Things You Didn’t Learn in Law School:
Accounting

English: A Chinese Abacus

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Accounting: it’s not exactly the most exciting topic and it’s certainly not something we learned about in law school. That’s why it’s #1 on the list of the Top 10 Things You Didn’t Learn in Law School, part of our 10-part blog series that we’re kicking off today.

The billing and accounting gap

That lawyers aren’t taught about accounting in law school is an unfortunate oversight in our educations, since accounting is an important part of any law firm’s business processes. After all, getting paid and tracking income and expenses is nearly impossible without effective billing, invoicing, and accounting practices in place.

That’s why MyCase has such robust billing and invoicing features built into both our online platform and our mobile apps. These features are incredibly popular with our customers (and with their clients), most of whom use MyCase for all customer-facing activities, including billing and receipts.

In addition to billing and invoicing, back office accounting is equally important to law firm processes and for that reason, there are many different accounting software platforms available to law firms. Although not all lawyers use accounting programs, one of the most popular accounting programs used by lawyers, their accountants, and bookkeepers is Quickbooks.

What do lawyers want from Quickbooks Integration?

Because Quickbooks is used by so many law firms, we recently conducted a survey in order to better understand lawyers’ needs when it comes to integrating Quickbooks with their law practice management system. One important thing we discovered from our survey is that for lawyers who use Quickbooks for business, the manual transfer of billing and invoicing into Quickbooks is extremely time consuming. In other words, a core issue for many lawyers is the duplicate data entry required when the systems are not connected. So a top priority for Quickbooks integration into a law practice management platform is the ability to quickly and easily export billing and receipt information from MyCase into Quickbooks.

We also learned that although many lawyers use the premise-based version of Quickbooks, a good number have also switched to the online version. So it’s important for any type of Quickbooks integration to support both versions.

Other important feedback that we received is that the different trust accounting systems implemented by lawyers should be taken into account when integrating Quickbooks with a law practice management platform. So, for example some law firms use master and sub GL accounts. Similarly, some attorneys use income accounts, while others use liability accounts.

Finally, we asked attorneys for their opinion regarding how to fairly price Quickbooks integration. Overall, that majority of lawyers surveyed perceived Quickbooks integration as an added feature, not a new product. Accordingly, the prevailing view was that if a monthly Quickbooks fee was added to their regular monthly fee for their law practice management system, it would deter them from implementing it. In other words, an additional monthly fee would likely reduce overall adoption of a Quickbooks integration. That being said, most respondents felt that an initial, reasonable one-time fee for Quickbooks set up would be more than fair.

So, we learned a lot of useful information from this survey. Notably, we learned that although accounting functions aren’t exciting, they’re an important part of running a law practice. We also learned that Quickbooks integration is a key feature for many lawyers who use law practice management systems to run their practices. And, finally we learned that simplicity and ease of use should be a priority when developing a successful Quickbooks integration. After all, what good are robust billing and accounting features if you can’t figure out how to use them or the integration fees are too costly?

The importance of built-in billing & accounting integration

So, from our survey we learned how important it is to have intuitive and affordable billing and accounting programs built into and integrated with your online law practice management platform. Because, as shown in the infographic below, online billing is the way that business is done in the 21st century. Law firms hoping to compete in the new world order need a robust law practice management platform with intuitive built-in billing features because that’s what their clients expect: online payment options and the ability to view their bills 24/7. And fully integrated accounting features are likewise important since the end goal is to make the operation of your law firm a seamless endeavor.

Want to learn more about the latest billing and accounting trends? Then check out the infographic below. We think some of statistics will surprise you!

MyCase_TheVerdictIn_FINAL

–Nicole Black

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