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Accounting, Billing, and Practice Management Converge in the Cloud

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, November 8, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire Today's TL NewsWire Hot Product is cloud billing and practice management software that now includes full business accounting, eliminating the need for a third-party solution (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to many previous TL NewsWire Hot Products, including cloud timekeeping software for small and midsize firms that automatically captures and categorizes your time. Don't miss the next issue.

It's hard to believe but lawyers once carried both a cell phone and a Palm Pilot, and earnestly debated the benefits of specialized hardware. More recently, lawyers have debated specialized software versus all-in-one software. The latter has the momentum, especially the convergence of accounting, billing, and practice management functions.

Firm Central in One Sentence

Thomson Reuters' Firm Central is cloud practice management and billing software (rated A by TechnoLawyer) that now includes full accounting functionality for front and back office management in one solution.

The Killer Feature

"Having the accounting built into the practice management system is extremely useful, more accurate and a huge time saver," says elder law attorney William B. Rambaum of William B. Rambaum PA.

One of the principal reasons Firm Central saves attorneys like Rambaum time is because the new accounting system eliminates the need for third-party accounting software. Firm Central now has all the same core functionality as products like QuickBooks — chart of accounts, check printing, credit card payments, general ledger, management of payables and receivables, etc.

Even better, the first-party nature of these features enables Firm Central to exceed the capabilities of third-party products. This is best exemplified by Firm Central's new Auto-Posting rules and Dashboard.

With Auto-Posting, you can automatically apply client payments, firm expenses, and more. For example, when a client pays you, Firm Central can automatically post all the related transactions to accounts receivable, the client's trust account, and your firm's general trust account. If the invoice contains several categories of charges, Firm Central can further split payments among accounts for legal fees, recovered expenses, taxes, and write-offs.

With the new Dashboard, you can see Revenue by Practice Area, Top Clients by Revenue, Aging AR, Unpaid Invoices, Unbilled Expenses, Fees Collected, and more on one screen.

"With Firm Central's fully integrated trust and business accounting software, lawyers can now manage all aspects of their practice in one secure complete platform," says Mark Haddad, general manager of Thomson Reuters' Small Law Firm segment. "Solo and small firm lawyers can quickly and easily track their financial activity and generate detailed reports, all within Firm Central. This approach improves efficiency, making it easier to manage finances and keep a close eye on the bottom line."

Other Notable Features

When clients pay you via credit card, Auto-Posting becomes even more automated. Firm Central includes ClientPay, enabling you to embed payment links and QR codes into invoices. ClientPay offers a lower-than-average rate of 1.95% for most transactions, and processes payments in a compliant manner to prevent ethics violations.

Firm Central offers a number of other notable advanced features. Switch between cash and accrual accounting to view your firm from different perspectives. Reconcile bank, credit card, and trust accounts, save a report in PDF format, and even undo a reconciliation if necessary. Apply client payments and pay bills in bulk or individually. Create rules defining who can request and approve checks.

More than a dozen reports in Firm Central enable you to analyze your firm's performance. Reports include balance sheet, profit & loss, collection realization by client, matter, or lawyer, sales tax liability, write-offs, and more.

What Else Should You Know?

Thomson Reuters offers several Firm Central plans, including options such as Deadline Assistant for rules-based litigation calendars. The Import Accounts tool gets you up and running quickly by importing clients, matters, accounts, and balances from your existing accounting system. Thomson Reuters provides migration support if needed. Explore Firm Central in more detail.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | TL NewsWire

Smart Time 5 Brings Am Law 200 Timekeeping Technology to Small Law Firms for the First Time

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, October 25, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud timekeeping software for small and midsize firms that automatically captures and categorizes your time (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a legal research service that uses artificial intelligence to find court opinions that match the facts, legal issues, and jurisdiction of your client's case, new research tools for analyzing, visualizing, and identifying trends in health care fraud and securities violations, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The billable hour has proven a durable business model but it remains a source of frustration for small law firms. Contemporaneous timekeeping requires expensive software that only large firms can afford while reconstructing billable time requires too much effort and is inherently unreliable. Having your assistant enter your time combines each of these flawed approaches.

