7 Myths Why QuickBooks Can’t Work for Attorneys

LeanLaw Makes QuickBooks Sing For Lawyers

Has your accountant or bookkeeper told you shouldn’t use QuickBooks Online for your law firm? Have you had trouble with legal trust accounting or timekeeping and legal billing, just to name a few? Like many myths, there is usually a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Let’s be frank: If you try to use QuickBooks Online by itself in your law firm, there are legal-specific features you will miss. But QuickBooks Online isn’t the young product it was a few years ago — there’s a lot of power under the QuickBooks hood, and integrated with the right add-on software, like LeanLaw, legal timekeeping happens effortlessly, and your invoices practically write themselves. The legal timekeeping and legal billing workflow is fluid and automated. What used to take days or weeks is now finished in minutes.

LeanLaw, an app in the QuickBooks app store, chose to focus exclusively on QuickBooks Online based on hundreds of hours of learning about pain points in law firms’ timekeeping and billing workflows. Intuit also offered an API architecture that allowed LeanLaw to develop a deep integration with QuickBooks Online so we can offer the most fluid workflow to the law firm.

Following are some of the myths and the solutions LeanLaw offers for QuickBooks Online users:


Myth #1

QuickBooks can’t do trust accounting for law firms.

Actually, it can, but it’s a daunting 12-step process.

Solution: LeanLaw created a behind-the-scenes, industry-approved legal workflow where you can resolve IOLTA trust accounting with one click. The legal trust accounting happens in QuickBooks Online, but your law firm can use simple, LeanLaw tools to see trust balances, pay invoices using trust funds and make client deposits to trust. Real-time, 2-way integration with QuickBooks rather than just a sync that somebody has to straighten out later.



Myth #2

QuickBooks timekeeping doesn’t work for attorneys.

QuickBooks Online timekeeping is not geared toward attorneys’ needs – especially if you want to track time on the go. If you want timers in QuickBooks Online, you have to buy a more expensive version. It’s not mobile and not built for your desktop.

Solution: LeanLaw timekeeping can be done on any platform and on the go – mobile / web / chrome / desktop app / tracker. And the timers are connected with invoicing and invoicing is connected to QuickBooks Online so that once you’ve entered your time, the entire process – timekeeping to invoicing to payment – is connected, automated and eliminates any redundant work. And you get paid faster.


Myth #3

QuickBooks can’t handle fixed fee or hybrid billing.

QuickBooks Online can do products & services fixed fees, but they don’t have all the instruments today’s law firms need such as milestone / recurring fixed fees.

Solution: LeanLaw has a more matter-centric approach: hourly/flat fee milestone / flat fee recurring / flat fee with hourly, and more. LeanLaw has refined client billing within QuickBooks Online.


Myth #4 

QuickBooks invoicing has no workflow.

There is an invoicing workflow in QuickBooks Online, it just isn’t customized for attorneys, so it’s cumbersome and requires a lot of manual workarounds. For example, QuickBooks Online can’t be set up so a principal attorney has to approve all of his or her invoices before they are sent.

Solution: LeanLaw has a workflow process that includes drafts, reviews and approvals. LeanLaw has an ability to track who made changes and the amount of the change. And our invoices are integrated with both the timekeeping software at the beginning of the workflow and QuickBooks Online for accounting at the end. That means a fully automated workflow once you’ve entered your time.


Myth #5 

You can’t get legal reporting out of QuickBooks Online.

In QuickBooks, you can see what has been billed, but you don’t see what is yet to be billed (work-in-progress) nor do you easily see by attorney revenue reports, by timekeeper reports, or by origination reports.

Solution: Real legal reporting can happen with LeanLaw. Easy access to compensation reports, work-in-progress, what you billed, what you collected in real time: By Attorney. By client, by Origination. You can get a rates report to understand what you’re charging each client. LeanLaw believes that these reports are one of your most crucial tools to understanding the profitability of the law firm.


Myth #6 

Tracking expense in QuickBooks doesn’t connect to client matters.

Expenses are tricky especially with trust accounting as it relates to contingency. QuickBooks has the ability to record expenses, but lacks the context relative to client matters.

Solution: Even better than working in QuickBooks alone, when you add on LeanLaw (with real-time 2-way sync), you are working with an interface that easily contextualizes the client matter with regard to expenses. Easily find out where you’re trending on expenses or work relative to a retainer or trust account through automated entry via a bank or credit card feed that mitigates manual entry. With LeanLaw, you no longer have the limitation of client matter context. Essentially you’re looking at one list and allocating those expenses that are internal and those that are reimbursable. LeanLaw then carries it over to QuickBooks so it can be invoiced.


Myth #7 

QuickBooks Online is not a platform I can rely on.

This is a very 2015 type of myth. Truth be told, Intuit is strongly encouraging users to move away from the desktop version of QuickBooks to QuickBooks Online. Ask yourself: where is the future of software? Online or available only on your desktop?

Solution: The software world, including LeanLaw, is making QuickBooks Online better by extending its functionality. They call it the QuickBooks App Store. This is a growing market that will only further benefit QuickBooks Online’s usability – without having to develop the customization yourself.

Additionally, there is an army of QuickBooks Online certified accountants who are dedicated to getting their clients onto QuickBooks Online for ease of use, optimization and organization. LeanLaw even has its own set of ProAdvisors — LeanLaw Accounting Pros — accounting professionals who specialize in law firm accounting for QuickBooks and LeanLaw. Your bookkeeper and accountant can become more than just people who balance your books and file your taxes. With LeanLaw as their tool, they can advise you on how to become a more profitable law firm.


LeanLaw is a technology company that helps solo lawyers and small law firms leverage technology to achieve Lean Practice, which we define as overhead of 20% of revenue or less. That may sound crazy to you, but we’ve seen it done in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Our mission is to help you have a lean law practice: efficient and cost effective. We believe in Justice for All. If lawyers have more productive workflows – especially legal timekeeping and billing –  they’ll have more time, money and ability to serve others. We believe lawyers are heroes – that’s you!

Join the LeanLaw Movement!

Gary Allen, Founder and Practicing Attorney

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