Last editedApr 20234 min read
Tracking billable hours is a vital component of running a law firm. From solo practitioners to large corporate firms, the best legal billing solutions help you keep your finances on track. They’ll help track and allocate hours, keep retainer accounts, and manage multiple rates from a single platform. Here’s a closer look about legal billing in accounting and the many ways to improve your billing process using today’s cloud-based software.
What is legal billing software?
Legal billing software refers to any electronic system used to manage billable hours. The best legal billing solutions not only track billable hours. They can also issue customizable invoices while connecting with multiple payment gateways for timely bill collection.
Why should you use a legal billing solution?
Without the use of legal e-billing solutions, law firms must complete accounting tasks manually. This is not only time-consuming, but leaves your firm open to costly billing errors. Here are two key reasons why you should use this type of software.
The first major benefit of using a legal billing solution is to improve efficiency across your firm. By collating and analyzing data in a central system, you can automatically cross-reference records to ensure billable hours match client payments. This significantly reduces the chance of client disputes by accurately recording services provided and their rates in real time.
2. Faster payments
The second main advantage of legal e-billing solutions is their ability to take the administrative burden out of getting paid. Streamline your workflow and remove unnecessary barriers to payment. With automatic time tracking and invoice creation, your team not only gets paid faster, but has more time to add value to the company.
Who are legal billing solutions for?
The primary users of legal billing solutions are law firms, both large and small. You’ll also see legal departments within corporations using this type of software, along with individual consultants and solo practitioners. While lawyers enter their billable hours, administrative professionals and accountants then deal with payment collection from clients.
What type of buyer are you?
There are three primary types of buyers for legal billing software.
Solo practitioners: Use software to track hours and reconcile your accounts.
Small firms: Track services rendered with real-time data collection and payment tracking.
Large firms: Look for full-service software accessible to unlimited users and locations.
Questions to ask before getting a new legal billing solution
To narrow down the field when it comes to purchasing the best legal billing solution, begin with the following questions.
Do you need accounting software?
If you’re already using accounting software, look for a system that integrates easily with third parties. Otherwise, you’ll want a platform that includes accounting features.
Do you need document signing and management software?
Third-party integrations are equally important for those happy with their existing customer management and document signing software. Otherwise, an all-in-one package is best.
How many users does the software need to support?
Supported users are a major factor in software pricing. Find out how many users within your organization will need to have access to the billing solution, so that you can find a suitable fit both in terms of support and budget.
Will your clients use an online payment portal?
Many legal billing solutions come with a front-facing client portal to facilitate easier payment. However, whether this feature is useful will depend on your clients’ payment preferences. Do they prefer to pay with paper checks or cash?
Important features of the best legal billing solution
Legal solutions for billing offer an array of features.
Time tracking – At minimum, the best free legal billing solutions will track attorney hours in real time and convert these to a payable fee.
Flexibility – You should be able to change billing rates according to the type of service performed. This is because many legal firms work with sliding scales of rates, along with split fees, retainers, and other types of costs.
Online payments – A good feature to look for is online payment processing, which lets you collect payments swiftly and automatically.
Automatic invoicing – Your solution should combine rates and billable hours, converting these automatically into an invoice for easy electronic payment.
Financial reporting – Does the system automatically track your financials and compile them into reports for tax and accounting purposes?
Security – When dealing with sensitive legal and financial details, security is more important than ever. Make sure your chosen solution has built-in anti-fraud features and uses tools like tokenization.
What are the best legal billing solutions?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but we’ve compiled several of the best legal billing solutions for your comparison.
Starting at under $40 per user, per month, Clio is an affordable solution that lets you begin with a free trial. In addition to standard features like time tracking, accounting, and case management, it also includes advanced project management features to keep your cases organized. Choose from a variety of secure online payment methods including credit and debit cards as well as eChecks.
TimeSolv is another legal billing solution clocking in at just under $40 per month, but its free trial period is longer than Clio’s at a full 30 days. It syncs easily across multiple devices while working fully in the cloud. This case management solution includes a suite of project management tools alongside its billing features.
With a similar price point to others on this list and a 15-day free trial, Rocket Matter is an affordable legal billing solution. This cloud-based platform is suitable for both case management and legal billing. Unique features include Kanban boards for easier project management, including document storage and professional templates. It’s highly customizable and scalable to suit firms of all sizes.
Try out MyCase free for 10 days before committing to its starting price of $39 per user, per month. It’s best suited to smaller legal firms and solo practitioners, without the advanced financial reporting and accounting features that some others on this list provide. Strengths include QuickBooks integration, unlimited document storage, and automated workflows alongside its time and expense tracking.
What are the latest trends for legal billing software?
To remain competitive in the legal workplace, you’ll want to keep up on the latest trends. This includes a move to the use of mobile apps, along with automated time tracking. Finally, an increasing number of solutions are doing away with integration to provide an all-in-one service.
How can GoCardless help?
When it comes to automated invoicing, GoCardless can help. Use the power of ACH debit and our intelligent retries feature, Success+, to collect payments on the day they’re due. It’s easy to get your customers set up, after which time they don’t need to worry about making payments. Instead, your firm collects payments on time, every time. We also integrate with over 300 partners including top accounting and invoicing software like Xero, QuickBooks, and more.
We can help
GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.