Smart Time 5 … in One Sentence

Launched this month, Smart Time 5 is the first cloud version of this established timekeeping software, making it available to small law firms for the first time.

The Killer Feature

Many of the country's largest firms use the on-premises version of Smart Time. Version 5 "brings features long used by Am Law 200 firms to small firms for the first time," says Smart Time Apps CEO & Founder Todd Gerstein.

For example, Smart Time includes Billing Guidelines that prevent users at your firm from posting time entries that don't comport with internal or client policies. You can create these guidelines at the firm, client, or matter level. Gerstein showed me a few common guidelines such as no block billing and descriptions limited to a certain number of characters. Using "narrative text logic, you can even require certain words (e.g., "email" must be paired with "regarding").

"What we've built is a single, but infinitely scalable, timekeeping solution," says Gerstein. "Whether you're a small, midsize, or large firm, you get the exact same system and features that make Smart Time the most powerful timekeeping system on the market."

Other Notable Features

Smart Time accommodates all three methods of timekeeping — contemporaneous, reconstructive, and collaborative. Contemporaneous timekeepers can use timers and create time entries when they complete each task. A local Windows application records all your activity for accurate reconstructive tracking that you and/or your assistant can access using the web interface.

Traditionally, reconstructive trackers like this require sleuthing to match activities with matters. Smart Time features a Relationship Engine that automates this matching. After importing your clients and matters, you can expect Smart Time to correctly categorize about 75% of your billable activity. "Learn" and "Block" buttons next to each unrecognized time entry on the Time Capture & Entry dashboard train Smart Time further until it attains near 100% accuracy (the Block button trains Smart Time to ignore activities such as personal email, etc.).

Smart Time enables you to prospect for missing time by selecting a blank block of time on the main dashboard and running a Gap Analysis. This generates a list of recorded unbilled activity during that time period. According to Gerstein, Smart Time's Gap Analysis recovers 8-10 hours of additional billable time per timekeeper per month on average. The main dashboard offers a wealth of additional business intelligence tools that slice and dice your time data to give you greater insight into your goals.

"Smart Time has been the only software that has facilitated my ability to bill contemporaneously or to recreate my time three months later (I happen to do both)," says Liz Messianu, a partner at Florida-based Lubell Rosen. "Nothing is missed, nothing is left unbilled which you have touched, phoned, created, read, looked at, or sent electronically. What more can a busy attorney want? It works."

What Else Should You Know?

Smart Time offers mobile apps for Android and iPhone, enabling you to add and edit time entries on the go. The mobile app has all the same functionality, including timers. Learn more about Smart Time 5.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | TL NewsWire

Tabs3 Software Version 19 Brings a User-Focused Redesign to Its Deep Set of Features

By TechnoLawyer | Monday, September 24, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a popular accounting, billing, and practice management system with a new design, including customization for a more personal and productive experience (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of cloud billing and practice management software designed to automate your practice through tags, document assembly, process automation workflows, and third-party integrations, backup software that backs up operating systems, files, databases such as Outlook, and cloud storage services such as Dropbox, and which includes ShadowProtect for faster restores, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Design and user experience have become important features of legal software, especially accounting, billing, and practice management systems given their hundreds of features. The challenge lies in making these features discoverable and accessible without clutter. One popular product recently took on this challenge.

Tabs3 Software Version 19 … in One Sentence

Software Technology has redesigned Tabs3 Billing, Tabs3 Financials, and PracticeMaster — collectively Tabs3 Software Version 19 — with the goal of making law firms more efficient.

