Are you starting a firm and considering time & billing software?
Is your firm established and your thinking about changing billing systems?
You may want to consider PCLaw. These days making a decision on the right legal app for your practice has gotten considerably more complex. There are solutions that need a server within your office to operate, hosted software solutions via the web, applications that live on your desktop but need a web connection as well as cloud based storage solutions. On top of this there is document management, case management, trial management, time & billing & docketing software that overlap in functionality.
With all these options it can be difficult to make the right decision for your firm. We have dealt with software questions so often that we decided to release a legal software review series that focus on reviews for both the good and bad with a dash of our own experience. The ultimate goal is to help make your decision making easier. Also, please feel free to give us a call if you have any PCLaw questions.
I’m proud to say that PCLaw (a LexisNexis product) is used by about 75% of all our law firms clients. For the most part this is not our doing, many of our clients came to us with PCLaw totally & 100% happy with the product. On the whole, PCLaw is an extremely popular time & billing application. It also does case management and a little document management as well, but it’s main focus is time & billing. There’s a reason why PCLaw’s market share is extremely high when it comes to time, billing & legal accounting and extremely low when it comes to document & case management, but we’ll get to that later on.
Time Tracking, Billing & Accounting in One App is Key
PCLaw is known for being the best time, billing & accounting application because it does all three tasks within a single application. For example, TimeSlips is an excellent time tracking system for attorneys, but in order to automate billing, you must link it with QuickBooks. Amcius Attorney is another good example of a piece of software that offers a great practice management system but the new accounting system is really lack luster which is why it links with PCLaw and/or QuickBooks to finish the accounting piece. This is why we say that PCLaw does it all in one application.
Multiple applications for your firm means multiple application purchases, multiple application annual maintenance costs, and the dreaded multiple application linking issues. Linking QuickBooks to Amicus or PCLaw to Time Matters works great until it doesn’t. The link between the two applications does die every once in a while and when it does, you have to call IT support to fix this which overall increases IT costs. There’s also the vendor finger pointing game that occurs during application link problems. When you call Time Matters support they tell you it’s a QuickBooks problem and vise versa. In a nut shell, going with a multiple application platform to satisfy your firms need to track time, bill your clients all with a full legal accounting package will work, but just won’t be as easy or seamless as a single app that does it all, PCLaw.
PCLaw Key Features
- Advanced Reporting Capabilities
- Time Tracking
- Expense Tracking
- Batch Invoicing
- Hourly & Flat-Fee Billing
- Split, Project & Contingency Billing
- LEDES Billing
- Trust Accounting
- Accounts Payable (AP)
- Accounts Receivable (AR)
- Banking & Bank Linking
- Document / Case Management
- Firm Calendaring
- Integration with Outlook & Word
- Integration with Amicus Attorney
- Integration with Time Matters
PCLaw – The Good
- All in One Simplicity. As IT people we really prefer the all-in-one model vs. the multiple package model, it makes our lives easier and causes less headache and downtime for our clients. Amicus Attorney is trying to do this but it’s just not there yet, they’re accounting package is simply not as robust as PCLaw plus PCLaw has the experience wither 15 versions of their product.
- Practice Management Features. PCLaw does support limited practice management features that we feel should be utilized by small firms. These features are not as robust as an Amicus Attorney or Time Matters for that matter but we have a few very happy clients that use them successfully. Mainly we’re talking about firm calendar organization, and document management. I feel that firms don’t utilize these functionalities because they are not aware that the application has these capabilities. As a whole, it’s pretty cool that PCLaw can also be a document management system and firm management platform in addition to time, billing & accounting. There is no other application that can perform all these functions.
- Quick Setup & Intuitive. With very limited assistance an attorney or legal admin can setup PCLaw in around 25 minutes. The application itself is intuitive. We have setup PCLaw for firms very quickly and all the info we needed to accomplish this was specific attorney billing rates so attorneys bill out at the right dollar amounts. It’s fast for firms who are new to PCLaw and even faster for new firms who begin with PCLaw experience.
PCLaw – The Bad & The Ugly
- Lexis Support is OK at Best. As IT people we’re in contact with support pretty often. It’s scary when you know more than the person on the other end of the line who is supposed to help you, and this not only happens to PCLaw support but also to Amicus, TimeSlips, iManage & Worldox support. Terrible software support is a problem in the industry in general, not specific to PCLaw. Just expect when you call the first time to get someone who knows next to nothing and push for a level 2 technician ASAP so you can get your issue fixed and move on with your life. Contacting level 3 support for major database corruption issues are not easy. There are a ton of hoops to jump through and you can’t call them, they can only call you. The good thing is that the Level 3 people are PCLaw geniuses and will undoubtedly fix your issues, if you can get a hold to one.
- PCLaw Database Corruption. In the past, versions of PCLaw before v15 are prone to database corruption. There are a few things you can do to combat against this. First a foremost, have a daily backup of your database. Often when you call support with a corrupt database, support tells you to do a restore. Support will ALWAYS tell you to restore from a previous day before fixing anything. They may be able to easily fix the issue but push for a restore. The problem with restoring is when you restore from a previous day you lose all the time billed between today and the restoration day. You then have to remember in detail all that time that was lost, and re-enter it. There is a strong chance you can grab the time from the corrupt database, but sometimes you can’t. This is a worst case scenario that does happen from time to time. The second thing you can do is run a verify data integrity on your PCLaw database every 2 weeks or every month. This reorganizes the database and fights against corruption. We find many new clients that have never run this VDI tool in years. PCLaw has to improve awareness on the importance of running this tool on a regular basis.
- PCLaw Bookkeepers are Scarce. When you go with PCLaw you have two choices. Have your bookkeeper go through the paid LexisNexis training regiment & learn the software, or hire someone from another firm proficient in PCLaw. You may have a hard time finding someone with PCLaw skills. For new firms with smaller budgets, the managing attorney may have to learn the software first and transfer the knowledge due to the overhead cost of hiring a PCLaw bookkeeper guru. What we’re trying to say is that PCLaw bookkeepers are out there, you just have to find them, and it may be a challenging task.
Rekall Finds Judgement in Favor of PCLaw
In the end, over 15,000 law firms don’t lie. PCLaw is the very best application out there that does it all. Are there other applications? Yes. But PCLaw does it with simplicity a low learning curve and the same terrible support that plagues the industry. If you looking for a robust billing system with time tracking, accounting, excellent reporting and a dash of case management, definitely check out PCLaw. After all, it is the leader in the industry.
PCLaw Cloud Hosting – The Next Generation
Unlock the true potential of PCLaw by hosting it on Rekall’s private cloud with seamless access from anywhere, at anytime, on any device. PCLaw cloud hosting is for firms who either wish to get rid of their on-premise servers or new firms looking to avoid the hardware costs associated with server ownership. Rekall Cloud will give you the ability to not only host PCLaw but also your firm docs, email and any other firm application you work with all with the ability to access your custom cloud anywhere, anytime and from any device.