Gone are the days when most legal professionals would manually track their billable hours, create and mail an invoice, travel to the bank to process the check, and finally, record the payment. It’s not exactly a process that lends itself to high productivity—which is why savvy lawyers have been switching to legal e-billing management programs in droves.
The payoff of doing so is huge. Legal e-billing programs carry a host of transformative benefits, including a substantial increase in time savings, improved accuracy, quicker payments, and higher revenue. And it’s not only legal experts who benefit: clients gain the flexibility to easily pay bills from anywhere and with a payment method of their choice.
Making the leap to an e-billing management program may feel daunting. But with the right software, it can be straightforward. So to help, we’re sharing everything you need to know about legal e-billing and highlighting some of the leading e-billing management programs available.
What is legal e-billing?
Legal e-billing, short for legal electronic billing, is basically a system that simplifies the entire billing process. By harnessing the power of technology, it allows lawyers to effortlessly track their time and expenses—as well as create, review, and deliver invoices to clients electronically.
What billing software do law firms use?
A crop of legal e-billing management solutions have emerged in recent years. Some of the top programs used by law firms are Clio, MyCase, PracticePanther, Rocket Matter, and AbacusLaw. These legal-specific billing software solutions are designed with the unique needs of law firms in mind, offering trust accounting features, contingency fee billing, and much more.
What should I look for in a legal e-billing management program?
The top legal e-billing management programs save your team time, boost efficiencies, improve client satisfaction, and increase cash flow. Checking all of these boxes may sound like a tall order, but it’s entirely possible with the right program.
So, where do you start? There are a number of features to look for when choosing a legal e-billing management program, including:
- A seamless setup
- Varied billing arrangements
- Low processing fees
- Easy time and expense tracking
- Automated invoicing
- Integrations with your existing software
- Customizable billing and invoice templates
- Payment reminders
- Credit card processing
The best legal e-billing management programs
We’ve rounded up five of the most popular legal e-billing management programs for law firms—along with perks and pitfalls to be mindful of when choosing a solution.
Founded in 2008, Clio is the world’s leading provider of cloud-based legal software. One reason why tens of thousands of legal professionals choose Clio’s cloud-based software? Legal e-billing is included with all Clio Manage subscriptions. This means that users can handle everything from client intake to billing in one central place. That’s precisely what stood out for Anna Valiente Gomez, a solo attorney.
“Instead of managing 10 different subscriptions, use Clio and you will have everything in one place, from clients and matters to payments,” she explains. “It’s the most user-friendly, intuitive software out there.”
Clio’s legal billing software gives lawyers the ability to effortlessly track billable time through the use of a stopwatch, directly from their inbox, or while on-the-go through Clio’s mobile app. Considering that Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report found that lawyers spend only 2.5 hours each workday on billable work, this can make a significant impact on a law firm’s bottom line.
Clio Payments also allows firms to accept payments online (including credit, debit, and eCheck), while keeping transactions secure, protected, and compliant with IOLTA and trust accounting rules—which is something that stood out for Casey J. Lee, a solo attorney at CJL Law: “Clio Payments removed any hesitancy I had around accepting online payments, especially surrounding IOLTA accounts.”
It’s affordable, too. Firms pay one flat and simple rate of 2.8% on all credit and debit card transactions and $2.00 per eCheck transaction. Unlike other providers, Clio never charges for hidden or variable card network fees.
Clio also integrates with over 200 third-party applications, including Microsoft Outlook and Teams, Google’s Gmail and Google My Business, and Zoom. And with customer support offered 24 hours a day, five days a week and a flawless set-up, clients can feel confident in knowing that they have a partner that’s dedicated to their success.
MyCase is a web-based legal practice management system that was launched in 2010. Created for small law firms, the solution covers lead management, case management, billing and invoicing, and reporting. MyCase is currently owned by a private equity firm headquartered in Europe.
- An all-in-one solution. From client intake to billing, MyCase’s practice management software allows lawyers to run their practice from one central place.
- Easy to use. MyCase scores top points among users for having an intuitive, user-friendly platform.
- Flexible payments. MyCase accepts bank transfers, credit card payments, eCheck, ACH, and more.
