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Key Features of Industry Leading Legal Practice Management Software

Key Features of Industry Leading Legal Practice Management Software

Oct 7, 2020 | By Rosemary Kupfert | 0 Comments

Topics: Legal Technology, Time and Billing Software, Featured

Law firms that are perceived as industry leaders are continually shifting with modern technology trends to seamlessly manage the front and back-office operations of their business.  

Most of these law firms attribute their success to the implementation of an industry-leading legal practice management software.

Regardless of the law firm practice areas, or flexible alternative fee arrangements offered, many clients mandate more complicated fee structures and flexible options than offered by more traditional structures.  Without the proper tools in place to automatically assign fee structures or fee arrangements, on a client or case basis, there is a higher risk of billing errors.

Errors on invoices lead to disgruntled clients and unhappy timekeepers.  Also, staff must waste overhead hours and billable time to immediately research, resolve, and respond to any billing issues.  

Time and hours that could have been spent on projects or billable client work are now lost revenue.  

Without a time, billing, and accounting software that generates accurate and error-free invoices, payments are delayed and clients may be lost. 

Now more than ever, to stay on the competitive edge, it is imperative to implement an innovative solution designed that is engineered with business intelligence.  With fresh, modern technology, your law firm will be able to efficiently manage any manner of complicated fee arrangements and industry billing standards based on client demand.

The information below provides must-have features and functionality of a high-quality legal practice management solution.  

Use this chart to review critical key features and perform your due diligence when selecting the appropriate software:

Cloud Platform Technology

  • Web and mobile access functionality
  • Native iOS and Android mobile apps
  • No requirement for on-premise server

Mobility App with Artificial Intelligence

  • Prompt to bill, completed to-dos, and phone-call notifications
  • Create, submit, and approve vendor bills
  • Access transaction history, documents, notes, and to-dos
  • Generate and automatically send invoices 
  • Apply payments to invoices 
  • Access to full financial reporting
  • Access to accounting data
  • Send and receive messages 
  • Mobile app artificial intelligence support
  • Capture billable time using timecards and timers
  • Capture client expenses, mileage, and calls with reminder prompts
  • Submit and approve or reject time and expense entries
  • Submit and approve PTO
  • Submit back-up documents or receipts by scanning a document or photo 

Trust / Retainer Fund Management

  • Assign trust account on the matter level
  • Three-way account reconciliation
  • Apply trust funds to fees and costs when generating invoices
  • Dashboard snapshot to view WIP vs. balances and replenishment requirement
  • Generate retainer-only invoices
  • Manage trust ledgers
  • Comprehensive trust account reporting

Workflow Automation

  • Memorize financial reports and schedule automatic delivery
  • Multi-level submittal and approval process 
  • Process invoices with automatic billing and recurring charges
  • Forecast revenue and business operations for efficient cash flow management
  • Efficiently manage people and timelines with Gantt charts
  • Smart tools for resource scheduling, allocation, and utilization

Human Resource Management

  • Benefits assignment and usage
  • Human resource forms library
  • Salary change and history
  • Review management
  • Incident and termination management
  • Journal achievements, complaints, demotions, disciplines, grievances, promotions, and raises
  • Monitor personal time off

Intuitive Dashboards

  • Graphic interface displays real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Financial Dashboards that provide an overview of the firm’s financial health
  • Management Dashboards that provide an overview of team performance
  • Personal Dashboards that provide an overview of individual performance
  • Customizable widgets with interactive lists, graphs, and bar charts
  • Real-time updates on financial health for income and expenses
  • Real-time updates on WIP and trust account balances by client and matter
  • Real-time updates of client and matter gross-margin performance
  • Matter and employee allocation metrics
  • Performance breakdown on billable hours vs. non-billable hours
  • Billable, non-billable, paid time off and overhead hours
  • Reimbursable expenses
  • Documents feed list for your clients/matters
  • Workflows and to-do list

Custom Fields On Client Matter / Timekeeper

  • Create dropdown list specific to the law firm’s practice areas
  • Create a dropdown list for ownership and bonus percentages
  • Create a date field for reporting client intake and close metrics
  • Create and sort management reports by custom fields 
  • Filter and sort list views to view relevant custom data 
  • Track data specific to the different record types
  • Create LEDES fields to map and meet export requirements

Report Generation

  • Leverage a wide variety of customizable reports
  • Create memorized reports 
  • Tag any report as your favorite
  • View breakdowns of utilization and realization
  • Analyze billable hours vs. non-billable hours
  • Schedule reports being automatically generated and delivered

Time and Expense Tracking

  • Mobile app with intelligence to easily capture and manage billing data
  • Timecard, timesheet, and timer entry options
  • Add back-up documents to individual fee and expense entries
  • Calculates effective and minimum bill rates
  • Track Paid Time Off (PTO), sick, vacation, and comp time

LEDES Billing

  • Supports Uniform Task-Based Management System (UTBMS)
  • Pre-programed with “A” codes and “L” codes 
  • Includes LEDES 1998B and 2000 XML formats
  • Batch exporting LEDES invoices to separate file
  • Create and map matter custom fields to LEDES required fields for export

Split Billing

  • Split recurring fees and costs among multiple matters
  • Unlimited splits - percentage always equals 100%
  • No manual invoices or duplicate entry to split bills
  • No Excel spreadsheets needed to calculate splits and track
  • Creates separate invoices and tracks accounts receivables based on split
  • Summary of split fees and costs appear in the table at end of the bill
  • Shows payments applied and balance forward for all split matters

Invoicing

  • Customize bill templates with the firm logo and branding 
  • Hourly, flat, contingency, progress, recurring billing rules 
  • Ability to void and regenerate historical invoices 
  • The draft invoice review process for billing managers 
  • Batch and manual processing of invoices
  • Automatic email processing of invoices
  • Batch export of LEDES invoices to individual files
  • Recurring split billing between multiple matters
  • Scheduled automatic and recurring invoicing
  • Retainer replenishment reminder bills 
  • Automated billing report generation and delivery
  • Memorized billing reports 

Legal Practice Management Solutions: Research, Evaluate, & Implement

The legal marketplace is saturated with legal practice management solutions that tout themselves as “#1” or “Best In Class.” They claim to provide all the tools you need to efficiently manage your front and back-office operations.  

However, the evaluation process is an overwhelming task for all involved.   The platform must provide the business intelligence and smart tools needed to resolve challenges.

When selecting a technology committee or team of employees to evaluate legal practice management solutions, they must have sufficient knowledge of cloud-based computing models and deployment options.

Use this guide to carefully analyze the features of any legal practice management software that you are considering for your law firm. If the software does not offer the comprehensive functionality and features listed in this guide, then it will likely perpetuate challenges to your billing and accounting process.

The Author

Rosemary Kupfert

Rosemary Kupfert is Product Expert - Core Legal at BQE Software. She has more than 30 years experience as a firm administrator and then a consultant to over 1,000 law firms nationwide, helping to improve their workflow and administrative efficiency through business and technology.

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