This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
What We Recommend PCLaw For
PCLaw is a good fit for law firms that need an all-in-one platform for managing their clients, cases, bank reconciliations, billing processes, and financial reports. The program is desktop-based but can also be run in the cloud through private hosting. It is also useful if you’re currently using other products from LexisNexis, such as Amicus Attorney and Time Matters. PCLaw is the most comprehensive legal-specific accounting software we’ve reviewed, making it our choice for the best law firm accounting software.
PCLaw is Especially Good For
- Lawyers that bill clients on hourly rates: PCLaw has a billable time surveillance system, called Time Entry Advisor, which captures billable time automatically. This is particularly useful if you’re billing your clients by the hour.
- Legal practitioners who use Time Matters: PCLaw is ideal if you’re using Time Matters to manage the specifics of each matter or case. Time Matters, from LexisNexis, already has basic billing and document management capabilities, but you can further expand these functionalities by integrating it with PCLaw.
- Law firms looking for LEDES billing: If you’re working for multiple clients, it’s great to have a program like PCLaw that supports Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard (LEDES) files. The LEDES format is the standard legal billing format that allows for easy invoicing, no matter how many clients you have.
PCLaw is Not a Good Fit For
- Lawyers who prefer a completely cloud-based program: PCLaw can be run in the cloud but needs a private server from a third-party hosting provider that requires additional fees and maintenance. If you want a completely cloud-based program, you should consider CosmoLex.
- Law firms that want integrated payroll: PCLaw has no built-in payroll service, which can be a serious problem if you have lots of employees or you don’t have a separate human resources (HR) department. It does integrate with ADP but has steep pricing. You might find TimeSolv a better alternative, as it offers payroll integration with Xero.
- Small law firms on a budget: PCLaw is a powerful but expensive program. Zola Suite might be more suitable for law firms that want full-featured software at a low cost. Zola Suite’s base plan costs $69 per user per month but includes most of the features you’ll find in expensive programs.
Are you looking for something different? If you think general bookkeeping software might be right for your law firm, check out our guide to the best small business accounting software.
Comparison of Best Law Firm Accounting Software
Doesn’t Require Bookkeeping Software Integration
Integrates with QuickBooks Online
Integrates with Xero
Integrates with QuickBooks Online
Integrates with Xero
Client Intake Forms
PCLaw Pros and Cons
|Can be run in the cloud through private hosting||Desktop program requires installation and setup|
|All-in-one legal practice management and accounting solution||No built-in features for managing payroll|
|Tracks time on the go with PCLaw Go||Some reports, such as cash flow planner, have no drill-down options|
|Supports different billing formats, including Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard (LEDES)||No upfront pricing|
PCLaw’s pricing information is not disclosed publicly. You will need to contact LexisNexis directly to request pricing information or a customized quote. You can also request a free demo before buying the program.
New PCLaw Features in 2022
Batch Email Past Due Notices
PCLaw has an Invoice E-mail Queue feature that allows users to create and email client invoices easily. LexisNexis improves this feature by adding the ability to create and email past due notices to urge clients to settle their late payments.
When past due emails are sent successfully, you will receive a notification that they have been delivered to your email client. If the emails fail to send, they are moved to the top of the queue list on the Past Due Current/Unsent tab. You can then resend these unsuccessful emails.
Improved Visual Analytics (Charts)
Reports on accounts payable (A/P) and accounts receivable (A/R) can be viewed in graphs and charts to make large amounts of data easy to understand. You can create graphs and charts to show reports, like billing, payments received, and time spent on specific areas of your law practice. Charts are more flexible, as they can be resized on the screen for better viewing.
PCLaw users will regularly receive updates directly within the PCLaw platform from the PCLaw team about new features, training, and other important information.
Additional Billing Cycles
The PCLaw team has added six new billing cycles in the Matter Management module to provide additional flexibility for firms with unique billing requirements, such as semimonthly, semiquarterly, and annually. The new version now allows you to choose from 12 billing cycles.
Additional Payment Types
To help you create more detailed A/P reports, you can now label payments as debit, automated clearing house (ACH), e-check, e-transfer, or PayPal.
PCLaw Key Features
PCLaw is a comprehensive platform with a rich set of features, such as time and expense tracking, matter management, client and contact management, and more.
From the dashboard, you can see frequently used features and view certain aspects of your firm and client matters. There are three tabs on the main dashboard: My Practice, My Clients, and My Business:
- My Practice: Provides quick links to key tools for managing tasks, calendars, clients, and phone messages
- My Clients: Shows the summary of recent information and activities related to clients and matters, including account details, email, and calendar events
- My Business: Lets you instantly access data and tools used to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), such as work in progress, bank balances, and billable hours
Tip: Microsoft Office should be installed on your computer to use the PCLaw dashboard features properly.