The Killer Feature

The new look of Tabs3 Software Version 19 (Tabs3) takes advantage of widescreen displays, and offers users extensive customization. For example, you can pin matters to the new persistent navigation panel on the left. This panel also lists your recent matters and actions, and features a global search with autocomplete suggestions. Quick Launch Icons along the bottom of Tabs3 place all major features one click away.

Also new are tabs and the Home Dashboard. You can open an unlimited number of screens in side by side tabs and quickly switch among them. Tabs remain intact until you close them. The new Home Dashboard lists your calendar events on the left and your tasks on the right. Below you'll find the new Recap of Hours with your totals and charts showing your billable and non-billable hours, as well as unprocessed timers by day, week, or month. One click takes you to the full Recap of Hours with larger charts and additional data such as your progress against your billable hours target.

"Magnificent!" says Steve May, Firm Administrator of Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Hermann, PA. "I love the tabbed interface, Quick Launch, and Home Page."

"Version 19 of Tabs3 Software is the culmination of serving law firms for 40 years," says President and CEO Dan Berlin. "We have developed a close relationship with many of our clients and industry consultants. Insight from these relationships has helped us to develop Version 19 with the precision and flexibility that modern law firms need."

Other Notable Features

Given its maturity, Tabs3 supports any law firm billing model, including rules for origination fees and how to apply lump sum client payments. Tabs3 also includes general ledger, accounts payable, and trust accounting, eliminating the need for a third-party accounting system.

Version 19 beefs up online payment options. You can add an online payment link to an email message when sending an invoice. Clients can pay by e-check or credit card powered by ProPay. The new Import Online Payments tool enables you to allocate these payments with one click or review them one by one.

On the flip side, Tabs3 also offers new Accounts Payable features, most notably Advance Client Costs for recovery of expenses. You can choose to pay select invoices only after clients have reimbursed you to preserve your cash flow. A new General Ledger report shows these advance client costs. And speaking of cash flows, the new statement of cash flows report gives you better insight when making financial decisions.

What Else Should You Know?

Tabs3 runs on Windows. Companion product Tabs3 Connect facilitates remote access from any desktop or mobile web browser. A new subscription option that includes software updates costs $72/user/month for all products. Separately, Tabs3 Billing costs $32/user/month, PracticeMaster costs $32/user/month, and Tabs3 Financial costs $8/user/month. You can still buy a traditional license if you prefer. Learn more about Tabs3 Software.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

PracticePanther Adapts to and Automates Your Firm's Processes

By TechnoLawyer | Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers cloud billing and practice management software designed to automate your practice through tags, document assembly, process automation workflows, and third-party integrations (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of backup software that backs up operating systems, files, databases such as Outlook, and cloud storage services such as Dropbox, and which includes ShadowProtect for faster restores, OCR software that automatically finds unsearchable documents in your document management system, Windows PCs, and cloud storage services, and makes them searchable, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Because of their internal processes, no two law firms are alike. These processes become the foundation of the firm's culture. New employees experience culture shock until they learn these processes. Likewise, your billing and practice management system will never fit in unless it too can acclimate to your firm's unique set of systems.

PracticePanther … in One Sentence

PracticePanther is a cloud-based billing and practice management system that emphasizes customization and which integrates with dozens of third-party applications for additional flexibility.

The Killer Feature

"Tags are a key PracticePanther differentiator," says Senior Account Executive Sam Alkoubey as he begins my demo. He's referring to the ability to append descriptors to any data in PracticePanther — contacts, events, clients, matters, time entries, prebills, invoices, etc. You can restrict tag creation to administrators to foster consistency and prevent near-duplicates.

Tags enable you to create applications within PracticePanther without any programming skills. For example, you can create a customer relationship management system by creating a set of tags to track contacts as they move from prospect to client. You could then email all prospects who complete an initial consultation within the past month but have not yet signed an engagement letter.

PracticePanther also offers custom fields, which work in conjunction with tags. You can group a set of related custom fields such as for a practice area intake form and associate this group with a tag. Then you could generate a report comparing your firm's practice areas across a range of metrics.