- High processing fees = higher total costs. MyCase charges 3% for all major credit cards and 4% for Amex. Customers pay an extra $100–$200 more for every $10,000 processed compared to Clio—which can add up significantly over time.
- Inflexible pricing options. MyCase offers a baseline solution with no opportunities to tailor features to the needs of your firm.
- Lacks essential integrations. MyCase lacks essential integrations with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Zoom, Zapier, and more. The result? A good chunk of time is spent adding entries between platforms, which increases the risk for human error.
PracticePanther is a cloud-based legal management solution that was founded in 2012 to help lawyers better manage and grow their firms. Although it’s been in business for a decade, the company remains small.
- Easy time and expense keeping. PracticePanther allows users to track billable time and expenses from anywhere.
- Multiple ways to collect payment. PracticePanther launched in-house payments to their suite of offerings in 2020, and now accepts all major credit cards and eChecks. The platform also offers automated reminders for outstanding invoices.
- Intuitive interface. PracticePanther’s intuitive design makes it easy to navigate and stay up to date on daily activities.
- Added costs for essential practice features. PracticePanther requires additional product subscriptions for basic functionalities included in Clio’s core subscription plans. These hidden costs add up quickly and are difficult to justify for basic law firm essentials.
- Limited, less robust integrations. PracticePanther offers fewer than 25 integrations with no clear plan for expansion (Clio has 200+, by comparison). Its limited integration interface limits the ability to sync with other software, leading to inefficient double-entry workflows that take additional time and increase the risk for human error.
- Lower-tier plans lack firm core functionalities. Basic features like flat-fee billing, LEDES billing, and the ability to integrate with other software is limited to PracticePanther’s top-tier Business plan. PracticePanther also charges higher processing fees for the most popular credit card service providers, increasing the total cost of ownership.
Founded in 2008, Rocket Matter is an all-in-one legal practice management platform designed for small and mid-sized law firms. Despite being around for several years, the company has struggled to scale.
- Easy time tracking. Rocket Matter’s “Bill-As-You-Work” technology allows clients to capture billable time with ease and accuracy.
- Automated payments. Users can create automated recurring billing and payment plans.
- Customizable invoices. Rocket Matter’s legal billing software allows users to customize invoices with their firm’s logo, fonts, and colors.
- An unintuitive mix of features. Rocket Matter has an unintuitive and dated design that makes simple tasks difficult. A customer was quoted comparing using RocketMatter to “driving an old used car held together with duct tape.”
- Limited integrations. Rocket Matter has less than 20 integrations available. A lack of integrations means users have to manually enter data, which slows firms down and increases the risk for human error.
- All or nothing pricing. Rocket Matter has three offerings. However, as their “essentials” package is very basic, customers are left with two viable options. They also have higher processing fees than Clio Payments.
Abacus is a cloud-based tech provider that offers legal practice management software. The company is one of the longest standing, having been in business for 25 years.
- Payment options. Abacus allows users to process all types of credit cards, eChecks, and take payments from trust and operating accounts.
- Built-in accounting. Built-in accounting tools allow users to generate reports and capture accounts.
- Limited remote access. On-premise software like Abacus ties users down to a physical server. Remote access is only available through clunky, costly, and problem-ridden remote desktop apps.
- Security becomes another thing to worry about. Abacus is an on-premise server that requires IT support, is open to physical threats, and requires in-person maintenance and updates. Abacus’ security falls on the law firm. With client data physically located in your office, it’s your responsibility to prevent access to sensitive data.
- High fees will cost you. You pay an extra $100 for every $10,000 you process compared to Clio—which means you end up paying more in the long run.
- Prepare to pay for costly add-ons. Abacus tries to lock you into long-term contracts. Hardware and software costs create a barrier to entry that can be difficult for firms to overcome.
The final word on legal e-billing management programs
Legal e-billing management programs hold transformative possibilities for lawyers. But the key to reaping their many rewards lies in choosing a solution wisely. Boasting everything from automated invoices to low processing fees and a dedicated customer service team, Clio is the top choice among modern law firms. In fact, over 150,000 legal professionals and 66 bar associations and law societies worldwide have trusted it to manage their firm’s operations.
We published this blog post in August 2022. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Technology