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The Reasons Why You Should Use Legal Billing Software

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By Author: Ryan Sparrow
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Whether you are a sole practitioner, a small firm, or a medium sized one, you should seriously consider legal billing software if you don't already use it. Even today, only about 50% of UK law firms are using legal billing software in their practices, and what shows up is the results that the other 50% gets: clients don't pay on time, they argue about every little detail, and sometimes they don't pay at all.

Why do you need legal billing software? You don't. You can carry on using a word processor and spreadsheet, making notes on Post-It notes during the day and entering it at the end of the day, or the end of the week, or in your evenings if you prefer. But then you have to re-type all the information in order to create the bill. It only needs your secretary or accounts clerk to make an error when re-typing and it can cost you dearly. You can also carry on paying your bills by sending a cheque, but then again you have to re-enter the information into some form of accounting system, or your bookkeeper or accountant has to, so that at the year end you have something to show to the tax man. So the answer is, yes, you can do it manually if that is really the way that you want to work, but we are now in the 21st century.

Of course, you may have already considered billing software and there is a huge amount of generic software out there, but it is not ideal for the legal profession. Yes, you may be able to track your expenses and bill your clients, in the same way that you could walk to work or use a bike, but if your office is ten miles from home, does it make sense? Wouldn't it be quicker by car? The legal profession doesn't just bill in one way as does your electricity supplier or the chap that installs your new bathroom. You have to allow for not only hourly billing, but also for retainer, flat fee, or contingency billing, and the best legal billing software allows for this. It enables you to present a bill to your client which looks professional rather than just the sort of bill that you get with your delivery from Waitrose.

As a practicing solicitor or lawyer, you have many interruptions, and you need a way to record what you are working on and that keeps a detailed record in case there is any dispute that arises later on. The best legal billing software has timers that can be stopped and started in programmes such as Word, spreadsheets, email, your web browser, and calendar, and provides a traditional timesheet with a timer to record your work. You simply click when done, and the time entry is saved to the client and matter. You can also choose how you want to record the time, by every minute, six minutes, 15 minutes, and so on.

You also want to know how much money you are owed and who owes it. When a payment comes in, legal billing software gives you choices as to how payments are applied, so that it can be set to the correct account. This can be important on cases where the bill on a matter is being paid by more than one person, or where a payment, or part of it, should be applied to expenses.

When dealing with expenses on a matter you have to differentiate with out of pocket expenses such as filing fees, and other costs such as postage, and so on. The Inland Revenue says that you cannot record something which is ultimately going to be paid back by your client as an expense: they regard it as a loan from you to your client. Good legal billing software can differentiate between this and non-recoverable expenses such as postage.

Legal billing software can help you get paid faster, not only by providing a bill which is accurate and on time, but also by sending out chaser letters. You can set it to follow up with clients on bills which are not paid on time, which makes your client realise you are serious about getting paid and is thus much more likely to take notice.

DPS Software provides the best legal billing software which records from time. When a user sends an email or creates a letter or attendance note on the system, they are automatically prompted to enter their time, so that nothing is missed.

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