A July 2020 article in the ABA Journal stated that the biggest struggle facing lawyers during the pandemic has been maintaining financial stability. While this challenge may be due to a variety of issues, including court closures and interrupted workflows, inadequate (or nonexistent) legal billing software may also play a major role.
The right legal billing software addresses the inefficiencies that exasperate the financial obstacles of COVID-19. But lawyers need to carefully review all of their legal billing software options. The wrong system can leave your firm vulnerable and ill-equipped to handle the challenges of this pandemic.
The Challenges of an Inadequate Legal Billing System
The whole point of adopting an electronic billing system is alleviating the stress involved and making the process more efficient. Yet, many of the traditional legal systems are notoriously difficult for lawyers and law firm staff members to use. Staff may even find themselves working harder just to keep the system up and running, which can be counterproductive.
From the start, set up can be a challenge. Inadequate direction and a lack of customer service leaves lawyers and firms to fend for themselves. In addition, not all systems offer training and for those that do, their processes can be costly and incomplete. When this is the case, staff members may miss out on learning useful features and tools. The negative effects of an improperly trained staff can resonate through a law practice, leading to untimely invoices, late payments, and even the integrity of your law firm being called into question.
The wrong billing system can also create some significant roadblocks to cost effectiveness, which affects firm revenues. Aside from the initial cost of purchasing and setting up the legal billing system, maintenance fees can become quite prohibitive. In addition, necessary upgrades and repairs can cause the costs of these systems to gradually increase as time goes on. For example, tech support may not be an option for older software and some companies may require annual upgrade fees.
Some of the other problems associated with inadequate legal billing systems include:
- Security – Legal billing systems use sensitive client and law firm financial data to help law firms collect payment for services rendered. With the elevated level of confidentiality that lawyers owe their clients, this information must be maintained in a secure environment at all times. The wrong billing system may not offer the high level of cybersecurity that law firms need.
- Upgrades – As previously stated, many traditional legal billing systems charge additional costs for system upgrades. In addition, some companies even stop offering tech support if upgrades are not made. In the age of COVID-19, law firm leaders need the security of knowing that their legal billing software is up to date and fully equipped to handle their invoicing needs. This simply may not be possible with the wrong billing option.
- Mobility – The pandemic has made mobility even more vital for law firms to continue doing business. Seemingly overnight, many law firms began operating from various remote locations. Regardless of where staff members need to work, they need systems in place that allow them to track time and create invoices conveniently and accurately.
The Benefits of a Functional Billing System
Now that we’ve discussed the challenges that arise from choosing the wrong legal billing software, let’s discuss how the right legal billing software can help your law firm successfully navigate through the pandemic. When traversing the social distancing and safety necessities of COVID-19, law firms need a legal billing system that meets their time tracking and invoicing needs.
Time tracking is at the core of any successful legal practice. Lawyers need to know where they spend the precious hours of the day, and how many of those hours can be billed to clients. An effective legal billing software offers convenient time tracking capabilities, including:
- A time tracking app for convenient time tracking from virtually anywhere in the world
- Automatic synching of tracked time with the firm’s billing system
- The ability to track time even without an available internet connection
- Alert settings that notify timekeepers when hourly limits have been reached
With effective time tracking tools, law firms can better ensure full compensation for all work done on client matters.
Mobility also proves crucial in relation to remotely accessing a legal billing system. Many of the traditional systems require physical servers located within the law office. Sudden quarantine orders meant that law offices had to shut their physical doors with very little notice. Firms that relied upon these antiquated software options found themselves unable to fully access their legal billing systems, with some having no access at all.
Usability is another crucial aspect of a successful legal billing platform. What good is a system that your firm’s lawyers and staff members cannot use? From the savviest tech junkie to the occasional web surfer, the system needs to be comprehendible and easy for every member of your staff to navigate.
Part of that usability is the level of customer support offered by the software company. There should be various resources available to assist your firm members in setting up the system and keeping it running. Tech support should also be available for those times when unexpected issues arise.
Legal billing systems with comprehensive customer service options were able to guide their users through the uncertain times of the pandemic, quickly getting firm members up to date on managing their time tracking duties, sending invoices, and collecting much needed payments.
Legal Billing Software is More Important than Ever
The challenges of the pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of many law firms, while also providing firm leaders an opportunity to fix them. One of the biggest problems identified problems was the lack of effective legal billing software.
TimeSolv has continuously provided law firms of all sizes with the tools they need to continue tracking time, invoicing, and collecting payments throughout the pandemic. To learn more about their services, click this website link for a free, no-obligation trial.