Every lawyer wants to put as much work time as possible toward billable hours, yet determining how best to do that presents a challenge. Which non-billable tasks can be streamlined or eliminated?
Popular accounting tools like QuickBooks®️ can seem like they’re saving time, but because such software is generic—and not legal-specific—it can create challenges and tangles in a firm’s workflow.
Instead, by using accounting software that’s part of your practice management system, you can bridge the billing and accounting gap and reap five key benefits for your firm.
1. Up your firm’s productivity
The problem with using a generic accounting tool is that there’s a hidden cost. You and your team must put work hours into moving information from the accounting program to your billing system and vice versa.
While this may not seem like much of an issue to start, several problems emerge when you break it down.
For one, this type of setup has you committed to entering the same information twice—once in your accounting system and again with your billing. Crossover points, such as client costs, retainer management, and invoice payments, all double the error rate when entering data.
On top of that, your records in the separate systems need to match—necessitating more time spent on double-checking accuracy between records.
Both of these task areas—the duplicate entry and the doubled record-keeping—eat into valuable time that could be better spent engaged in billable tasks.
2. Gain a bird’s eye view of your finances
When your billing, matter accounting, and firm accounting are integrated, it creates a more detailed and accurate picture of your finances.
Not only is it helpful to have a clearer understanding of how you’re doing, but using an integrated system also lets you track and collect data. Harnessing the power of data and metrics can help you measure your firm’s successes and meet goals.
3. Improve accuracy
Integrated billing and accounting can also help your firm improve accuracy in a few key areas.
For instance, having essential details in one centralized location can be immensely helpful when it comes to client matters. This approach can aid in cost recovery, too, such as by enabling better tracking of items for reimbursement.
Linked billing and accounting also cleans up tangles with invoice payments: no more confusing invoice or matter reference numbers, incorrect amounts, or erroneous general ledger allocations.
Likewise, streamlining helps alleviate issues with trust ledgers—it takes significantly more effort to keep up with duplicate records. If the billing system’s incorrect, you risk overdrafting or commingling client funds. In other words, streamlining can help keep your firm compliant.
4. Eliminate complex syncs
Even syncing different systems doesn’t always provide the hoped-for answer—especially where critical data is concerned.
Instead, syncing can create tiers of potential problems. It can be challenging to sort through which data is tracked and if information moves in one or two directions. And when issues come up, figuring out who to contact or how to make corrections after the fact can both become their own tasks.
5. Free your firm from generic accounting tools
Legal accounting isn’t the same as standard small business accounting. It also includes matter accounting and compliance regulations—meaning that generic tools don’t fit the need, at least not without extra hours from the firm’s team to rework the system into something they can use effectively.
Instead, legal-specific tools can help a firm stay compliant through matter management, legal-specific general ledgers, trust accounting safeguards, and compliance reporting.
Shed the extra costs of generic accounting
Ultimately, a generic accounting system costs your firm more than just the product fee. It costs your team hours that could be spent on billable work—and it means your firm has to work harder to stay compliant.
Conversely, using a legal-specific accounting system that’s integrated with your practice management system can reduce non-billable hours, decrease your compliance risk, and streamline your workflow.
To learn more about streamlining your law office’s billing and accounting processes, watch the complete webinar 5 Key Benefits of Streamlining Your Billing & Accounting Workflow.