When evaluating new technology, you should start with thinking more about your firm’s day-to-day operations and how those procedures lend themselves to your requirements.
You’re probably constantly in the process of putting together a requirements list to include certain solutions, but let’s dig a little deeper into the questions you should be asking to ensure you’re getting the features you want from your legal practice management software solution.
Legal software should make timekeeping as easy as possible, so make sure that any software you’re considering has an intuitive interface. Next, you need to think about whether the new system meets your rounding requirements. Some firms bill in quarter-hour increments, while others bill by every one-tenth of an hour. These details need to be communicated and understood prior to diving into the rest of your timekeeping requirements.
Let’s start with the basic questions:
Some systems make you manually enter in everyone’s rates at the start of a new matter, while others let you create and assign those rate tables as you go. With that in mind, additional questions to consider include:
It’s not a secret that no two clients are alike; the same is true for their billing needs. Being able to accommodate clients’ finances doesn’t just help your firm stand out, it also increases the likelihood of you getting paid on time. The key to determining billing requirements is to ask yourself the right initial questions, like:
How you choose to bill your clients, or how they request to be billed, will play a huge role in whether a client wants to retain you from the start. Do not take these considerations lightly as you build out your requirements!
If you don’t care to track the productivity of your allocation in compensation, then you are opening your door to a lot of software options. But, if you do care about details like this, you need to look deeper into how your software options handle flat fee billing.
As your firm grows, the one surefire thing your management will need is reports. Off-the-shelf reports may work for you in the immediate term, but the ability to produce reports on any metric on the fly is invaluable.
For your reporting requirements on billing, you need to address some specific questions:
The more intricate your billing needs get, the more advanced and granular your software needs to be. If you need to generate flat-fee bills and statements, complete trust accounting, and perform trust replenishments, you’ll need to consider additional key accounting details when evaluating legal practice management software.
With billing comes accounting needs. When you’re evaluating a software’s accounting system, the first thing you should ask is if you want integrated accounting or a system that can integrate with QuickBooks.
Fully integrated accounting enables you to be more efficient and prevents the common mistakes that occur as a byproduct of inputting manual entries into multiple systems. If the system is fully integrated, think about whether or not you use cash-based or accrual-based accounting.
When you’re evaluating individual vendors, consider: