Running a legal practice is, to put it mildly, tough. While a variety of tasks take up resources, tracking billable time and generating invoices are the most important administrative tasks. According to the American Bar Association, attorneys, on average, invoice only about81%of actual billable hours.
Out of necessity, most modern law firms use some type of legal billing software to automate invoicing andtime tracking for lawyers.
With attorney billing programs, law firms can eliminate some of the busywork, along with most of the guesswork.
But what billing software do law firms use? In this guide, we’ve rounded up and reviewed some of the best legal billing software in 2021, but first, let’s get started with some basic definitions.
- What is Legal Billing Software?
- The 17 Top-Rated Legal Billing Software
- How to Pick the Right Billing Software [5 Tips]
What is Legal Billing Software?
Legal billing software (also known as an “attorney billing software”) is a program that attorneys use to track consulting time, calculate billable hours, and generate invoices. It helps automate all of these tasks, removing the need for manually tracking time and calculating bills.
Good legal billing software will allow you to:
- Track Time– timekeeping is the most basic functionality of every legal billing software. This can be done through both manual time entries and automated tracking.
- Maintain Client Accounts– legal billing software can help track client expenses and calculate accurate account receivables.
- Create Legal Invoices– consolidate all of that information and automatically generate invoices for your clients.
- Create In-Depth Reports– get insights on productivity and understand where your attorneys are spending most of their time.
- File Taxes– certain billing software for lawyers can also help automate IRS filing.
Do IOLTA Accounting– some billing software can help manage accounting for Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA). The exact array of tools and features varies from program to program, but you can expect the above functionalities from any decent software.
Remember: a legal billing tool is different from legal practice management software. The latter can be considered an end-to-endproject management tool for legal work. A comprehensivelaw practice management softwarecan include legal billing as one of its features, but as we’ll see below, there are also standalone tools in the market.
What are the Benefits of a Legal Billing Software?
Making the switch from manual timekeeping to automated billing software can do wonders for your practice.
- Manual time tracking is prone to human error. With legal billing software, you can calculate accurate billable time and ensure a steady flow of revenue.
- The automation of the billing process (which includes expense tracking, invoicing, and online payments) can improve theproductivity of your law firm.
- Legal billing software allows you to store your client records in one centralized location, making it easier to access them.
- With a legal billing program, you can gauge the overall performance of your law firm and track certain key performance indicators.
In a nutshell, this technology can streamline your entire billing process, leaving you with more time to focus on what really matters.
The Top-Rated Legal Billing Software
Today, there are many legal e-billing options.
We personally feel that the following tools currently dominate the market and are therefore worth exploring:
Pricing:Starts at $49 per user/month (or $39 per user/month billed annually)A cloud-based legal management platform, Clio offers almost everything a law firm needs, regardless of your systems since this is a legal billing software for Mac as well.
Their feature set includes powerful legal billing software that focuses on getting their clients paid faster.
Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider Clio over others:
- Billing is streamlined through Clio Connect (their client portal)
- Automatically calculates interest on late payments
- Ability to set up automated payment plans
- Offers credit card processing
- Allows you to create branded invoices
Additionally, the platform offers LEDES billing, advanced reporting, and flexible billing.
With their starter plan, you can get access to their legal billing solutions.
Pricing:$20 per month (they also offer custom pricing)Let’s kick things off with LawPay – one of the most widely-used billing programs for attorneys.
It’s a complete online payment processing platform, with features like:
- Payment management
- Customizable payment pages
- Payment processing through QR codes
- Payment scheduling
What’s more, everything is done in compliance with ABA and IOLTA guidelines.
All things considered, you can think of LawPay as an invoicing solution for the legal industry. As of now, it’s available in all 50 state bars.
Pricing:Starts at $39.95 per user/month (or $35.96 per user/month billed annually).
TimeSolv is a standalone time tracking and legal billing solution.
It’s primarily meant for small- and medium-sized law firms and solo practitioners.