Other Notable Features

CEO David Bitton tells me that PracticePanther has surpassed older rivals in terms of overall functionality. "With contact and matter management, automated time tracking and invoice generation, document and workflow generation, email and calendar sync, and countless more sophisticated features, we are proud to offer the highest-rated and most intuitive law practice management software that is used in over 170 countries worldwide," says Bitton.

PracticePanther has a main dashboard as well as dashboards for each major function. From the main dashboard, you can access each of these functions, including an internal messaging system. Additionally, this dashboard lists your firm's overall financials if you have access rights, your billable time and targets, and recent activity in your matters. To the right are active timers and the ability to start new ones.

The billing system accommodates all business models — hourly, flat, contingency, and even subscription (recurring payments). You can set rates by timekeeper and matter, use UTBMS task codes, customize invoice templates with your logo and terms, enter multiple time entries simultaneously, edit prebills on the fly, receive a notification when clients view an invoice, and accept payment by e-check and credit card via LawPay. PracticePanther includes trust accounting and check printing, and also offers QuickBooks integration for bookkeeping.

Other features include a list view for the calendar and color-coded events, integration with Box and Dropbox for document management, document assembly that takes advantage of custom fields, automated workflows that consist of dependent tasks triggered by preceding tasks or date calculations, dozens of reports ranging from incomplete tasks to origination of matters, and a client portal with support for web forms.

What Else Should You Know?

PracticePanther runs in all major web browsers. You can also use the free iOS and Android apps. Choose from three plans — Solo, Essential, or Business — that cost $39, $59, or $79 per month respectively with an annual commitment. Learn more about PracticePanther.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Online/Cloud | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Headnote Wants Your Law Firm to Get Paid Early and Often

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, July 19, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a legal payments platform that enables your firm to accept payment by e-check or credit card without having to change your billing process (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of document assembly software that you can use within other applications such as your document or practice management system, case management software that runs on Windows, Android, and iOS with features, customization options, and integrations that acknowledge today's world, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

The average law firm gets paid 60-90 days after sending an invoice. Second-generation lawyer Sarah Schaaf witnessed both of her parents start their own firms and struggle with collection issues. Sarah left an in-house role in Google's legal department to start a legal payments company to shorten the payment gap to days or even minutes in many cases.

Headnote … in One Sentence

Headnote is a trust-compliant e-check and credit card payments platform for law firms seeking to get paid faster with less follow-up.

The Killer Feature

Headnote eliminates complexity when it comes to getting paid. Headnote provides you with a hyperlink to a secure payment page that you then send to clients using your existing invoicing process by embedding the link anywhere — email message, Word or PDF document, practice management, billing, or accounting software, etc.

When your client receives the link, they click on it using any device, see your firm's letterhead and logo, and pay in seconds without needing to create a Headnote account.

Headnote enables your clients to pay by e-check, a feature that CEO Schaaf tells us is exclusive to Headnote and 100% compliant with IOLTA and the ABA's Model Rules for accepting online payment to both trust and operating accounts. Clients securely log into their bank account and authorize payment using the same instantaneous authentication process that banks use for transfers. Headnote teamed up with Silicon Valley Bank to create this e-check platform, which connects to more than 2,500 banks. This eliminates the older, days-long micro-deposit and account verification process.

"Headnote allows attorneys to easily begin accepting compliant online payments and improving realization rates without changing any internal billing or invoicing processes," says Schaaf. "It's a game changer for law firms and the legal industry as a whole."

Other Notable Features

You can sign up with Headnote in a few minutes, and there's no cost associated with having an account. Enter your email address and firm information, create a password, upload your logo, and connect your bank account.

You can accept only e-check payments or also allow credit cards. Headnote charges 1.9% of e-check and 3.5% of credit card transactions. To comply with ethics rules, Headnote doesn't take this fee from client payments but instead charges your firm separately. This enables you to connect a trust account for client payments.

