QuickBooks for Law Firms – An Uptime Legal Review

Introduction to QuickBooks for Law Firms

QuickBooks is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to accounting for businesses. And with good reason. QuickBooks provides easy to learn software that is periodically updated to keep up with business, the desire to use the software regardless of whether someone is at home or in the office, and the continuing desire to view and pay invoices online. QuickBooks also has an option specifically for law firms. That’s right – one of the most trusted names in DIY business accounting is an option for law firms. In this post, we’re going to review QuickBooks for law firms so that you can decide if QuickBooks is right for the specific needs of your firm. Let’s get started!

QuickBooks Overview

QuickBooks for law firms is an accounting (and to a lesser degree: billing) software used by law firms the world over. QuickBooks can be installed to the hard drive of a computer (desktop installation) and an online version of the software. QuickBooks is produced and supported by Intuit. QuickBooks for law firms also comes with a free trial. It’s an option for law firms looking for an all-in-one solution for:

  • Law firm accounting (including the creation of and ability to send out invoices)
  • Legal billing (including both time keeping and tracking retainers paid)
  • Report creation

Trusted by more than 8,000 law firms, QuickBooks isn’t just another fly-by-night company looking to get into offering “cloud-based” solutions for lawyers. QuickBooks for law firms can be great for any size law firm, but it is also appealing for those setting up new firms who may not know the best software choice to help them manage their accounting. QuickBooks provides support as well as a forum for questions and answers by actual users of the software.

However, this is a big difference between the functionality of the desktop version and the online (“cloud” based) option. The online version provides law firms with less functionality because they won’t get access to all of the features found in the desktop version. Don’t worry – we have good news for you if you’re interested in cloud-based accounting and practice management. The desktop version of QuickBooks for law firms can be hosted in a virtual desktop environment. This gives you the benefits of the full version of QuickBooks, but the many benefits of moving to the cloud.

Related: Virtual Desktops for Law Firms

Key Features

QuickBooks for law firms provides a lot of great features. The key features include:

  • Manage hourly billing rates. From junior associates to senior partners to paralegals, QuickBooks for law firms allows you to set an hourly billing rate for all of your billable activities.
  • Track time and bill expenses. QuickBooks for law firms gives you the ability to track your time as well as add expenses to each matter as required.
  • Create reports for every client.This particular feature is great when it’s time to provide updates on case matters to clients.Reports can be sent directly to clients, others in the firm, or yourself whenever you want. You can even schedule these reports in advance.
  • Full spectrum invoicing features. QuickBooks for law firms handles invoicing from start to finish. Clients can pay online after they receive their invoice.
  • Track expenses for your law firm. Import transactions from bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal, and other online payment vendors.You can also have transactions automatically sorted into specific categories. If you’re on the move, you can use your smart phone to take a picture of your receipt and upload it directly into QuickBooks.
  • Pay your employees. QuickBooks for law firm provides law firms with free direct deposit. Your employees can get their money in as little as 24 hours. You can even use QuickBooks to file and pay the payroll taxes. Did we mention unlimited payroll? Because you get unlimited payroll.

What We Like about QuickBooks for Law Firms

There’s a lot to like about QuickBooks for law firms. Our favorite features include:

  • Loan amortization and tracker. QuickBooks gives law firms the ability to determine the cost of assets and debts over a specific length of time as well as the time it takes to repay loans. You can directly track the checks or transactions used to pay on loans. For intangible assets, you can track how long it takes to deplete the assets.This has the potential to make tax time easier for law firms.
  • Time tracking for lawyers and support staff with billable activities. QuickBooks for law firms creates an easy way for lawyers and support staff who take part in billable activities with a simple way to track their time for invoicing purposes. There’s also a companion app that allows lawyers and key staff to track their time from their smart phone. Not only does this make invoice creation easier, it also makes payroll easier.
  • Report creation made simple. QuickBooks for law firms makes report creation simple from a computer or from your smartphone. Create profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, track retainers, or customize reports for individual clients or matters with just a few easy steps. The ability to create the reports when you need them (or schedule them for certain intervals) helps law firms understand whether their money is working for them.
  • Memorized transactions save you time. Use memorized transactions to automatically create (and track) certain transactions. This is particularly useful when you need to enter or create the same (or similar) transactions again and again. You can use it for law firm bills, payments, invoicing, and more. If you don’t have any transactions you’d like QuickBooks to “memorize,” the feature is easy to disable. However, this particular function can make your law firm accounting more accurate since it eliminates a lot of potential mistakes.
  • Your accountant (probably) likes it. Almost every CPA in the US knows and prefers QuickBooks. This means your accountant can jump right into your practice with minimal learning curve. (In fact, many accountants will even go so far as to resist switching to different software.)

No Trust Accounting

The one potential drawback of QuickBooks for law firms is the lack of true trust/IOLATA accounting. The rules and regulations for managing trust accounts are very specific; if your firm manages trust accounts, I recommend using legal-specific accounting software that was designed to manage trust accounting and has built-in enforcement of IOLTA rules.

If this is you, I recommend taking a look at legal accounting solutions such as:

The Uptime Verdict

QuickBooks for law firms is an incredibly useful accounting, time tracking, payroll managing, and invoicing tool for law firms regardless of size.However, it’s far more helpful to law firms to rely on the desktop version instead of the current online version. If you’re looking for portability in addition to the full functionality of QuickBooks for law firms, consider having the desktop version installed to a private cloud.

Better in the Cloud

To keep the full functionality of QuickBooks when you’re on the go or even if you’re a lawyer with a virtual office, choose a private legal cloud platform, like Uptime Practice, to host QuickBooks for you. You’ll get access to all of the features you need while being able to access the software from anywhere.

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About the Author: Dennis Dimka
Dennis Dimka is the CEO and founder of Uptime Legal Systems, North America's leading provider of technology, cloud and marketing services to law firms. Dennis is the author of Law Practice as a Service: How and Why to Move Your Law Firm to the Cloud, and was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2016. Follow Dennis on LinkedIn.

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