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Law Office Management

Law Office Management —Version 5 (LOM5) is a Windows program that runs on 64- and 32-bit operating systems, i.e., Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, ME, or 98SE. Of the 20 or so programs we recently upgraded in recent years, LOM5 profited the most.  Even though LOM was always a great program (one we've used ourselves everyday since 1994), its Borland Database Engine (BDE) foundation required more effort to learn and strict adherence to BDE "rules".

LOM5 is comprised of three applications - ClientBase5 (CBase5), BookBase5 (BBase5) and BillBase5 (BillB5). Each of these fills a specific function in the billing system. CBase5 is a name and address database that stores client names, addresses, telephone numbers and just about any other information you choose. BBase5 is a bookkeeping database designed to record law office receipts and disbursements, in particular, payments and expenses related to specific clients. BillB5 is the third and final partner that prepares the monthly billing by bringing it all together. Also included is a fully functioning calendar program, itemized statement spreadsheet, and stopwatch.

In overview, what LOM5 does:

  • Prints your personal billing letterhead or caption eliminating the need for pre-printed billing stationery;

  • Starts with a balance forward that is automatically transferred from the prior bill;

  • Looks up the client’s name in CBase5 and addresses the bill perfectly positioned for window-style envelopes;

  • Adds specified charges from BBase5 dated since the last bill, i.e., filing fees, deposition costs, records acquisition expenses, etc.;

  • Credits any client payments (also from BBase5) made since the last bill (or any date you choose);

  • Includes up to ten optional fill-in fields for special entries such as initial retainer charges, client discounts or whatever you choose;

  • For clients on hourly fee agreements, BillB5 integrates any itemized billing statements you attach, i.e., tallies and prints the itemized statement as a separate attachment;

  • Calculates the present balance due;

  • Automatically creates a new billing file for next month with updated balance forward etc., and

  • Sends a bill or bills to your word processor for final review, editing and printing.

If you’d like to see what a simple printed bill looks like, click here.

If you’d like to see what a bill with an attached itemized statement looks like, click here.

That's a summary of how Law Office Management works. Below is additional information about each program component.

ClientBase5 (CBase5)

CBase5 is the gateway to the Law Office Management system. Its purpose is maintaining names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and notes. Although there are many name and address programs available for Windows, what makes CBase5 special is that it is designed to coordinate with BBase5 and BillB5.

Summary of Features

Twin Windows. CBase5 displays your clients in two different ways - the List View and the Table View. The List View is an arrangement of client names allowing hundreds to fit on the screen at the same time. If you have a list that contains 1,000 names or less, the List View, when maximized, can put about 600 names on the screen at one time making any name just a click or two away. Name and address programs work best when information is easily and quickly accessible. CBase5, excels here with its Fast Find function; double-clicking yields complete, detailed information about a client.

To see a maximized List View, click here.

The other view provided by CBase5 is the Table View. It presents names and addresses in a spreadsheet format. While you can’t see nearly as many names simultaneously, the advantages are you see more than just the name, and the screen refreshes more quickly which can be important for lists with over 1,000 names. We have about 7,000!

To see a maximized Table View, click here.

You may find the tiled view preferable. CBase5 presents both the List & Table Views so you can enjoy the benefits of both simultaneously.

To see the combined List View/Table View screen, click here.

Sorting. The Table View acts like Microsoft’s Windows Explorer allowing you to alphabetize your client list on any field by simply clicking on the column header. Looking for all your clients living in a particular city? Just click on the City column and all your clients will be arranged according to their city of residence. Click on any column twice and your clients will sort in reverse order. Instantly. For manipulating and studying the demographics of your client list, this quick, flexible sorting method can’t be beat.

Hiding Columns. Another nifty feature of the Table View is its ability to hide columns. Too much information? Screen too busy? Any of the sixteen client record fields can be hidden in order to distill the client list information into a more digestible view that's appropriate for your viewing requirements, and monitor size and resolution. CBase5 memorizes your preferences.

Copy/Paste. There’s a special copy/paste feature in CBase5 that permits you to click on any name and then paste it into any other Windows program. What’s so special about that? Well, the name and address are "postal-formatted" in the Windows clipboard, so you could easily them into a letter – perfectly formatted. We do this to our satisfaction with stamps.com. This function works well with law office word processors such as Word for Windows or WordPerfect. This method is not only quick, but it eliminates errors that can occur when you retype names and addresses in letters or on envelopes.

Features at Your Fingertips. Some programs have nifty features that you must labor to find or use. CBase5 isn’t shy. It flaunts its feature set by making all functions immediately available either via right-click, pop-up menus, or through the speed bar that provides one-click execution for sorting, searching, etc.