Headnote also handles collections with its Automated Reminder feature, which emails the payment link to delinquent clients. Choose when and how often to send reminders, and personalize the accompanying message. Some Headnote users like solo practitioner Kimberley Spire-Oh don't need this feature. "Since starting to use Headnote, my clients pay more often and much faster without me needing to remind them," says Spire-Oh. "It's a very user-friendly system and provides huge benefits to my practice."

Several specialized tools exist for specific use cases. For example, if you charge clients a flat fee for the same work over and over, you can create automatic recurring payments at set intervals. Less tech savvy clients can keep their credit card on file and authorize you to make payments on their behalf. Also, Headnote enables law firms to add a payment page to their website to make it even easier for clients to pay (setup is free).

What Else Should You Know?

Headnote offers several reports showing all transactions, all payment links, etc. If your firm uses QuickBooks, syncing your bank accounts will automatically pull in all payments made through Headnote for fast reconciliations. Learn more about Headnote.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | TL NewsWire

AbacusLaw Goes Beyond the Practice Management Status Quo With Client Intake, Court Rules Calendaring, and Legal Accounting

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, June 21, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers an accounting and practice management system that automates client intake, rules-based calendaring, and document creation (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a corporate messaging service that automatically saves discussions and shared documents to NetDocuments, a Microsoft Word add-in that scores your briefs and offers a spellchecker-like tool which suggests corrections and stylistic improvements, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Why is Elon Musk so focused on rocket launches? Because with space travel everything stems from the launch. Now think about your cases. They all start with intake, a process that many practice management systems ignore. But shouldn't intake be a priority?

AbacusLaw … in One Sentence

AbacusNext's AbacusLaw is a popular practice management and legal accounting system with customizable intake tools, court rules calendaring, Outlook integration, and a mobile app.

The Killer Feature

AbacusLaw has an Intake button on its toolbar, which underscores the company's reverence for this aspect of law practice. Click this menu, choose the applicable PALS or Practice Area Legal Solution, and begin entering information about your new matter. AbacusLaw offers PALS for all major practice areas. Each PALS consists of special fields, reports, document templates, and smart intake forms. You can customize a PALS to fit your needs, and create entirely new PALS for niches within your practice.

The intake forms in each PALS are "smart" because they automatically check for duplicate data and link to related information. These forms populate all areas of the software, obviating the need to enter data in multiple locations. Instead of entering all the data yourself, you can have clients, witnesses, and others securely enter information into these forms on your website. You can still take advantage of this automation even if you create a matter the old-fashioned way. Just assign a PALS to the matter and all the associated fields and forms appear for data entry.

Other Notable Features

Rules-based deadline calendaring for litigation matters is another area most practice management systems ignore. By contrast, AbacusLaw includes calendar rules for civil actions in federal courts and most state courts. The calendar rules for California even include specialty courts such as family law. You can set up the applicable rules as part of an intake form or do it later after filing a complaint. The rules calculate all deadlines, and automatically adjust them as continuances and other delays occur.

AbacusLaw also offers automation for transactional practice areas with its built-in document assembly. Choose from dozens of bundled forms and create your own (AbacusNext provides training). After choosing a form, assign it to a matter, fill it out, and generate a Word, WordPerfect, or PDF document for further editing and sharing.

In addition to managing your legal work, AbacusLaw also manages your finances with a full accounting system — general ledger, accounts payable, trust accounting, and of course billing. Every screen in AbacuLaw has a Time Tix button that can start a timer or record a time entry. Reports include all those you would expect, which you can customize. You can also create your own reports.

Because AbacusLaw is matter-centric, you can access all information related to a matter in one place, including calendar events, contacts, documents, and invoices. If you use Outlook, you can also save relevant email to a matter using AbacusLaw's add-in. With the free mobile app, you can access your matters on the go.

