Computerized Accounting Software Systems continued

Integrated Legal Accounting Systems

Examples: PCLAW and PCLAW PRO, ESILAW, Brief Accounting, Tabs III.

These packages take the idea of a general accounting and financial statement package, and apply them to the specific needs of the legal market. As well as offering all the features of the general accounting systems, they can (and usually do) incorporate conflict checking, calendaring (bring forward systems) and management reports specific to lawyers and law offices. They are usually available from local distributors, from sales offices or on the Internet.

Initial cost: Typically $1000 and up

Benefits:

  • Full computerized accounting system
  • Some integrated legal systems (conflict checking,calendaring, bring-forward systems)
  • Integrated time and billing

Drawbacks:

  • Require training to use the component parts effectively; usually require a trained or experienced bookkeeper or accounting department

Fully Integrated Accounting and Law Practice Management Software

Examples: ProLaw, Integra Office System, CMS Open, Javelan, Elite Information Systems, Gryphon99, Juris, etc.

These packages offer all the features of the integrated legal accounting systems, modules for (or have already fully integrated) case and file management, full integration of time and billing into the accounting system, and full office management reporting.

Initial cost: Typically thousands of dollars (Integra is the exception starting at $600)

Benefits:

  • One-stop shopping
  • Usually offer a full-line of modules that extend the accounting system into a full accounting and case management system
  • Integrate multiple offices

Drawbacks:

  • Some may be more suited for larger law firms or ones requiring a fully integrated office solution (Integra is the exception)
  • Training in the systems is required
  • Dedicated staff may be required to manage and run the system
  • more expensive

Credits: Portions of the material in this appendix are taken from the paper, "Trust Accounting and Case Management Technology", by David Bilinksy, Practice Management Advisor, LSBC, found on the LSBC website.

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This section should be updated with reference to newer practice management software like Clio, Cosmolex and Practice Panther.