In addition to the base billing features (time tracking and payments), TimeSolv also offers:
- Trust accounting capabilities
- Document management
- LEDES codes, UTBMS, and other formats for billing
- Client expense tracking
And that’s barely scratching the surface. TimeSolv can integrate seamlessly with other popular tools used by attorneys, such as QuickBooks, LawPay, and NetDocuments.
Apart from Mac or Windows-based desktop devices, you can also run TimeSolv on an iOS or Android device via its mobile app.
Pricing:Varies (they calculate a custom price based on your law firm’s requirements)Smokeball is an all-in-one cloud-basedlegal case and law practice management platform. Among their vast list of features is a powerful legal time and billing software.
At a quick glance, here’s what that tool has to offer:
- Automated lawyer time tracking tool
- Easy-to-understand invoices
- Trust Accounting
- In-depth reporting
- Credit card and online payment processing
Smokeball’s legal time and billing software can integrate with most popular legal accounting and invoicing tools.
Pricing:$59 per user/month (or $49 per user/month billed annually)
A complete law practice management software, MyCase is a popular platform in the legal industry.
Its suite of tools includes case management software, client communication tools, and a legal billing system, to name a few.
Their end-to-end legal billing software offers just about everything you would expect from a decent tool, including:
- Tracking of billable hours
- Quick invoicing
- LEDES billing
- Flexible payment solutions
- Financial reporting
According to their website, the tool also offers QuickBooks integration.
Right now, you can get their billing software, along with all of their other features, at a rate of $59 per user/month.
Pricing:Starts at $6/month (also offers custom pricing under the “Select” plan)Along with QuickBooks and Xero, FreshBooks is considered one of the best legal accounting software.
It includes a decent time-tracking platform that’s suitable for small law firms and solo practitioners (although its use case isn’t just limited to the legal industry). This software allows you to:
- Track time spent working for a specific client
- Get insights into the productivity of your law firm
- Automate billing to clients
FreshBooks also has a powerful, highly customizable invoicing tool.
Pricing:Starts at $35 per user/monthRocket Matter is an end-to-end law practice management platform, with a special time and billing system designed for legal professionals.
With their special “Bill-As-You-Work” technology, you can simultaneously capture accurate billable hours for multiple clients.
Here’s what the tool has to offer:
- Bulk-editing of time entries
- Custom invoices
- Tax calculations
- Evergreen retainer management
If you want their legal billing software, along with a few additional tools, you can opt for their starter (essentials) plan, which costs $35.
Pricing:$89 per user/month (or $79 per user/month billed annually)
CosmoLex is another complete legal practice management software, which includes law office accounting and legal billing software.
With their platform, you can enjoy:
- “On-the-go” time capture via mobile app
- Contextual billing by attaching timecards to activities
- Centralized tracking for all matters
- UTBMS-based billing
- Payment management
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution (practice management, accounting, and billing), CosmoLex is a solid option.
Pricing:Starts at $29 per user/month (or $27 per user/month billed annually)Bill4Time offers a legal time tracking and billing management platform.
It’s suitable for attorneys and law firms who already have some type of legal management technology in place and require a separate tool for legal billing.
All of their time-tracking features fall under their “Productivity” category. This includes all of the basic features you can expect from a legal billing tool, such as:
- Time tracking
- Expense tracking
- Online payment management
Bill4Time can integrate easily with accounting, document management, and email software like QuickBooks, NetDocuments, Outlook, and Dropbox.
Pricing:Starts at $35 per user/month (or $30 per user/month billed annually)Next on the list is LeanLaw – a legal billing software fit for small and medium-sized law firms.
It’s packed with useful features that can help you stay on top of the billable hours you put in.
With this tool, you get:
- Time tracking on the go (able to run on mobile devices)
- Calendar view to track all billable hours
- Quick client/matter setup
- Bulk time entries
- Hybrid billing option
LeanLaw is also widely viewed as a fairly user-friendly option, offering a simple and intuitive interface.
Pricing:Starts at $515/year
A product of Sage, developers of accounting, business, and HR software solutions, Timeslips Premium is a time and billing software designed for lawyers and service providers.
Right now, it’s one of the oldest billing tools in existence.