PCLaw has legal accounting features that comply with trust accounting standards. You can perform a wide range of legal-specific accounting tasks, like writing checks and receiving client payments, and use automated reconciliation tools to compare trust bank journal balances to your client trust listing. You can also export your accounting data to QuickBooks and generate different types of reports on trust accounts.
Client Trust Ledger
PCLaw features a client trust ledger that displays trust fund activity for each matter. The report provides a balance of each trust account within the matter, including matter and client totals. The client trust ledger contains three tabs: Common, Matters, and Other. You’ll find most of the commonly used options on any law report in the Common tab, including matter, client, responsible lawyer, and matter totals. The Matters and Other tab contain report options that are not commonly used, like totals for trust matters with trust balances and all matters with activity:
PCLaw allows you to reconcile your bank account statements to your bank journals. You can import your bank statement values in the Select Account window of the Bank Reconciliation section or use the data from your previous reconciliation. The bank statement reconciliation screen in PCLaw shows all marked receipts, marked checks, and new errors entered for a certain period. You can then compare the sum of the marked items against your bank statement balance to see if your records are accurate. Note that if you have two or more trust accounts, you need to run a separate trust listing for each account:
The program supports different billing methods, including flat-fee, hourly, retainer, task-based, and contingency billing. Using electronic billing, you can create invoices with the specific formats required by third-party platforms, such as LEDES, Litigation Advisor, Nationwide, Examen, Tymetrix, and PWC. If you’re struggling with payment collection, PCLaw integrates with PayPros for easy credit card processing.
With PCLaw, you can manage all case-related matters in one place. It has a centralized platform where you can store contacts and critical information about cases and your firm, organize events, documents, and communications, and track to-do lists and deadlines associated with matters.
PCLaw’s Matter Manager provides all the tools you need to handle every aspect of matters, including client management, billing, split matters, and taxes. The main tabs of the matter management module include Billing, Settings, Summary, and Events, among others:
Time and Expense Tracking
PCLaw allows you to track billable time and expenses either by using traditional timesheets or timer plugins. With the new Time Entry Advisor, you can review billed and unbilled hours and then generate multiple time entries. This feature is useful for teams that enter work information throughout a billing period and wish to send them all at once later.
On App Store
PCLaw has a mobile time tracking application, called PCLaw Go, which allows you to enter and capture time remotely, perform routine tasks, and review accounting data using your mobile device. You can download the app on Google Play and the App Store. If you are using the on-premises version, you need to install the PCLaw Connect Manager Windows app―formerly PCLaw Go Manager―before you can use PCLaw Go. You can check out the PCLaw connection manager installation and configuration guide on the PCLaw | Time Matters website.
The document manager is an optional module that helps you store and manage your documents, emails, saved research related to matters, and precedent templates. Documents that you saved to matters appear on the Document Management tab. If you’re a busy lawyer working with countless legal documents every day, then you should enable the document manager in PCLaw:
Client Intake Forms
PCLaw can help you get more clients with its matter intake forms. The program enables you to email an intake form to a potential client using Microsoft Outlook. You can then import the collected data into PCLaw through Microsoft Word. You can create follow-up tasks and appointments as well as conflict checks during the intake process easily. Intake forms can be sent out as an email attachment, printed, or posted on screen:
PCLaw includes 50 standard reports to help you gauge the financial standing of your firm. You can create general business reports, such as a cash flow planner, A/R reports, A/P reports, and productivity reports. Legal-specific reports include time listing, invoice journals, billable time summaries by a working lawyer, billing realization, and more. You can customize your reports based on your firm’s situation or requirements.
On the downside, we found that some of the reports in PCLaw don’t have drill-down options. For instance, the cash flow planner only reports on the short-term cash position of your company. It shows the general balances of your accounts, but it has no summary of each section:
Customer Service and Ease of Use
PCLaw has a streamlined user interface, but it uses legal-specific accounting terms which can be overwhelming for new users or those who don’t have a background in accounting. However, once you get the hang of it, PCLaw can be a powerful tool for your law firm.
You can contact the LexisNexis customer support team by phone and email or sign up for local training with certified independent consultants through its Annual Maintenance Plan (AMP) Membership program. When you are an AMP member, you will receive a variety of benefits, including access to a centralized customer support portal where you can live-chat with PCLaw’s support team, seek help through online support tickets, receive product information, access videos, and more. You will also get access to PCLaw’s online directory of certified independent consultants in case you need help with implementation, workflow customization, or consulting.
You can also check out PCLaw’s online resources to familiarize yourself with the software.
Best for: Lawyers who prefer cloud-based software
Best for: Law firms looking for integrated payroll
Best for: Firms on a low budget seeking a comprehensive program
Software from: $89 per user, per month
Software from: $39.95 per user, per month
Software from: $69 per user, per month
PCLaw is the most comprehensive legal-specific accounting software we’ve reviewed. It allows you to manage the different aspects of your legal practice, from case and matter management to trust accounting and billing. If your firm is currently using separate software to juggle these processes, you can cut costs and streamline your workflows with PCLaw.