time. To learn more about the ways your billing practices can be improved by utilizing a legal-specific solution, watch our on-demand webinar The Winning Argument: Modern Legal Billing. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next two posts in our Winning Argument series on Legal-Specific Business and Trust Accounting tools.

Erica Birstler

Erica Birstler is the Director of Strategic Communications at CosmoLex -- developers of a fully-integrated, cloud-based legal practice management, billing & trust accounting system specifically designed for solo and small law firms. Erica's degree is in Business Administration and she has over 6 years of experience in the legal software industry, catering to the specialized technology needs of small to mid-sized law firms. Erica has given numerous presentations across the country on legal technologies such as law practice technology management, cloud computing, and legal billing & trust accounting compliance.