BBase5 & BillB5 Compatibility. As we mentioned, CBase5 is not just an excellent name and address program, it integrates with Law Office Management’s bookkeeping and billing modules to form a complete office billing system.

Click & Run. You won’t be wasting much time on the learning curve when it comes to CBase5. As soon as you understand that each client you enter must be assigned a client number and that no two clients can have the same number, you’ve learned everything you need to know.

Labels. Send any substantial client mailings lately? CBase5 can print client addresses on standard laser sheet address labels (Avery No. 5160) or continuous feed dot matrix address labels (Avery No. 4013). Finally, if you like to keep a client list in your briefcase, CBase5 can print a client “telephone book.” It looks like a page from a telephone book, and it lists all your clients and their telephone numbers. You can fit hundreds of clients on just a few sheets of paper making it very mobile.

Fast Find. We mentioned that you can sort your clients in a variety of different ways, but there’s also a Fast Find feature that locates a client’s record by simply hitting <CTRL><F> and typing a few unique characters from any of the client’s sixteen fields. No hoops to jump through, just instant access.

BookBase5 (BBase5)

BBase5 is the second component of Law Office Management. Its purpose is to log all financial transactions related to your law practice including those that are unrelated to a specific client. What sets BBase5 apart for standard bookkeeping programs is that it is designed to coordinate with CBase5 and BillB5 so that a client's personal and financial information can be incorporated into a client’s bill by BillB5.

Summary of Features

No Complexity. Two windows – the Income Window for income and receipts; the Expense Window for expenses and disbursements. That’s it. From these two windows you can derive a vast amount of information as we’re about to explain.

To see a sample of both windows in a tiled view, click here.

Sorting. Both the Income and Expense Window can be minimized or maximized, and both act like Microsoft’s Windows Explorer allowing you to alphabetize your income or expense transactions on any field just by clicking on the column header. Looking for a particular check number? Just click on the Check No. column of the Expense Window and you’ll find it in a flash. Click on any column twice and the list will sort in reverse order on the field or column on which you clicked. Maybe you’d like to do a quick sort to segregate your expense categories or to see which area of your law practice generates the most money. You can do it all in a click.

Intelliguessing. BBase5 has incremental searching that speeds up data entry considerably. Instead of waiting for you to press <TAB> and helping with upcoming fields, BBase5 is making instantaneous incremental suggestions with every keystroke. This may be one of the biggest BBase5 time savers. When it comes to dates and check numbers, BBase5 doesn’t even wait for you to start typing; these fields are filled as soon as you request a new record.

Filters. These are one of BBase5’s most powerful tools. How much money did you make in calendar year 2010 in the area of family law? Placing a filter on the Income Window will tell you. What were your gasoline expenses last month? Filters provide the answer.

To see how you place a filter to determine how much a particular client paid in 2010, click here.

Reporting. Filters are the entry point to BBase5’s exporting function. By placing a filter and then exporting the filtered data to a tab-delimited ASCII text file, you can open these files in any spreadsheet program, i.e., Excel, and prepare spectacular, balancing checking accounts, and informative reports. Pie charts, line graphs, you have more power here than you’ll ever need and use. All you need is a modest amount of spreadsheet savvy.

Click here to see a sample report of monthly expense subtotaled according to Category.

Check Printing. BBase5 can print your checks if you have your check blanks in the standard printer configuration of one check per sheet with the check in the middle position. Of course this saves a significant amount of time, because you're doing your bookkeeping entry and check printing in one step not two!

Customizable. BBase5 comes ready with income and expense categories that are tailored to a law practice. Income categories range from Administrative Law to Workers Compensation. You can also create income or expense categories that are peculiar to your practice.

BillBase5 (BillB5)

BillB5 completes Puritas Springs Software's Law Office Management in the form of a billing module that integrates the name and address information from CBase5 and bookkeeping information from BBase5 to form an complete and automated billing system. From now on, the monthly billing will take only seconds. BillB5 also includes an itemized statement function that lets you prepare and add itemized statements to your monthly billing statements. In addition, it includes a greatly improved calendar function that produces daily, weekly or monthly printouts and it's entries can be imported by the Itemized Statement function.

To see a sample billing file, click here. This is the view from which you do much of your work, like adding bills, attaching itemized statements, making financial entries that don't go into BBase5, and adding client messages.

Click here to see a sample flat fee bill.

Click here to see a sample itemized statement bill.

Below are some other handy BillB5 functions.

Summary of Features

Client Histories. Sometimes a client with a prolonged case questions his or her bill and you need more than just a copy of their latest monthly bill. BillB5 can produce billing histories in a flash. By changing one field in the billing record (the date of the last bill), you can present a client with a comprehensive history showing each and every charge and credit to their account as well as an itemized statement of services rendered over whatever period of time you choose.

