October 2012 | Billing & Collections
The Fine Art of Getting Paid on a Mac
This paper was originally presented at ABA TECHSHOW 2012 and is reprinted by permission.
While most attorneys primarily focus on their legal work and serving their clients’ legal needs, it is equally important for them to pay attention to their back office needs. If you can’t bill for your time, you can’t get paid for your time. Your timekeeping, billing, and accounting software is at least as important as the other software and technology you employ in your practice.
The evaluation of timekeeping, billing, and accounting software is time consuming, fraught with frustration, and confusing. However, the more time you spend determining your firm’s specific needs, the available software and services, and how the two mesh, the more time you will save yourself in the long run.
There are three equally important considerations when evaluating new timekeeping, billing, and accounting software. First, you need to know what your firm needs. Second, you need to know what software and services are available to you. And third, you need to know how the two will work in concert, and how your workflow will benefit from careful consideration, planning, and evaluation.
#1: Internal Needs and Requirements Evaluation…
It is important to spend the time, before doing anything else, to carefully, thoughtfully, and completely evaluate your firm’s workflow, needs, and requirements. Failure to do this important first step will result in much wasted time down the road – like when you realize that the software you’ve spent a week trialing lacks the ability to export bills in a client’s preferred format.
#2: Evaluation of Specific Software offerings…
In reality, it takes about 8-10 hours to adequately evaluate a software or service, to see what it offers and how it works, and to determine if it will fit your firm’s needs. We will discus a number of the more popular timekeeping, billing accounting software solutions (including web-based software as a service (S.A.A.S) solutions) available to Mac-based legal practitioners. The software evaluated include the following:
We will also be discussing QuickBooks, and FreshBooks, as well as other accounting software.
Keeping in mind the important Latin principle, dualis listmaximus (loosely translated, it means that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who put things on a list of one of two things, and those who don’t), it might be useful for the reader to consider the various ways of organizing the work of comparing and contrasting the Macintosh offerings of time and billing software. In no particular order, they are:
At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s not very practical to take the time to actually try out everything and then pick what works best. What you need is some ability to filter the offerings into a subset of things that merit your attention and then spend your time considering which members of that subset are worth your focused time and attention.
For example, if you simply must have a full-fledged accounting program and not merely a time and billing targeted solution, your list is three or four items long. If you already have a case or matter management system with which you’re happy, then you can look past the case management solutions that incorporate those offerings.
And if your account insists on you using Quickbooks and you don’t want a different accountant, then you have just three choices: run Quickbooks 2012 for the Mac, run Quickbooks Online, or run the Windows version under emulation.
#3: Work flow and other practice considerations…
They’ll do so with a mix of magic, some smoke and mirrors, some dogs and ponies, perhaps some ninjas, zombies and Chinese narcoterrorists all of which will stun the audience into believing they’ve witnessed cleverness and practical work-flow tips. It’s all about making money on your Mac.
Randall A. Juip is the principal of the Juip Richtarcik Law Firm in Detroit, Michigan. His practice focuses on medical/professional defense, complex civil litigation, risk/crisis management and public relations. Mr. Juip has tried over 40 civil trials, and regularly presents to professionals on issues of medical/legal topics, technology, and risk management.
Mark C. Metzger is in private practice in Naperville, Illinois, where he represents clients who develop or use information technology systems. Mark is a frequent presenter on the use of technology in the practice law, with his earliest such presentations dating to 1995 and his most recent being at last year's Macs in Law Offices conference in Orlando. He is a returning member of the TECHSHOW faculty, an unapologetic gadget lover and a loose tea snob.