Computerized Accounting Software Systems

While all good accounting systems follow the basic structure described in this accounting module, some systems use different terminology to name records.

Generic business accounting packages cannot deal with lawyers’ trust accounting functions or easily accommodate trust ledgers but there are many integrated systems available, which address the needs

of the legal market. These packages take the idea of a general accounting and financial statement package and apply them to the specific needs of law firms. As well as offering all the features of the general accounting systems, they can (and usually do) incorporate conflict checking, calendaring (bring forward systems) and management reports specific to lawyers and law offices.

The cost of these packages varies. Many, particularly those that are cloud-based, are subscription-based, with monthly fees depending on the number of users.

Do not purchase software for trust accounting without first consulting the Law Society. If you are looking at software, the Law Society currently approves the following programs for trust accounting:

  • – PCLaw
  • – ESILaw
  • – Legal Vision
  • – Thomson Elite – Prolaw
  • – Brief Legal Software
  • – Acumin
  • – CosmoLex

See websites such as Capterra or Lawyerist, for comparisons and reviews of various accounting and practice management software.

Ideally your system should also handle all necessary deductions and filings, including income tax, GST, PST, CPP, E.I., and WCB.

 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Integrated Computer-Based Systems

Benefits:

  • – Full computerized accounting system
  • – Varying levels of tools and/or integration with legal systems (conflict checking, calendaring, bring-forward systems) ranging up to full accounting and case management systems
  • – Integrated time and billing
  • – Automated report generation
  • – Some provide ability to integrate multiple offices
  • – Some are cloud-based, allowing authorized employees to access from outside of the office

Drawbacks:

  • – Can be expensive
  • – Training in the systems is required
  • – Usually require a trained or experienced bookkeeper or accounting department
  • – May require dedicated staff to manage and run the system