Administrators require special rights; usually there is only one administrator in a firm, as the administrator can add or delete user’s, change passwords, etc.
Every user needs a login name, code and password, together with settings that establish what the user can and cannot access (zones).
The login name is for display purposes, and can be the users full name.
The login code must contain alphanumeric characters with no spaces, and excluding special characters (including . and @). For example, andrew or spjohnson or even aj. The name must be unique.
The user logs in with a combination of login code, followed by a period or an @ sign, followed by the firm code. This combination comprises the username. For example, andrew.orangelegal or spjohnson@acmelaw.
It is important to enter the correct email address for each user. If a user SUNMITS A SUPPORT REQUEST, this is the email address that LawPracticeZA uses to communicate with the user.
The password generator creates a unique, strong password. Once the login has been saved, this is the password that is required by the user to login. The password is saved in encrypted format for security reasons.
Users can belong to different ‘Zones’ (Roles and Permissions). Everyone has General Access, whereas users can in addition belong to one or more of the following zones: -
- Fee Earners (lawyers and candidate attorneys) can see and access the Fee earner menu options, and are included in the list of Fee Earners available for selection when capturing fees (which will default to the logged in user, if a fee earner). The fee earners settings (hourly rate/s, target, etc.) are updated in the separate Fee Earners menu.
- Access any Matter gives the user access to any matter without requiring the matter owner to explicitly give access (in Matter Also give access to …) .
- Raise Invoice enables the user to generate an invoice for a selected Matters. If not selected, this option will be disabled for the user.
- Bookkeeper gives limited access to the bookkeeper menu options: more specifically, no access to the firms financial records.
- Senior Bookkeeper has full access to all Bookkeeper options.
- The Administrator has access to all administration functions, as explained in this section of the manual.
- Auditor rights give the ability to lift the freeze date (i.e. to post adjusting journals into a previous period). This lifting last for 1 hour, to prevent it inadvertently being left set, with potential problems arising. If an hour is insufficient, can be set for another hour.
- Payroll: can access the payroll menu, with all associated functionality.
A user can be disabled - prevented from accessing the system - by deleting the General zone. If this method is used, to reinstate the user, simply add back the General zone.
When ‘Fee Earner’ is selected from Roles and Permissions, the following additional information relating to the Fee Earner must be completed
- Fee earner name (which will appear on invoices under cost center).
- Monthly Fee Target (displayed in the Fees Recorded for … chart on the users Dashboard, and in the Target Report.
- Hourly rates to be used when calculating time-based fees. Each fee earner can have one or more hourly rates (e.g. Standard, High, SME rate, etc.), where the rate description is set in Fee level. A Fee level can be set on a Matter: all time-based fees captured against the matter will have the fee Earners fee level rate applied as the default.
LawPracticeZA calculates time-based fees on the number of minutes in 6-minute blocks (tenths of an hour) by default, based on the hourly rate selected. The 6-minute default is the national and international standard for lawyers (see FAQ) but can be changed in Firm details.
Provides a list off all existing Fee Earners, with the ability to update a fee earners details (click on three vertical dots for menu options).
A fee earner is created when creating a user’s login, and Zone ‘Fee Earner’ is selected.
Specific rates for both time-based and unitary fees can be added for fee earners, based on Fee levels.
A Fee Earner can be ‘Expired’. This removes the fee earner from the system but existing transactions remain. A replacement fee earner must be selected, who will become the owner of the expired fee earners Matters and any outstanding unbilled fees and/or disbursements. The Fee Earners login can simultaneously be disabled: typically when a Fee Earner leaves the firm. Expired Fee Earners can be viewed.
The fee levels are generally setup with the system, but can be expanded or modified here.
Time-based fee levels (Default unit: time) are typically Standard, High, Low, Subsidized (hourly rates).
Unitary fee levels (Default unit: qty) are typically A (single tariff e.g. High Court) or A, B, C and D (tariff scale - e.g. Magistrates Court).
The sequence determines the order in which they are presented for selection in the Matter Fee level drop-list.
Fee levels are used when capturing fees, to determine the appropriate rate or tariff to use.
The Fee Level selected on a Matter will determine the default setting when capturing fees for the Matter; i.e. whether Standard or High hourly rate for time-based fees or A, B, C or D for Unitary fees (including tariff items).
Contains firm details, such as address, logo and other contact details, typically used on Invoices and Statements. The more important fields explained below.
