Improve Your Firm’s Productivity With All-In-One Software
By Sarah Prevost
Choosing the right case management software to improve your law firm’s productivity and cash flow is often daunting. There are hundreds of options that tout improvements to your workflows, processes, and profitability, but how can you ensure that you’re investing in the best platform? It starts by searching for software that contains “all-in-one” features that improve client intake, legal billing, document management, and accounting—while meeting strict legal compliance requirements. In this overview, we’ll highlight the benefits of all-in-one software and the differences between an all-in-one solution versus layered, multi-platform systems.
All-In-One Software vs. Multi-Platform Software
Legal practice management software is often divided into three main categories:
- General purpose software: Usually used by individuals and small firms.
- Practice management software: Used by attorneys and law firms–big and small.
- Document management software: Primarily used by individuals and smaller firms.
Some software systems are standalone, while others are integrated into a single software platform. They are designed to collect and organize information in a fluid, sophisticated “modern-day” form. Most systems built in the early 80s meet some of the needs but are not intuitive to our current way of working. Improvements are slower, and the interface doesn’t have the sleekness we see in modern software. Good software should be ever-evolving and ideally include all three main categories under one roof. This ensures that your team doesn’t need to operate multiple software programs, which can result in a more confusing process—defeating the platform’s purpose.
Benefits of All-In-One Software
All-in-one software is specifically designed to help you save time and money. These systems can help you organize, manage, and complete legal tasks efficiently, saving you hours on mundane, non-billable administrative tasks. Below are the main benefits of this type of all-encompassing system.
#1 Matter Management
We commence with the most critical piece of data. Client trust matter management is essential to track retainers, settlements, client costs, and disbursements. Some firms keep a secondary system in a spreadsheet or other backup means to track the details. With a fully integrated system, you can achieve an assessment of these items and pull reports in one or two clicks.
A modern, all-in-one solution features legal financial software to build a well-defined process. This is precisely what law firms need for the staff who enter financial data to ensure that the firm stays in compliance. All-in-one software also displays uncleared funds and other safeguard items for ensuring compliance.
Most would say that a built-in accounting system is not flexible enough for the needs of a firm. However, all-in-one software often integrates with programs such as Quickbooks and features a simple, centralized setup for every stage in the law firm accounting process. This includes accounts payable, accounts receivable, credit card processing, and revenue distribution.
Regarding cash versus accrual-based ledgers, some programs have automatic bank feeds, while others may feature a simple data import. This allows the system to differentiate fees and costs on client invoices and collection of billed expenses.
Some legal systems are also tailored to distribute revenue based on the originating attorneys, responsible or working attorneys, etc. There’s a percentage for each biller who has earned income.
An all-in-one software will display data on your firm’s various billing and collection methods to maximize timekeeper and lawyer productivity. Further, reports can be pulled to show the data collection.
#3 Calendaring, Timekeeping, and Task Management
All-in-one solutions also present teamwide calendars with the ability to allocate resources based on availability. Observing your clients based on the team’s availability will allow you to scale and appropriately utilize resources.
In addition, most systems have a built-in time tracker to manage every matter. This helps every attorney in your firm record and track all billable activities in real-time. Furthermore, all-in-one solutions provide case analytics to optimize your team’s utilization. This includes detailed charts with planned and completed activities, time spent, and billed income and expenses. This real-time data allows you to see actual results for your budgets or forecasting to expand firm growth. It will also help you l keep a close eye on margins and mitigate possible client disputes.
#4 Legal Billing
One of the biggest cost inefficiencies for some law firms involves the management of billing applications separate from time clock and document management systems. An all-in-one solution can monitor billable and non-billable hours and ensure accountability for time spent on client work—as a single billing and payment software and legal document management system.
Your firm will have insight into client costs and process management workflows. Most platforms provide an easy option, with all items in one place. Much like in all the accounting systems, there are ways to batch send, provide accessible payment portals, and bill based on the defined needs of the firm.
Legal billing in its own right has some complexity, and if you are a mix-use firm, you have billing needs that include e-billing, flat fee, contingency, and many others. Hence, you need to establish workflows to support clients’ cases efficiently. Generating a schedule for billing intervals with efficiency is the goal, and an all-in-one solution can automate this workflow.
All in all, you can improve your firm’s workflow and profits using all-in-one legal technology software. Clients will also enjoy the system as it provides more accessible ways to pay their invoices and efficiently communicate with your attorneys during their cases. Ultimately this means a higher likelihood of referrals and positive reviews.
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