"Designed for lawyers, easy to use, and powerful, AbacusLaw helps me manage my practice and do my billing," says Delaware solo practitioner Thomas Shellenberger. "The calendar coordinates well with Outlook and my mobile device."

What Else Should You Know?

Most law firms use AbacusLaw via Abacus Private Cloud, AbacusNext's virtual desktop service. You can host AbacusLaw at your firm if you prefer. Learn more about AbacusLaw.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

Reviews of Zola Suite, Smokeball, Epson WorkForce ES-500W Scanner

By TechnoLawyer | Friday, May 18, 2018

Today's issue of TL Serendipity contains these articles:

Stephen Silverberg, Review of Zola Suite for Integrated Accounting and Practice Management

Ted Alatsas, Review of Smokeball for Practice Management Plus Cloud Storage

Scott Lawson, Review of Epson WorkForce ES-500W Scanner

Don't miss this issue — or any future issues.

How to Receive TL Serendipity
Our most serendipitous offering (hence its name), TL Serendipity consists of contributions by TechnoLawyer members who have important information to share. You'll no doubt enjoy it because of its mix of interesting topics and genuinely useful knowledge, including brutally honest product reviews and informative how-tos. The TL Serendipity newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Automation/Document Assembly/Macros | Coming Attractions | Copiers/Scanners/Printers | Online/Cloud | Practice Management/Calendars

Billing and Task Management Software You’ll Never Outgrow

By TechnoLawyer | Friday, May 18, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers billing and task management software designed to handle any financial model you devise, including the option to outsource drudgery such as mailing bills (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a major practice management update, including a new Android and iOS app that automatically captures time for calls and email, a new marketing automation and client intake platform designed for law firms, including tools for email newsletters and electronic signatures, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Law firms rarely charge a simple hourly rate. Instead, most have sophisticated billing needs. Also, a firm's billing model can change because of a new client, partner, practice area, etc. Ideally, you want billing software that can handle any financial model you devise.

TimeSolv Legal Billing … in One Sentence

TimeSolv is cloud billing software with extensive and flexible tools for time and expensive tracking, trust accounting, billing, and task management.

The Killer Feature

If you can think it, TimeSolv can track it. TimeSolv accommodates different billing rates based on the lawyer, task, matter, and other factors — even UTBMS task codes. Law firms often use split billing to incentivize behavior such as rainmaking. TimeSolv can split bills in any proportion, including granular controls such as splitting hours at different rates.

When creating a new matter, choose a default billing arrangement that you expect to use for most time entries. Timekeepers can override this default when necessary. For example, if a case goes to trial, you can use TimeSolv's Task Then Timekeeper setting to charge a premium trial rate.

"TimeSolv is hands down the best legal billing program available today," says Eva DeVincentis of O'Kelly & Ernst, LLC. "Not only is it easy to use, but if you find anything that you need it to do, just reach out to the staff at TimeSolv and before you know it, they've updated it with your request!"

Other Notable Features

TimeSolv greets you with the Time Entry dashboard. A calendar lists the time entered each day as well as totals for the month. To the right you can create time entries before or after the fact with tools such as a timer you can start and customizable abbreviations for entering lengthy descriptions (a cheat sheet lists all stored descriptions). Entering expenses works similarly.

Your support staff can use TimeSolv for free, which is helpful if some lawyers in your firm track time manually and send it to their assistant. Security controls can prevent support staff from doing anything other than entering time. These controls are also useful when working with contract lawyers.

When it's time to transform your firm's billed time into revenue, you can generate a list of Draft Bills by parameters such as client, date range, etc. You can view draft invoices and drill down to individual time entries to make adjustments. If you don't finish your review in one session, icons let you know which invoices you already reviewed. TimeSolv offers trust accounting so you can apply available trust funds during the review process.

