We have enjoyed our experience with BM+ and are still discovering new ways to look at the data. I've set up a group of customized reports that we run after the end of each month and with each passing month we refine them and now we're taking some of the data in the reports and plugging that into some Excel spreadsheets we've created to more graphically view the data.
We are still stumped by some unavoidable consequences of the fact that the legal business involves many billing arrangements for different types of cases. For example, anyone who has done much criminal work knows that you either get your money up front or you're likely to be very disappointed later on. We get the money! In Illinois we are able to take retainers that are non-refundable. We try to keep track of money brought in by each lawyer in the firm and retainers create problems. If we just deposit the money it goes into suspense until work is done and billed. The only problem with that is that the lawyer does not get "credit" for that money on the Receipt Allocation Report. In Family law matters, we can not take non-refundable retainers so the money needs to go into the Trust Account until it is earned. Again, we'd like to reflect that money on Allocation Reports if it's possible.
I'm wondering if anyone has any recommended procedures for handling Retainers in a way that would allow reports that would take those funds into account. I've thought of making a billing slip for the retainer and then running a bill which would put the money on the Receipt Allocation Report but that would not really work if the intent is to keep track of time and bill if the time exceeds the retainer (which is a normal occurrance). The retainer is really a "minimum" fee that's paid up front before the work is done. I know in some states attorneys can not take that approach but in Illinois we can.
My thanks again to all that created this forum and all who participate.
If this is a true retainer and you must keep it in a Trust Account until work has been performed, I don't see a way to have TM give you a report of fee allocation for trust account receipts.
If you can take the money up front and it goes into your Operating Account, you could use one of the flat fee type arrangements. A minimum flat fee arrangement would bill the minimum amount and show any work to date on the bill. You enter billing records on the case and when the billing records exceed the minimum amount already billed, the amount over the minimum is charged at your normal hourly rate.
There is also a 'Bill in Advance' arrangement which allows you to produce a bill with no billing records and then you work off the amount received. Enter your billing records and those will show on the bill and from that point on, it works like a minimum flat fee arrangement.
You usually have to tweak your bill layout somewhat to get these arrangements to show correctly on the bill.
always an interesting discussion/dilemma. I have read through your scenario and understand what you are saying. Here is my question back to you? How do you want the minimum fee to be treated? On a flat fee, I would assume that you want the program to allocate the fee according to the amount of time entered on the matter.Here is your typical scenario, I assume. Client pays $5000.00 in January. There is no work on the file in January. The trial is in this month, June and is 5 days long. Most of the prep work is in May and June. Do you want the $5000 to be allocated to the attorney in January? In July? Spread across the months? The problem that you face is that in January, you do not know how much time will be worked and when? In July, you know how much time was worked and when, but you have already created the reports for the previous months.Are you thinking that this money should be treated separately?Matt
Matt Stone, LLB Premier CIC - Forum Administrator 7SecondSystem.comThe 7 Second Blog
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