Once your firm details have been loaded, the easiest way to verify that they are correct is to produce a proforma invoice. The proforma does not update anything so can be run as may times as required.
- Company code: use your firms code (from login).
- Default department: normally left as Default
- Firm Name is the name that will appear on Invoices and Statements, so should be the official firm name.
- The postal address is required, so if only one address (e.g. a street address), enter here.
- The logo will also appear on invoices and statements: browse to select a png or jpeg image of your logo. You can adjust the positioning and size.
- Notify email address is used when emailing client’s invoices and statements automatically.
- Backup email is for saving a copy of the emails sent. It is recommended a separate email address is created for the backup email, as all invoices and statements sent are automatically stored in this email address. The backup email address can be left blank.
- The VAT flag (Not Registered, Odd months, Even months, Every month) determines VAT reporting. If Registered, the VAT Registration number must be entered.
- Cost Centre fields: the default is productcategory_name,salesagent_name, which will show the Fee Earners name or initials (depending how the fee earner name is set up) and whether a Fee or Disbursement in the Cost Centre column on the invoice.
- Cost Centre Label: enter the heading to appear as column header on invoices. The default is Cost Centre.
- ‘Invoice show minutes’ provides the option to show fractions of an hour for time based attendances, as opposed to the default, minutes (e.g. 0.2 rather than 8 minutes). Note that LawPracticeZA applies the standard for law firms; calculating time based on 6-minute (tenths of an hour), so 3 minutes and 6 minutes will both be 0.1, with a calculated charge of R150 for an hourly rate of R1,500. It is recommended that this is explained in a firms letter of engagement with their client’s, together with fee rates and other terms and conditions.
- Size of minutes block: although 6 is the default, and recommended, can be changed: e.g. to 1 or 15 minutes.
- Banking details will appear at the bottom of the invoice generated. Additional details can be entered following the Banking details (press Enter for a new line) such as payment terms, etc.
- QR code. QR code for bank detail verification if using a service such as SkyBolt, who would provide the QR code image that is loaded here, and which is then shown on the invoice, used to verify your bank details.
- SMTP settings. Use only if you wish to use your own SMTP server to send emails. Leave blank to allow our servers to send emails on your behalf.
- Hide Reversals. This sets the default, which can be toggled (Show Reversals) in LawPracticeZA. If set, when an entry is reversed (which creates a mirror-image of the original transactions/s), both the original and reversal are not shown when viewing an accounts transactions, and most importantly when accounting to the client (Statement of account).
- Notify on Receipt: Notify, by email, the owner of the matter when a receipt is captured.
- Show Zero Invoice Items as Addendum: If not selected, zero invoice items will appear amongst the other items in the invoice, in chronological order. If set, all items with a zero amount will be included as an addendum to the invoice, on a separate page (i.e. as notes).
This option allows you to change the next number in the sequence for automatically generated reference numbers for the various transaction types.
Set temporary freeze date¶
This option is only available to a user with ‘Auditor’ privileges.
When the final set of accounts is signed off by the auditor, often months after the financial year end, he or she will generally provide a number of journal adjustments to Balance Sheet accounts.
This option allows the temporary lifting of the ‘freeze date’ for an hour, i.e. to allow transactions to be posted into a previous financial period (which is normally not possible). If an hour proves insufficient, it can be reset. The reason for the 1 hour limitation is to prevent the freeze date from accidentally being left unset.
The current freeze date is displayed below the user name, opposite Hide / Show reversals.
Although the freeze date can be set to enable the capture of transactions into a previous financial period, this must be done with extreme caution. For example, if used to backdate an invoice or credit note to a previous period where VAT had already been submitted, this would render the VAT report invalid, with the VAT effectively excluded.
If the firm bills in foreign currency in addition to SA rands, the following procedure applies.
This menu option allows one or more currency to be added to LP. Select the currency from the list and click the left arrow. To remove a currency, click the selected currency and the right arrow.
Add a Fee level, for example ‘Billing in Euros’.
Fee Earner: add new Fee Pricing - select a fee level (e.g. Billing in Euros) and enter the Price (hourly rate) in the foreign currency, and select the currency (e.g. Euros).
For each client to bill in foreign currency
- On the Client, select the Currency and the Tax Type as Zero rated (Outside South Africa).
- On the Matter, select the Fee level (e.g. Billing in Euros).