You can use TimeSolv's Client Portal to deliver bills, and clients can pay via ACH or credit card thanks to integration with LawPay. You can also email and print bills, and submit bills to ebilling systems. TimeSolv can even print and mail your invoices via its add-on AutoMail service. For the ultimate in delegation, TimeSolv offers Outsourced Legal Billing in which a U.S.-based team preps your drafts bills, obtains your approval, and then sends the final versions, including to ebilling systems.

What Else Should You Know?

TimeSolv offers two-way sync with both the desktop and online versions of QuickBooks. A companion Windows and Mac app called TimeSync captures your time when offline. An extensive suite of task management and budgeting tools enable you to create workflow templates, automatically enter time upon task completion, and even offer flat fees. Learn more about TimeSolv Legal Billing.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | TL NewsWire

Amicus Attorney Update Includes New Mobile App, Document Management, Court Rules, and More

By TechnoLawyer | Friday, May 11, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a major practice management update, including a new Android and iOS app that automatically captures time for calls and email (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of a new marketing automation and client intake platform designed for law firms, including tools for email newsletters and electronic signatures, a cloud application for paperless deposition exhibits with tools for focusing the deponent's attention and monitoring their actions, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Capturing billable time on the go is significantly more challenging than doing so from the comfort of your office. Only a mobile app connected to your practice management and billing system can bridge this gap — and the more automated the better.

Amicus Attorney … in One Sentence

AbacusNext's Amicus Attorney (Amicus) is a popular practice management and billing system with a new Android and iOS app launching this week that automates time capture.

The Killer Feature

Open the new Amicus mobile app, and you'll see a list of recently-accessed case files. Above this list you can search for a file not listed. Within a file, tap on a client's telephone number to place a call. Amicus hands off the call to the Phone app. Email works the same way. Amicus even creates a subject for the email message and adds a salutation and your signature to save you time.

When you finish the call or send the email message, your phone reverts back to the Amicus mobile app, which shows you the elapsed time in a pop-up and asks if you want to record the details for a time entry. After tapping "Yes" to capture the time, Amicus automatically fills in the client and matter, date, time, and duration of the call or email, and a description. You can make edits if necessary. This time entry syncs back to the Amicus server.

"Practicing law is complicated, but your practice management software doesn't have to be," says Chris Cardinal, Executive VP, Software Development. "Amicus Attorney makes it easy to stay on top of a busy practice, and with the new mobile app your mission critical data is always at your fingertips."

Other Notable Features

Amicus now integrates with Abacus Payment Exchange (APX), enabling you to process ACH and credit card payments. You create an APX account within Amicus. Once approved, you can enter credit cards manually or your clients can access and pay bills directly via the secure Amicus Client Portal. APX charges a flat fee of 3% of each credit card transaction. ACH payments are free and there's no monthly fee for having an APX account.

The Amicus team also focused on making you more productive. The enhanced document management system adds technologies typically found only in dedicated systems. For example, you can "check out" documents to prevent others from working them. Amicus automatically creates a new version of a document when someone make changes, enabling you to revert back to any prior version. An import tool migrates documents from existing locations to Amicus to get you started.

You'll likely create many documents using Precedent Workflows. This tool captures your processes, automatically assigning tasks and making any applicable templates available within the task. Autofill blanks to assemble documents and automatically create a time or fee entry with the ebilling task code required by your client.

If you practice litigation, the recently introduced integration with Abacus Court Rules calculates all deadlines based on a trigger such as the trial date. Coverage includes federal courts and courts in 10 states. You can add these deadlines to the firm calendar and to personal calendars.

What Else Should You Know?

