How to Buy Billing and Accounting Software for a Mid-Size Law Firm - Part 3

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How to Migrate to the New Software – Get a Process in Place

In parts 1 & 2 of How to buy billing and accounting software for a mid-size law firm, we went over

  • who needs to be part of the decision in choosing new law firm software,
  • how to determine must-haves vs. nice-to-haves and
  • how to break down the choices of all the different law firm software options that there are in the world.

In Part 3, we will discuss how to migrate your mid size law firm to the new software as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Change is hard, but if you plan well and select appropriate assistance, you can get there without much disruption. Read on…

Step 3: Migrate and Onboard Successfully

Onboarding and Data Migration Is Critical

Just when you think you’ve found the best solution for you, in terms of features and functionality, you still have more work to do. The ultimate question: how do I migrate from my current law firm software to the new law firm software? Who is going to help me? How do I know they know how to do it?

We spoke to the law office administrator for a 35 lawyer firm and she told us that their migration to a new software went pretty smoothly – they were going from one boutique software to another. It took about three weeks of on-premise work from the new software company’s representatives. All for the low, low cost of $89,000. They still can’t get some of the reporting they were promised three years ago when the migration happened. And they pay about $28,000/year for the privilege. Still, the administrator is pretty happy with the software. She manually creates the reports that the software still can’t do. She either doesn’t realize that there are solutions to her issues out there or, the heavy lifting involved in getting them to a better solution than where they are is now known to be expensive, time sucking and an overall burden – why would she opt to do it again, a mere three years later?

At LeanLaw, we think this is outrageous.
Migration Considerations

  1. Who is going to manage the schedule for the migration? The law firm, the accounting professional or the software provider / outside party?
  2. If you’re relying on the software company, do they have all of the skill sets to do the migration? Who does? Also think about:
    • Have they migrated another law firm from the same legal software that you’re currently using?
    • Can they set up not only the app but also the customizations that your law firm will need?
    • Who is going to train the team on the new law firm software? Both at the high level and in the weeds of say, running a compensation report.
    • Who is going to determine that the accounting architecture is set up correctly? The software company or the accounting professional?
    • Who is going to export the data? Do they have the competency to do this?
    • What is the aggregate cost of migration? Is that inclusive of all accounting work that might need to be done? Will accounting work be separate?
    • Is there a clear process and workflow that the vendor can articulate on how to migrate?
    • Do you have the right team in place internally to deal with migration? Take into account skills, time and expenditure.
    • How will your law firm interact with the software vendor? This is some of your most highly confidential data – is communication secure?

Onboarding Phases

You should think of onboarding and data migration in three phases and 2 different components.

  • Setting up the billing application
    • Users
    • Roles
    • Matter ID
    • Minutiae of getting users trained
  • Data
    • Client matters
    • Accounting Data

Phase 1

Setup: I want to get the application setup, get the users to create their online roles and be able to time track and enter expenses.

Data: There won’t be much data in Phase 1 because you are just getting setup.

Phase 2

Setup: This includes the minutiae of managing the application: not just time tracking, but how you enter expenses, receive trust, payments, etc. This includes the narrow focus of how the law firm learns to use the application.

Data: This includes fine tuning the accounting side. Key note: Accounting data can always trail users because you won’t bill for 30 days.

Phase 3

Setup: More fine tuning – reports, feature requests, issues that fully institutionalize the app into the law firm.

Data: Going beyond what you did in your previous software with reporting automation and transparency. Get more sophisticated in how the data is collected, collated, and shared with the stakeholders.

Why LeanLaw + QuickBooks

LeanLaw, the premier legal app in the QuickBooks Online app store, customizes QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Advanced for mid-sized law firms.

In LeanLaw, you enter time once: anywhere, anytime and from any device. Time gets pushed automatically to billing, and then pushed to accounting in both LeanLaw and QuickBooks Online. When everything is connected, there is less manual work and more accurate data in real-time.

LeanLaw allows your users (attorneys, paralegals, support staff), to work in a billing app, and your accounting professionals to work in QuickBooks Online.

Our special sauce is our deep, two-way integration with QuickBooks Online: you don’t sync because you ARE in sync, always with QuickBooks Online as the source of truth. This real-time, accurate data allows you to better assess the financial health of your law practice. These reports are where LeanLaw outperforms our competitors.

QuickBooks Online Advanced – specifically for the mid-market law firm

  • More automation and efficiency with QuickBooks Advanced workflows.
  • Better law firm reporting with tools like Custom Form Fields
  • More server horsepower to accommodate larger data sets with mid-market firms.
  • More control over users with Custom User Roles – you only want a few people in QBO – everyone else can be in LeanLaw

Conclusion + Checklist

Now that you have a foundation by which to examine new law firm software, you have direction by which to determine what financial software will work for your law firm. Remember to do your due diligence. It’s hard work to integrate new financial software into a law firm. You don’t want to make a mistake and do it another time. Make sure you have all your questions answered.

We encourage you to create your own checklist or download LeanLaw’s checklist and modify it to your needs.

The LeanLaw checklist is soup to nuts: maybe more issues to consider than you were originally thinking about, but you can modify the checklist to suit your needs:

If you’re intrigued by LeanLaw’s approach to buying new software and want to know more about how LeanLaw addresses 21st Century law firm software, why don’t you schedule a demo and we can tell you more. You could also start a free trial to understand LeanLaw’s connection with QuickBooks.

Schedule and attend a demo, get a $250 Amazon Gift Card.