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Financial-management systems: Do you really know what is going on?

Accounts and practice-management software are frequently regarded as one of those dull but worthy aspects of legal technology that all firms must have, but involves aspects of the business that only cashiers and bookkeepers buried in the bowels of the practice ever use or worry about.

13 April 2004

Possibly that was true, once upon a time, back in the days when accounts systems were primarily concerned with correctly adding up columns of figures and ensuring there were no improper transfers between client and office accounts – but we have come a long way since. In particular, it is now dawning upon a growing number of firms, well at least the thriving ones, that running a successful law firm today owes more to business skills – and an understanding of financial management is one of those skills – than legal expertise.

In far too many firms, the practice management system is merely seen as something to keep the accounts records in good order. Partners and managers are meanwhile in the dark as to which areas of their practice are profitable and which are running at a loss, which fee earners are pulling their weight and who are the slackers, or even who are their ‘best’ clients, in terms of those that pay in full and on time for work that is profitable...

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