Autopilot Billing. Once you set up your monthly billing, BillB5 creates next month’s billing file automatically as you generate this month’s billing statements. That means your work load decreases dramatically after you do your first month's set of bills. After that you need only add new bills to the monthly file. BillB5 handles everything else such as updating last month’s bill and deleting bills from the current monthly set of clients that are paid in full. It’s no exaggeration to say that if you do a couple minutes of data entry every day, preparation of a new set of bills at the beginning of the month takes only seconds!

Printing/Previewing. You can print your entire monthly or periodic set of bills at one time or you can print a single bill. It's all done through your word processor which makes it familiar territory for you to perform review, editing, formatting and printing tasks.

Itemized Statements. Not all clients are on a flat-fee. For those clients being billed on an hourly basis, there’s an integrated itemized statement program within BillB5. You can make your entries in any order and the itemized statement will arrange them chronologically automatically. These itemized statements can be printed and attached to a client’s regular monthly billing statement. The Itemized Statement worksheet has the ability to import calendar entries for those that have client numbers and time durations recorded. Although BillB5 generates complete, accurate and perfectly formatted bills on its own, it doesn't hurt to be able to do your final review, editing, formatting and printing in your own word processor.

Calendar/Alarms. BillB5 has a greatly enhanced calendar. Not only can it keep track of your appearance schedule, i.e., court appearances, office appointments, meetings, etc., you can also assign any calendar item a client number and time duration so that the itemized statement function can import these items into the itemized statement. As mentioned above, you can print daily, weekly or monthly calendar views.

To see the new calendar window, click here.

Personalized Billing. As you review a bill for printing, you can easily personalize the bill with brief memos reminding your clients about upcoming case events (“Please recall that your deposition is scheduled for July 4, 2011 in the law office of Leland Summerville at 10:00am.”), payment reminders (“We did not receive payment from you last month and ask that you contact our office at the earliest convenience to discuss your outstanding balance.”), or simple courtesies (“Please accept our sincere thanks for your payment of July 3, 2011.”). The sample bills that are linked above have examples of such reminders.

Interest. Some clients may be tardy in the payment of their bills. A proven incentive to timely payment is the addition of interest or late fees on unpaid bills. This is easily accomplished in BillB5 by checking the Interest box on the billing record and inserting a rate of interest. Late fees can be added manually using the Description/Amount fields of which there are ten.

Click here to see a sample billing record with interest and late fees. It's the third bill in the list - Donna Marie Haeni. Note that the interest box is checked and 8% is inserted as the rate of interest to be charged.

Consumer-Friendly Pricing ($129)

How much would you expect to pay for a specialized law office management program with this much power? Well, one of the leading law office billing packages (single user version) is $599. If you’re going to network be prepared to pay dearly. The up-to-five-user version is $899. Note that technical support is free for only 30 days making it a near-useless extra because that hardly covers one billing cycle. After that support is about $250 per year for single users and $350 for multi-users. After paying that, what do you get? A program that is extremely hard to learn and maintain, so you may as well count on paying these additional charges.

If you take a look at user ratings on Amazon for some of the leading law office software, you may be surprised (or not) at the low rating. Average one and a half stars out of five! Here are typical user issues:

I bought Xxxxxxxxx for my law firm billing. I regret that very much. It is very difficult and time consuming to use. There is lack of customer service available or they charge you more than the software to help you with issues. I had to pay a Xxxxxxxxx specialist $160 an hour to help me with questions that I have. In this day of technology, a time entry software should not be so difficult and time consuming to use. I have paid so much time in time training much more than I paid for the software itself. At this time, I am looking for a new software to use.

Our Guarantee

We're so sure you'll find LOM5 quick to learn and easy to use for doing the monthly billing that we not only provide free technical support, but we'll give you free remote assistance instruction*. Nobody does that! We're that sure you'll love it.

Network Version - $295

What's so special about networks? Two things. First, name and address, bookkeeping, billing and calendar data is centrally located. Did you ever change a client's address and then have to run from computer to computer making sure everyone had the change? Not so with Law Office Management. Centrally located files are used by everyone in the office, so that when a change is made by one user, everyone else can see it. A second benefit is that its centrally located files make it easy to backup all your data files because everything is on one computer.

If you’re read this article and have additional questions, please feel free to give us a call. If you haven’t clicked on the sample documents we’ve provided, take the time to do so. A picture’s worth a thousand words and may answer some of your questions.

  • *The offer of free remote assistance is not unlimited. Call us if you require additional details.



 
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