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Legal Accounting Software – Part 1 – Small & Medium

By 24 November 2022No Comments

black Android smartphone near ballpoint pen, tax withholding certificate on top of white folder

Technology helps enable productivity only when you pick the right one to use. Everything that you do at your law practice is affected by the application(s) that you choose. It impacts how you work, where you work, and also the type of work you can do. No matter what time it is, in the office and at home. One of the most important decisions is picking the right legal accounting software package that maximizes flexibility and allows integrations with other applications to keep your practice running as efficiently as possible. We will be having a separate discussion about enterprise-level accounting software some other time and will focus on the small-medium size ones today.

Why change your accounting software now

The landscape has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Many clients are now thinking ahead about how they want their firm to operate, and whether to openly embrace the idea of having a modern hybrid workplace available for their employees going forward, and get themselves ready for any future situation.

The other reason is cost. Most of the incumbent legal accounting software has been in the marketplace for a long time. During the pandemic, they have chosen the path to raise the price for all of their accounts. In some cases, the annual cost for license renewal and support has increased by 300%, with no desire to stop in the coming years.

The third reason is the deterioration of support. The pandemic caused a huge uptake in technology changes, and that affects the technology staff shortage for most software development companies. As a result, some of the senior staff from this legal accounting software left their roles and go to others that can pay them a higher wage. This fluctuation caused a dip in the level of support the client received, and in some cases, it affects their productivity. It is more or less a reality for software vendors that is out of their control.

Considerations when choosing accounting software for your firm

Want vs. Need: Do you really need the extra bells and whistles, or are you sticking with the basics? Different accounting software companies have different product features, and that doesn’t mean you need to have all of them. Consider what features your firm will be using the most, and separating the needs and nice-to-haves would be the first step for you to distinguish which software is right for your firm.

How about Training: Are you going to cause an uproar when you change your accounting software? In some cases, your accountant has a strong opinion of how accounting should be done, but your lawyers and staff will also be able to provide you with some good feedback when you are picking the new software. Evaluate the pros and cons of the existing ones, and try to look forward to the new ones that can fix some of the issues (and make new ones). It is important though to mention that training in new accounting software will go a long way. After all, you want the numbers to be correct and your firm to remain profitable.

On-Premises vs. Cloud-based: This is the most important consideration in our opinion. When your firm is decided what kind of work scenarios you want to provide to your staff, your legal accounting software should support that decision. For firms who remained to be using on-premises server and network resources, you can continue using on-premises-based accounting options such as PCLaw, ESILaw360, or Ghost Practice. In the case of modern hybrid work, where your firm’s employee will be working either from home or in the office, we recommended evaluating cloud-based options such as Soluno, Cosmolex, or LEAP (requires QuickBooks Online as well), because these products give you the most flexibility and allow your users to work anywhere. The Clio + QuickBooks Online combo is also recently a hit for its simplicity.

Does it integrate with other apps: Another important factor is how well your accounting software integrates with other systems, such as your documentation management, case management, and/or practice management. Ideally, you want your firm’s client file number to be opened once, and it will appear in all systems without repeating yourself. If there is data exchange available between the systems, it is in your best interest to set them up so that the client data can be the same throughout.

The BMC Approach

Despite the difficulties of making a change to legal accounting software, BMC recommends the following:

  1. Evaluate your firm’s approach to remote access, and decide whether your accounting software should be on-premises or cloud-based
  2. Evaluate the alternatives and options that provide the maximum amount of benefit, over the one-time cost of implementation
  3. Align the business goals with the change, and also provide adequate training to your staff

There are many different products in the marketplace, our vCIOs are designed to specifically assist you to craft a roadmap for these upcoming changes.

Here is a reference link that may be helpful for you to choose the right product:

Software Comparison Chart – Law Society of Alberta