Law firms require unique accounting software that does more than general bookkeeping. Law firm bookkeeping software also must handle client trust accounts (CTAs), including interest on lawyers’ trust accounts (IOLTAs) They have to track time and expenses spent on cases meticulously and maintain detailed records to properly bill the client. Legal accounting software is designed to help lawyers manage their revenue efficiently, improve their billing process, and gain valuable insight into their financial health. We reviewed numerous accounting software options to identify the best all-in-one solutions as well as some law firm integrations for popular bookkeeping programs.
- PCLaw: Best overall all-in-one law firm accounting software.
- CosmoLex: Best for law firms that want an all-in-one cloud-based accounting and practice management solution
- LeanLaw: Best legal accounting software integration for QuickBooks Online user
- TimeSolv: Best integration for law firms that use Xero accounting software
- Zola Suite: Best for law firms seeking a less expensive all-in-one cloud-based solution
How We Evaluated Law Firm Accounting Software
Law firm accounting software contains features usually not included in general bookkeeping programs, including trust/IOLTA accounting, financial reporting by matter, and practice management. A legal-specific accounting system must perform a three-way reconciliation of client ledgers, trust account, and bank statements. We evaluated our best law firm accounting software based on pricing, ease of use, customer support, and the availability of essential legal-specific features including:
- Matter management: The best law firm accounting software should have a streamlined way of managing legal matters, including contracts and transactions, trust accounting, billing of case-related events, and compliance.
- Time tracking: As a lawyer, you need good software to track the time you spend on different clients and cases accurately.
- Trust accounting: The software must provide a way to track both aggregate client funds in your client trust account and the amount of those funds owed to each client. The software also must provide a list of trust transactions separated by the client. Finally, you should be able to perform a triple reconciliation between the client trust account, client ledgers, and bank statement easily.
- Billing system: The billing system must track time and expenses by client job and service code. Billing rates should be allowed to vary by service code and employee. Employees should be able to track and report time and expenses while away from the office. Finally, the billing system should generate professional-looking invoices that can be printed or emailed.
- Practice management: You also might like practice management features integrated with your accounting and billing systems. Common features include client portals, secure communications, document management, calendars with integrated time tracking, and matter dashboards with links to all relevant parties, documents, time, expenses, and invoices.
PCLaw: Best Overall All-In-One Law Firm Accounting Software
PCLaw by LexisNexis is a popular practice management and accounting software that allows law firms to manage matters, track time and expenses, pay vendors, accept client payments, and manage trust accounts in one place. The program is ideal for both solo practitioners and law firms that track billable hours and calculate profit per hour.
Our Expert Opinion
You can find almost everything you need in PCLaw. You can use LEDES codes to streamline client billing, create multiple accounts for client trusts, firm funds, and IOLTA accounts, create tasks and assign to different lawyers, and track time on the go with its mobile timekeeping app, PCLaw Go. Since it’s part of the LexisNexis family of legal practice management products, there are plenty of ways you can connect it with other programs that you currently use. It doesn’t have a built-in payroll management tool, but it integrates with ADP to process payroll duties. PCLaw is powerful but complicated legal accounting software, so you might want to enlist the help of a professional bookkeeper or accountant who is familiar with the program.
CosmoLex: Best All-in-One Cloud-based Legal Accounting Software
Just like PCLaw, CosmoLex is an all-in-one accounting and legal practice management solution but is cloud-based rather than being installed on your local computer or network. PCLaw has a rich set of features, including time tracking, trust accounting, billing, and task and document management. It is part of the Tabs3 family that provides specialized law firm software for solo and midsized law firms.
Our Expert Opinion
What sets CosmoLex apart is its built-in legal-specific accounting suite, which you can’t find in most legal practice management programs. This means you don’t have to subscribe to QuickBooks or any other accounting software. With CosmoLex, you can track and manage tasks and activities, capture billable hours, accept contingent, flat, or hourly fees, and accept payments with LawPay. It includes more than 100 reporting options to help you better understand your firm’s financial performance. On the downside, CosmoLex doesn’t have ample integration with third-party tools, which can be an issue if you’re using multiple software in your practice. For instance, you might need to look for an alternative if you want a solution with integrated customer relationship management (CRM) tools and client intake forms.
LeanLaw: Best for Small Law Firms When Integrated With QuickBooks Online
If you are a QuickBooks Online user but need a legal accounting system that complies with trust accounting rules and will perform a three-way reconciliation, LeanLaw is the right solution for you. It is ideal for law firms with up to 30 attorneys. QuickBooks Online is already our best overall small business accounting software, but LeanLaw takes it one step further and converts it from general bookkeeping to a very capable legal billing and accounting system.
Our Expert Opinion
LeanLaw is mostly a legal billing software, but one of its biggest strengths is that it reconciles trust accounts automatically. If your IOLTA funds keep going out of balance, LeanLaw will help you fix it. Its powerful IOLTA accounting built into the invoicing workflow allows you to make legal trust deposits and pay invoices directly from your trust accounts. On top of its deep QuickBooks integration, it also comes with a comprehensive time tracking tool that allows you to capture time using any device. Time entries are converted into invoices automatically through QuickBooks, and electronic payments can be processed through the Intuit Payment Network. LeanLaw also supports standard LEDES codes for easy invoicing.
TimeSolv: Best Law Firm Bookkeeping Integration for Firms Using Xero
TimeSolv is a cloud-based timekeeping and billing solution with integrated project management capabilities. The program is not solely focused on project management, but it has strong features for tracking time, expenses, fees, and profits per case. It integrates with your other favorite tools like QuickBooks, Xero, Microsoft 365, and Dropbox.
Our Expert Opinion
TimeSolv converts your Xero bookkeeping software to powerful law firm software. TimeSolv is cloud-based, making it easy to track time and expenses from anywhere. It provides both the required trust accounting with three-way reconciliation as well as tools to help better manage your client matters. If you bill on a detailed hourly basis or need to track associate performance, you will most likely benefit from this program. TimeSolv also has a great list of legal management features like trust accounting, budgeting, document management, and project management. You can use its mobile application to track a matter or project on the go.
Zola Suite: Least Expensive All-in-One Cloud-based Solution
Zola Suite is a full-featured cloud-based law practice management platform with integrated intelligent email management for managing case-related messages. Some of its most notable features include matter management, document management, task management, time tracking and billing, and trust accounting. It’s suitable for law firms with three or more users.
Our Expert Opinion
Zola Suite is right for legal professionals looking for a less expensive, cloud-based, all-in-one solution and willing to give up a few more advanced features. Zola Suite Core, at $69 per month, will save you $20 per month, per user, compared to CosmoLex. You can start with the Core plan and upgrade to Enterprise if you decide you need the extra features. It is also a great fit for firms that handle a large volume of documents every day, especially if you’re using Office365 or GSuite. Its integrated email management tool helps you manage case-related contacts and messages easily through email. Zola Suite is also ideal if you’re using other Zola products. For instance, you can send invoices to clients easily using Zola Caseway.
PCLaw is one of the few legal management software that doesn’t require a separate program for accounting. It is a complete package with handy features, such as simplified billing, easy time and expense capture, and a broad range of integrations with other LexisNexis products and third-party software. If you don’t want to use separate programs for managing your bank accounts, cases, clients, and legal matters, PCLaw is right for you.