When capturing fees for foreign currency a client
will default to the set currency with Fee Earners hourly rate in that currency. The proforma and invoice will be in the foreign currency.
When converting to LawPracticeZA from a previous system , existing data can be imported.
If using a computerized system prior to converting to LawPracticeZA, the data can usually be exported to a spreadsheet, where it can be rearranged in the format required by LawPracticeZA. Alternatively, the information required can be captured in a spreadsheet (template provided) or entered directly into LawPracticeZA.
The data can be imported in the following categories: -
- Clients and Matter, with the option to import Business, Trust and Investment balances.
- Suppliers, including Advocates and Sheriffs (for disbursements) as well as office suppliers.
- General Ledger accounts.
- WIP (unbilled fees and disbursements) can also be imported.
- Posting codes can be imported, typically if the posting codes provided by LawPracticeZA are inadequate. Note that it is also possible to add or modify posting codes at any time using the Posting Code module, and be aware of the Tariff Bundles.
Instructions are included with each import module. The spreadsheet must contain the precise headings as contained in the module, but only headings with an * are mandatory. Additional fields, not defined in the module, if they exist in the the legacy system as well as in LawPracticeZA (e.g. postal address or contact name), can be added and imported.
LawPracticeZA can also email firms a spreadsheet template of the formats required. Most commonly, clients complete the spreadsheet to the best of their ability and email the result back to LawPracticeZA, where we check (and invariably correct) the format, and import the data.
Import Clients with their associated Matters and balances or Matters for existing client’s. There is also an option to import balances for existing Matters (where the Matter code must be provided), typically use when the balances were not available when initially importing the Matters. When importing data from a legacy system, opening balances, and not historical transactions, are imported. The historical transactions from the previous system should be retained for reference.
If Matters for existing client/s, the client name (exact) or code must be entered for each Matter. Their is an option to list the client’s currently in the system, where you can cut and paste the name or code. If importing balances only, the Matter code is required.
For balances imported, the General Ledger account DEBTORSCONTROL is updated with the total of all balances in business, trust and investment, respectively.
The opposite entry is posted to the General Ledger account DEBTORSCONTROLSUSPENSE.
- For Business balances, a Journal entry (Business) can be posted to debit DEBTORSCONTROLSUSPENSE and credit the imported General Ledger Debtors Control account, as the LawPracticeZA system Debtors Control account is automatically updated (debited) with the import and the two balances should be the same.
- For trust balances, a Journal entry (Trust) can be posted to credit DEBTORSCONTROLSUSPENSE and debit the trust bank/s, as the sum of trust creditors should be reflected in the trust bank/s account/s.
- A Section 86(4) account will be automatically generated for each Investment. If there is more than one Investment bank, these must be configured by LawPracticeZA prior to the import.
The sum of supplier balances will credit the CREDITORSCONTROL account in the General Ledger, with the opposite entry debiting the CREDITORSCONTROLSUSPENSE account.
Once the General Ledger import has taken place (which must be from a balanced trial balance, and will therefore include Creditors), credit CREDITORSCONTROLSUSPENSE in the General Ledger (Journal entry) and debit the imported Creditors control account, as the sum of the creditor balances will now be in the LawPracticeZA system CREDITORSCONTROL.
General Ledger accounts¶
The spreadsheet to be imported must contained a trial balance of all General Ledger accounts as at the date of take-on; i.e. where the total debits equal credits.
If at the beginning of a financial year, the Income and Expense accounts will have zero balances, and the trial balance will include a retained profit or loss for the previous financial year.
If during a financial year, the income and expense accounts will include balances, with no current profit or loss, as this figure is calculated as the difference between income and expenses.
If Clients Matters with business balances and suppliers with balances are imported, the Accounts Receivable (Debtors) and Accounts Payable (Creditors) balances will be journalised against the DEBTORSCONTROLSUSPENSE and CREDITORSCONTROLSUSPENSE respectively, as detailed above.
You can also export the General Ledger to a spreadsheet, make changes and import it back in again.
Posting codes are used when capturing fees and disbursements, and can be individually added or modified in Masterfile Maintenance.
This option enables you to create a spreadsheet of your own posting codes for bulk import.
As with other imports, adhere strictly to the guidelines presented when you load the module.
For recording unbilled fees and/or disbursements in bulk, the details can be entered in a spreadsheet and imported by this module.
As with other imports, adhere strictly to the guidelines presented when you load the module.