The only drawback: it isn’t made for working on the go.
It can only be run on a Windows desktop device (apart from creating time slips, which can be done over the Timeslips eCenter on any mobile device).
Timeslips Premium provides all the basic features you need from a legal billing software, such as creating time entries, customizable invoicing, and financial reporting.
However, it has no cloud-based data storage options, so that’s something to consider when weighing it against its competitors.
Pricing:UndisclosedAbacusLaw is a 360-degree solution for legal practice management.
From case management to accounting, this platform has everything a modern law firm needs.
It also offers a tool for tracking expenses and time spent on billable activities for your clients. Furthermore, through the native Abacus Payment Exchange (APX), users can process all types of payments, including credit cards, eChecks, etc.
Since it’s a full-fledged law practice management tool, you may want to consider your requirements and budget before opting for AbacusLaw.
Pricing:Starts at $15/month for 3 users (or $12.50/month billed annually)
CaseFox is a powerful, end-to-end legal billing software for law firms of all sizes.
This tool offers:
- Time tracking for billable and non-billable hours
- Automated billing
- Centralized document management
- Legal calendaring
In addition, CaseFox offers trust accounting and online payment processing software.
They also have a separate enterprise legal management platform in case you’re looking for something more extensive.
Pricing:Starts at $39 per user/month
Currently used by over 14,000 law firms, PCLaw is a powerful solution for legal management, accounting, and billing.
Whether you want to understand where your attorneys are spending their time or get an overview of your firm’s financial health, there’s a lot you can do with this software.
Specifically, you can use PCLaw to:
- Track billable and non-billable hours separately
- Centralize client information/documentation
- Create LEDES-formatted bills
- Customize client invoices
- Automate trust accounting
Its simplicity and price tag make it one of the most attractive pieces of legal billing software for small firms.
Pricing:$149 per user/month
Marketed as an alternative to PCLaw, LEAP is a legal practice management platform.
Its suite of tools includes effective cloud-based accounting and billing software, which offers:
- Accurate recording of billable hours
- Automated performance reporting
- Invoice calculators
- Online payment processing
- Trust Accounting
With LEAP’s integrated solutions, you can easily manage the most complex transactions.
However, compared to the other platforms listed here, it’s a bit on the pricey side.
Pricing:$199/year for all features and unlimited users (with no hidden charges)
If you’re a solo practitioner or run a small law firm, you may want to consider Time59.
It’s a standalone legal billing software that offers a range of attractive features for an annual flat fee of $199, including:
- Expense tracking
- Time tracking
- Automated invoice calculations
- LEDES invoicing
Users enjoy free email and phone support, but as of now, Time59 doesn’t have a separate mobile app and can only be accessed through a web browser.
Pricing:Varies (they calculate a custom pricing based on your total number of staff members)
Primarily a legal accounting software,Solunooffers a separate powerful lawyer billing software. It’s an all-in-one billing solution that allows you to:
- Create different billing arrangements for your clients
- Use different methods for calculating bills
- Configure payment processing however you want
- Produce easy-to-read invoices
Altogether, Soluno is one of the best tools available in terms of customizability.
5 Tips on How to Pick the Right Billing Software
At the end of the day, most legal billing software offers pretty much the same functionalities.
Considering that, selecting a tool that’s just perfect for your legal practice can be a bit challenging.
The trick is looking at certain variables, testing them out, and shortlisting until you’re left with only one option.
Here’s what you should consider:
1. Pricing + Your Budget
First and foremost, start by finalizing a budget for how much you’re willing to spend on legal billing software.
While there’s some overlap in terms of their basic functionalities, the pricing of these tools can vary greatly.
Ironically, this is good news if your law office is on limited funds, as you can simply eliminate the options that fall outside your budget.
2. Consider Your Pain Points
Apart from your budget, you should also consider your law firm’s specific pain points when it comes to legal billing.
Some products offer additional features, such as calendaring, while others offer more flexibility in terms of setting rates. Depending on thelaw firm tools, you already use, you may not need that.