You can run Amicus in your firm or in Abacus Private Cloud, the latter of which frees you from having to maintain a server and prevent security threats. "Amicus gives me the ability to be a great advocate for my clients, and still have a life outside the office," says Peter C. Merani, founder of Law Offices of Peter C. Merani P.C. Learn more about Amicus Attorney.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Online/Cloud | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire

All-in-One Accounting, Legal Billing, and Practice Management

By TechnoLawyer | Thursday, March 8, 2018

Today's issue of TL NewsWire covers a cloud practice management system that has added financial and trust accounting to complement its billing features, obviating third-party software such as QuickBooks (see article below). In addition, you'll find links to the previous 11 TL NewsWire features, including our coverage of an online video tutorial service to help lawyers prepare clients for depositions, mediations, and trials, cloud billing software for small firms seeking a standalone solution without practice management bells and whistles, and much more. Don't miss the next issue.

Most cloud practice management products include billing features but require integration with third-party software such as QuickBooks Online for general ledger and trust accounting. This increases overall costs and cuts into efficiency. One company is betting big on one product doing it all for law firms.

Centerbase … in One Sentence

Centerbase is cloud billing, practice, and document management software that recently added fully integrated accounting, offering front and back office functionality in one product.

The Killer Feature

Centerbase's redesigned and customizable Dashboard now includes accounting data, providing full visibility into your firm. See your schedule, tasks, active cases, recent payments, open bills, marketing analytics, work in progress, etc. Click any data object and drill down for more details.

The navigation column on the left demonstrates Centerbase's deep feature set — Calendar, Matters, Contacts, Timekeeping, Billing, Documents, Reports, and of course Accounting. Each of these major areas has its own specialized dashboard. For example, the Accounting dashboard shows monthly income and expenses, top accounts receivable, bank accounts, and quick links to all accounting functions.

"A large segment of law firms wants to move to cloud-based practice management software but haven't made the jump because the majority of products require a third-party accounting integration," says Centerbase CEO and Founder John Forbes. "Centerbase fills this void by including legal specific accounting software right within our powerful billing and practice management software package."

ADLI Group, a 19-lawyer firm in Los Angeles, recently switched to Centerbase for its accounting (the firm was already using Centerbase for all other aspects of its business). "Centerbase has proven to be a necessity for growth," says Director of Operations Nicolette Hachem-Sawaya. "It is user-friendly and fast, which the attorneys enjoy, yet modifiable and accurate for the business and accounting departments. It's been a pleasure working with the Centerbase team that allowed our firm a smooth transition."

Other Notable Features

Centerbase's payment processing showcases the efficiency gains from having accounting and billing in the same product. Transactions automatically debit and credit the accounts you designate during setup. Batch processing and preset rules facilitate complex procedures with one click such as applying client payments to multiple invoices or simultaneously paying a bill and replenishing a retainer. Matter-specific rules can override firm-wide rules for payment handling. LawPay integration enables clients to pay via credit card.

The trust accounting tools comply with ethics requirements, preventing mishaps such as applying funds to a client bill from your operating account or from an inadequately funded trust account. You can apply payments from trust accounts via check or ACH, and generate a Trust Transfer Report for clients.

Think of a QuickBooks feature and Centerbase has it. Securely connect your bank accounts and credit cards for faster reconciliations. Customize the layout and design of your invoices. Generate consolidated invoices showing all fees for a client across multiple matters. Add vendors and pay their bills, and simultaneously charge reimbursable expenses to clients. Post journal entries. You can even print checks designed for QuickBooks.

What Else Should You Know?

Centerbase also overhauled the Report Creator. Select fields, customize columns, and create a custom report to display any data you need to visualize. Centerbase costs $62 per user per month or $52 without accounting (Centerbase integrates with QuickBooks so you can migrate your accounting on your own timetable). Learn more about Centerbase.

How to Receive TL NewsWire
So many products, so little time. In each issue of TL NewsWire, you'll learn about five new products for the legal profession. Pressed for time? The newsletter's innovative articles enable lawyers and law office administrators to quickly understand the function of a product, and zero in on its most important features. The TL NewsWire newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Accounting/Billing/Time Capture | Practice Management/Calendars | TL NewsWire
 
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