Ah, the Easy Life. That’s Your Billing and Trust - Software Working in Blissful Tandem

In the last post, we talked about the necessity of keeping your trust accounts spic and span, and putting retainers into trust accounts until earned.

Easier said than done, right? Especially if you’re a small and busy law firm with a lean staff.

But it is easy if you have our Easy Time Bill and Easy Trust products, legal billing and trust account software designed to work hand in hand.

It’s simple. You get a retainer. Unless it’s one of the exceptions (see below), you put it in escrow.

You bill your time—easy with the built-in timer function in legal time and billing software such as Easy Time Bill (just click it on, then click it off). Every month, you invoice your client against the retainers—also easy, since law firm billing software such as Easy Time Bill collates and itemizes all time for each matter, generating an accurate, easy-to-read invoice. On each invoice, you’ll also need to supply the current balance in that client’s retainer.

Then, you or your billing department can transfer the invoiced funds to your operating account.

If the retainer is in a trust account, this involves:

  • Issuing a check on the trust account for the invoiced amount, payable to your law firm.
  • Depositing the check into your firm's operating account.
  • Applying the deposit to the invoice.
  • Marking the invoice as “paid.”
  • Updating the client's retainer balance accordingly.

If the retainer is in an operating account, this involves:

  • Applying the funds toward the current invoice.
  • Marking the invoices as paid.
  • Updating the client's retainer balance accordingly.

Let’s take an actual example.

1. On January 1, you opened a new case with an initial retainer of $5,000. You deposited the $5,000 in your attorney trust account. Your trust books need to reflect a retainer balance of $5,000.

2. In January, you record $2,700 in time and expenses. You charge it to the matter.

3. On January 31, your books need to reflect the following: $2,700 for the unbilled balance, ad $5,000 for the retainer balance.

4. On February 1, you generate an invoice. This converts unbilled time and expenses to billed. Your books now need to reflect $0 for the unbilled balance, moving the $2,700 into the unpaid balance column. The retainer balance is still $5,000.

5. The same day, you pay the invoice from the client’s retainer balance. Your books now need to reflect the unbilled balance as $0, the unpaid balance as $0, and retainer balance as $2,300. You can make a deposit of $2,300 from your trust account to your operating account.

That’s a lot of steps, right? Trust us: having your law firm billing software work with your escrow software saves a lot of time and aggravation. Our next post will explain what happens when these steps are out of sync.

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