Old school lawyers may look down on the newfangled gadgets those young whippersnapper attorneys use, but they are doing themselves and their practices a disservice by ignoring technology. Not only does billing software for lawyers offer practical advantages, soon it may effectively be illegal not to use it.
The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of business says there is no reason to change the system. You get your job done. You track your time, send out your invoices, generate your three-way reconciliation reports for your trust funds – and if you want to do that with a quill pen and an abacus, then that’s your business.
It is your business, but your business is becoming increasingly non-competitive by clinging to outdated methods. Attorney time and billing software makes it easier to track hours and expenses so you don’t have unbilled charges. Your invoices are clean and clear, and you always have a 360-degree view of your practice finances. You may have all that now, but software allows you to record charges, produce reports and manage your accounts more quickly and comprehensively.
As it turns out, there is a more important reason to use technology: the law says you have to. Well, OK, that’s not true. However there is growing pressure from the ABA and court systems for attorneys to use technology for the benefit of their clients. For example ABA Model Rule 1.1, Comment 8 has been amended to read, in part, “…a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology…” In other words, in the eye of the bar association it is your professional obligation to use the tools available.
Any attorney can be the target of ethics charges, particularly regarding finances. Software makes it easier to provide the documentation trail that shows you have handled client monies legally and ethically. You can prove that you managed retainers, trust accounts and other funds according to the law. The time billing software reviews your transactions, warning you of dangers like overdrawing a trust account.
It’s Not a Fad
We aren’t saying you need to grab every cool gizmo that comes along, but it’s time to recognize that computers and the internet aren’t going away. Not only are they valuable tools to a law practice but they are becoming an essential part of the legal landscape. That doesn’t mean you need a Facebook account and a tablet computer, but maybe it’s time to get rid of those paper ledgers and your adding machine.
Try out the many legal practice management software tools available. You might be surprised just how easy your job can become.