Ethics Protection Software
Money management is one of the leading sources of ethic charges against attorneys. Lawyers suspected of padding their hours, inventing expenses or otherwise inflating their bills better have a good paper trail to prove their invoices are accurate. Any documentation is better than none, but ideally law firms should be using dedicated legal billing and accounting software to give the level of documentation and detail that might be needed when facing an ethics inquiry.
Consider how complicated it is to bill for time. Attorneys will need to account not only for every fractional hour billed, but also who actually did the work. Even simple cases often involve multiple parties each doing part of the work. Hours billed by a senior partner are going to invoke a higher rate than a paralegal’s research or an accountant’s number crunching.
Trust Fund Management Ethics
If money is the main source of ethics charges, then trust fund management is probably the leading cause of money problems for law firms. Unfortunately it is common for trust fund managers to play fast and loose with the funds, assuming it will all work out in the end rather than actually tracking the balance for each matter separately. That’s not only unprofessional, it’s illegal.
Law offices need to use legal accounting software capable of treating each matter separately. Although the actual monies are often in one shared trust account, if even a single penny of Mr. Smith’s retainer pays Mr. Jones’s expenses then the firm is in trouble. Dedicated software treats each matter as though it were a separate account. In addition, most states require three-way reconciliation reports for trust funds, something generic financial software can’t produce.
The Paperless Paper Trail
Any law office can be the focus of ethics charges, whether there has been any wrongdoing or not. Documentation — the so-called “paper trail” — is key to proving innocence. The good news is that the paper trail doesn’t have to be made of actual paper. Multiple cases have shown that electronic records are just as acceptable as hardcopy documents.
Billing software for lawyers provides the electronic documentation necessary to prove a firm handled money responsibly. Modern software tools are easy to use, provide accurate calculations and generate reports needed by the office and required by the state. Generate the proof you need with the click of a button.
If you aren’t using the latest legal practice management software then you are leaving your law firm at risk. Don’t wait. Start using Easy TimeBill, Easy Trust and our other legal software applications to protect you from frivolous ethics charges.