Every small law firm has their own unique challenges—whether it’s spending too much time on administrative tasks or dealing with late payments. The good news is small law firm billing software has the power to help firms overcome these barriers. And as a result, unleashing new levels of success for small law firms everywhere.
Let’s say, for example, your law firm is the heart of your small community. Odds are, some clients are looking for alternative payment options to ease the burden of their legal fees. Given the close relationship you have with them, you should offer a more client-centered experience. Or, you might be one of several small firms in your community and looking for ways to separate yourself from the competition.
In both cases, small law firm billing software helps by allowing you to easily accept multiple payment options. After all, that’s what clients want. According to the 2022 Legal Trends Report:
- 70% of legal clients want the option to pay via payment plan
- 53% want the opportunity to crowdfund their legal bills
This barely scratches the surface of the capabilities of small law firm billing software. Read on as we highlight the many payment possibilities and look at the best small law firm billing software solutions in 2022.
What are the functions of a successful billing system in a law firm?
Legal billing software allows lawyers to effortlessly track their work and receive payment for it. For small law firms, billing systems can bring an array of benefits. It can make lawyers’ lives easier with the ability to track their hours in real time, create and send invoices in a few clicks, send automatic payment reminders, and accept multiple payment options (including credit card, debit, and eCheck).
The best small law firm billing options on the market
We’ve established that legal e-billing software can make a real difference at a small law firm by streamlining time-consuming tasks. That said, not all solutions are created equal. Let’s explore some of the best options available for small law firms.
Founded in 2008, Clio brought the first cloud-based practice legal management software for law firms. Clio Payments—which is Clio’s built-in payment solution—offers a fast, flexible, and convenient way to manage a law firm’s collections.
- It’s affordable. All Clio Manage subscriptions come with the ability to accept online payments. Clio Payments offers competitive rates (2.8% on all debit and credit transactions and $2.00 per eCheck transaction)—and will never charge for hidden or variable card network fees.
- Clients gain flexibility. With Clio Payments, clients can easily pay their legal bills using credit card, debit, or eCheck. They can also set up alternative payment options, such as payment plans.
- It saves time. By offering the ability to easily track time, create invoices, and send electronic bills to clients, Clio Payments reduces the time spent on routine administrative tasks. Plus: Clio integrates with Xero and QuickBooks Online, which means users can say goodbye to error-prone manual data entry.
- You’ll gain true peace of mind. Clients sleep well knowing that Clio Payments is PCI-compliant and follows IOLTA and trust accounting standards. Earned and unearned fees are kept separate, and transaction fees never come out of your trust account.
- World-class support. Clio has cemented a reputation for a bunch of things—its stellar customer support among them. Customers have access to the company’s award-winning team 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday, be it through live chat, phone, or email.
“Clio makes billing simple and task management easy. I am sold and have recommended it to numerous solo and small firm leaders. Clio is very service oriented. Should I have a question, Clio gives me the answer quickly and allows me to get back to serving my clients.” – David Crawford, Owner, Crawford I.P. Law
- Geographic restrictions. Clio Payments and some integrations are only available in certain countries. Presently, Clio Payments is best for law firms practicing in the US or Canada.
LawPay and MyCase
MyCase is a practice management platform designed for small and medium-sized firms. Their software doesn’t include payments capabilities which is why they work with LawPay to offer LawPay Payments to their users.
- Alternative payment options. MyCase allows customers to accept alternative payment options—such as ClientCredit, a legal fee financing solution that lets legal clients pay loans in automated installments.
- Create multiple invoices at once. MyCase’s batch billing feature helps save time by expediting the billing process.
- Higher transaction fees. Users have to pay higher fees on transactions, which can be a challenge for smaller law firms. Transaction fees are 3% for VISA and MasterCard and 3.9% for AmericanExpress. That’s $300 for every $10k processed using a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. $390 for AMEX.
- Inability to apply payments to matters. Users complain about payments being applied to clients, not matters, which can complicate the billing process for staff and clients.
- Lack of integrations. Often results in duplicate and manual data entry for users.
PracticePanther is a law practice management solution that offers case management, billing, time tracking, and automation features.
- Alternative payment methods. PracticePanther offers the ability to pay through alternative methods, such as payment plans—giving clients the flexibility to choose an option that’s best for them.
- Customizable invoices. With customizable invoice templates, PracticePanther lets users create invoices for a range of matters.
- High costs for basic features. Users will have to pay a premium for basic features like flat-fee billing, LEDES billing, and integrations that you would otherwise get automatically with other legal billing providers.
- Limited integrations. PracticePanther has fewer than 30 integrations on its platform.
Rocket Matter is a legal practice management platform with a payment processing feature.
- Built for small law firms. Rocket Matter is specifically designed for solo practitioners and small law firms.
- All or nothing prices. Rocket Matter’s essentials package is very basic, which means you’ll find yourself paying more for features that you would automatically get with other programs.
Smokeball is a “hybrid cloud”-based practice management software offering automatic time and activity tracking, document automation, and legal billing through the same LawPay integration mentioned above.
- Work efficiently. Smokeball comes with batch editing, finalizing and printing, allowing users to generate multiple reports.
- Different interfaces. While billing can be managed online, it’s through a separate product and interface.
- Higher fees. With SmokeBall, you’ll be running your billing through a LawPay integration. While this integration comes with PCI and IOLTA compliance, and they help you meet your trust accounting obligations, LawPay charges higher fees than most legal payment processors.
- Missing cloud benefits. As a “hybrid cloud” program, lawyers aren’t able to do much while they’re traveling.
- Compatibility limitations. Only PCs running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 that meet the minimum technical requirements can run Smokeball. Despite being the most used email service in the world, no Gmail compatibility exists.
- Conflicting programs. Because Smokeball Billing only works with Google Chrome, the local installation may cause issues with other software on your computer.
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Final notes on the best small law firm billing software
As small law firms have unique needs, they also have unique considerations when it comes to selecting the best billing software. Among the top criteria, it’s important to choose a solution that’s easy to set up, cost effective, reduces time spent on administrative tasks, offers flexible payment options, and maintains compliance with IOLTA and trust accounting.
Checking off all boxes may sound like a tall order, but it’s not. Today, a wide range of small law firm billing software solutions—including Clio Payments—are making the billing process easier than ever.
Try the best law firm billing software on the market: Sign up for a Clio Payments demo today.
We published this blog post in November 2022. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Technology
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