Timekeeping and billing are two of the core tenets of any law firm’s operations. You won’t get paid without properly accounting for the time you’ve spent working on billable activities, and in many cases law firms regardless of size are dropping the ball. Large firms and small firms alike are losing meaningful amounts of time that they could have, and should have, billed for.
Even though this is a known fact, law firms around the world are not taking the required steps to improve their legal billing process. As a result of this lack of action, law firms are losing out on massive amounts of revenue, both through the loss of time and through inefficient human-manual tasks that could have been replaced by technology.
An example of such technology is innovative billing software made specifically for the legal industry, helping lawyers improve their day-to-day efficiency with the end-goal of seeing revenue improvements for the law firms.
Legal billing software are applications which allow lawyers to capture billable and non-billable hours as well as expenses or disbursements. With this information, lawyers can then create invoices within their legal ebilling software. In addition to this, many legal billing software solutions offer robust matter management functionality which ensures that all client- and matter information is kept up-to-date and secure.
In short, legal billing software makes timekeeping and billing a breeze, often deploying process automation to replace outdated tasks that previously would have required human involvement. In addition, legal billing software helps increase lawyers’ efficiency through providing simple tools, for example timers and apps, that ease the capture of time.
The goal of legal billing software is to provide lawyers with a simple and fast way to record time and create invoices that are compliant with their clients’ billing guidelines or service level agreements, often also offering LEDES format support.
A legal billing software will offer features that help your law firm do electronic billing by connecting disparate processes into a single software platform, with examples being time entry and invoice creation. The best billing software for lawyers that you’ll encounter, however, will include additional features on top that increase the efficiency of your law firm.
These features include, but are not limited to: complimentary mobile apps for time recording on the go, invoice review functionality for supervisors or the accounting team, invoice cleaning based on machine learning of SLAs, multiple concurrent timers for timekeeping, API integrations into accounting systems and legal CRMs, robust matter management for client data, and electronic document storage (e-docs). In addition to this, many legal billing software solutions will offer help desk support with chat, ticketing, and video and text resources that ease your onboarding.
As a summary, a good legal billing software will allow you to store client information that you record billable activities against, before automatically cleaning and correcting the data, creating an electronic (PDF or LEDES) invoice that you submit to your client, e.g. through LawPay, QuickBooks, or similar.
Legal billing software solutions come in multiple shapes and sizes. Some are full-suite solutions that are integrated within law practice management software, some are smaller standalone solutions, and some are interoperable solutions that aim to integrate into your tech stack rather than requiring their own.
Depending on your requirements, pricing will differ. For many law firms, however, the reality is that there’s pre-existing software utilized within the firm that’s either ingrained within the day-to-day of its lawyers, or it's simply the preferred choice of software. In such cases, the law firm may wish to keep a pre-existing solution, and because of this a full law practice management software may not be of interest.
For standalone and interoperable legal billing software solutions, pricing typically ranges from ~$30 to $80 U.S. dollars per user, per month. The higher rates are usually attributed to tiers and feature locks, where you pay an added amount to get more features available within your deployment of the specific legal billing software. There are cheaper alternatives to the established giants, however, and I would recommend that you look to those wishing to break into the industry by beating competition on price while offering just as many if not more features at a single price point. No tiers, no nonsense; every user gets access to all features.
If you’re a lawyer, then you’re likely intimately familiar with the frustrations and limitations of the legal billing and timekeeping processes present at many law firms. Manual tracking, dictaphones, physical timers, and more — no matter what your specific process looks like, it’s highly likely that it consists of multiple different ways of tracking time. This simply is not efficient, and it’s a massive headache and daily stressor.
One of the main reasons attributed to lawyers leaving practice is actually the stress of keeping time. Though part of this comes with the job as timekeeping will always be a part of legal practice, the industry must rally and take advantage of the ebilling tools that are available to mitigate the stress felt by lawyers at big and small law firms globally.
Legal billing software serves as a single source of truth for your law firm’s time and billing. It combines your disparate processes into a central location, easily accessible and usable by all while leveraging process automation to replace unwanted and outdated tasks.
It doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful to do legal billing. In fact, it can be quite easy, and in some cases it can even drive added revenues if you use the correct legal billing software. In essence, a good timekeeping and ebilling solution will allow you to transform your view of accounting for time. It won’t be stressful anymore, and tracking and recording time won’t take hours out of your day, week, or month.
Legal billing software is important as it allows lawyers to focus on just that, being lawyers.