Should I use time and billing software? What kind?
Attorneys who have not yet automated their time tracking, expense accounting, and invoice generation should certainly strongly consider doing so. For an attorney who bills by the hour and has several hundred open case files, the benefits in increased accuracy and time saved are obvious. But we encourage even those who bill on a contingency basis, or have only a few dozen open files, to reflect on some of the advantages to computerized time and billing. First of all, a good program provides a database with a wealth of information about clients and attorneys that you can use in many different ways — for billing and payment histories (should you take on more work for this person?); for mass mailings and other marketing (most programs generate labels); for conflict checking, or for management and profit planning (which attorney is generating the most revenue? Which practice areas are? What is the cost/revenue ratio on that matter?). The possibilities, with a good program, are almost limitless. Secondly, the flexibility provided by customized and detailed invoices can make the difference between a client who ignores a bill and one who pays it.
Which program to buy? This is a very difficult question for us to answer, as there are several hundred programs on the market that track attorney time and produce bills, and at least several dozen of these are quite good. What you should buy depends on a multitude of factors, including your budget, whether you want an integrated financial package (i.e., one that includes not only time and billing but general ledger, check writing, and/or payroll as well), your need for a specific feature not found in all programs (like a pop- up timer), and so on. The Practice Resource Center welcomes inquiries, but rather than giving you the name of a “should buy” we generally talk with you to determine your budget and requirements and then suggest several packages you may want to investigate further.