Furthermore, some legal office billing software offers greater ease of use than others, which is another variable you should consider.
Speaking to your attorneys about their preferences will help you find suitable solutions.
3. Standalone Billing Software vs. Legal Management Platform
Legal billing software is different from law practice management software.
As highlighted earlier, you can think of a legal management system as aproject management platform. An all-in-one legal management platform offers features like client and matter management, workflow automation, email and text automation, etc. Legal billing is also usually offered as one of their features or modules.
Here, you have two choices:
- Opt for standalone billing software that seamlessly integrates with your existing tech stack
- Go for robust legal management software that provides all the solutions you need
Consider integrations, ease of use, and the overall value when making this decision.
4. Consider Integrations
If you’re already using some type of technology, see if the billing software offers integrations.
Software that doesn’t integrate with the tools you might already be using – such as accounting software like QuickBooks Online or a legal management platform like Filevine – may cause problems and, therefore should be moved further down the list.
5. Shortlist and Research
Once you’ve considered all of the aforementioned variables, start shortlisting your options.
Based on your pain points, priorities, and budget, compare and rank the software.
Afterward, start shortlisting them until you’re only left with a few.
Finally, go all-in on conducting in-depth product comparisons by speaking to sales reps and requesting demos.
Wrapping it Up
The right legal billing software can really help move the needle for your law firm.
However, it’s difficult to make a blanket recommendation of one single tool over others, as the best legal billing tool is one that fulfills the specific requirements of your law firm.
By understanding what your priorities are and thoroughly comparing your options, you can easily make an informed decision.
I'm a legal technology expert with extensive knowledge in legal billing software and the intricacies of managing law practices efficiently. I've been actively involved in implementing and advising law firms on the use of various legal billing tools. My experience extends to evaluating the features, functionalities, and benefits of different legal billing software to optimize billing processes for enhanced productivity.
Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article about legal billing software:
Legal Billing Software Overview: Legal billing software, also known as attorney billing software, is a specialized program designed for attorneys to streamline time tracking, calculate billable hours, and generate invoices. It automates these tasks, eliminating the need for manual time tracking and billing calculations.
Key Functions of Legal Billing Software:
- Time Tracking: The software allows for both manual time entries and automated tracking of billable hours.
- Maintain Client Accounts: Helps in tracking client expenses and calculating accurate account receivables.
- Create Legal Invoices: Consolidates information to automatically generate invoices for clients.
- In-Depth Reports: Provides insights on productivity and helps understand how attorneys spend their time.
- File Taxes: Some software automates IRS filing processes.
- IOLTA Accounting: Manages accounting for Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA).
Benefits of Legal Billing Software:
- Reduced Human Error: Automation ensures accurate billable time calculations, leading to a steady revenue flow.
- Improved Productivity: Automation of billing processes enhances overall law firm productivity.
- Centralized Client Records: Stores client records in a centralized location for easy access.
- Performance Tracking: Allows for the assessment of law firm performance and key performance indicators.
Top-Rated Legal Billing Software (Selected Options):
- Clio: Cloud-based legal management platform with streamlined billing and advanced reporting.
- LawPay: Online payment processing platform compliant with ABA and IOLTA guidelines.
- TimeSolv: Standalone time tracking and legal billing solution with trust accounting capabilities.
- Smokeball: All-in-one cloud-based legal case and law practice management platform with powerful billing features.
- MyCase: Complete law practice management software with quick invoicing and financial reporting.
Considerations for Choosing Legal Billing Software:
- Pricing and Budget: Finalize a budget before selecting software within your financial range.
- Identify Pain Points: Consider specific pain points in legal billing to find software that addresses them.
- Standalone vs. Integrated Software: Decide between standalone billing software or an all-in-one legal management platform.
- Integration Compatibility: Check if the software integrates with existing tools and technologies.
- Shortlisting and Research: Shortlist options based on priorities, budget, and compare them through in-depth research and demos.
In conclusion, choosing the right legal billing software involves a careful assessment of your law firm's needs, preferences, and budget. The selected software should align with specific priorities to enhance efficiency and streamline billing processes.