Fee Earner User Guide

The Dashboard (when you login)

When you login, the dashboard provides a convenient method to quickly access your most common and important functions and information.

https://lawpracticeza.com/

Pie chart (diarised matters)

The Pie Chart represents all Matters, grouped by due, overdue or due sometime in the future. Click on the appropriate segment to load a list of Matters. From the list, you can select a Matter by clicking on its name.

Fees recorded

Fees recorded show all the fees captured for the current and previous month (whether invoiced or not), by day in a graph, against your target (if set).

Held in Trust

Held in Trust shows the sum of trust balances for all your matters. If you select ‘Include Others Matters’, their trust balances will also be included. Click to produces a client aged analysis. The relevance of providing this information is that monies in trust can have a significant impact on cash flow (i.e. where you may be in a position to invoice a client, with available trust monies on the matter becoming available for transfer).

Unsent Invoices

Invoices that have been produced but not emailed automatically, or marked as having been sent.

Note

Some users of LawPracticeZA elect not to send invoices (which is why there are options to invoice without sending) as a Statement emailed to a client, often at month-end, includes a link to each invoice, whereby the client can click on the invoice number in the statement to view the invoice online, with the option to download in PDF format. The same applies to receipts.

Draft Invoice items

Draft Invoice items produces a summary of all your Matters that contain one or more unbilled fee and/or pending disbursement (WIP), with options to email proforma invoices and/or process and email invoices to all or selected matters displayed.

Click on a individual Matter to load the Matter, or select Matter/s (and scroll down) to email.

Clear sample data

If your database still contains sample data from Getting Started, there is an option to clear this sample data. Once cleared, the option disappears.

Clients to receive statements

Clients to receive Statements displays clients who have been marked to receive a statement, but a statement has not been emailed to them during the past month.

Useful resources

Useful Resources provides links to this manual (on-line version) and our Referral Rewards. On most browsers you will need to scroll down to display these options.

Fee Earner menu options

Click on the menu item on the left to load one of the following.

Calendar

By default the calendar will show all your Matters diarised for the current month, in the monthly view.

Each Matter is displayed in a coloured box; rest the mouse cursor on the calendar note and the full details are displayed.

You can drag any Matter to a different date.

You can also mark an entry as complete by clicking the tick-sign (it becomes a double-tick); click again to reactivate the diary entry for the Matter.

To select a Matter, click in the body of the coloured box and the Matter is loaded.

https://lawpracticeza.com/matter/calendar

Time Sheet

The time sheet reflects all fees captured during the day.

Time-based entries are displayed in the daily calendar at the appropriate time. For example, if you captured a fee at 14h00 with a duration of 90 minutes, the entry will fill the slot 14h00 to 15h30.

Unitary fees (i.e. not time-based) are displayed at the top of the page.

https://lawpracticeza.com/salesagent/timesheet

Quick Capture Fees

Fees are normally captured by selecting the Matter, and capturing the fee.

This option has been provided to capture fees without first loading the Matter; you add a fee and complete the fields - filter and select the Matter, the posting code and complete the narration. If a time-based posting code

  1. The start time is the current time,
  2. The end time is calculated when the number of minutes is entered.

Click OK (tick) and the entry is recorded against the Matter (and as an unbilled entry can be modified or deleted). To cancel the entry, click the trash can.

https://lawpracticeza.com/salesagent/quickfees

Percentage fees (e.g. Postage and Petties)

Raise a fee per matter based on a percentage of fees and disbursements invoiced and/or captured during a specified period (typically a month) for selected departments. There is an option to cap the fee.

Note

As this function generates fees in bulk, it is important to check the details very carefully before accepting.

Prior to first using the function, it is necessary to create an appropriate posting code. For example, a Fee or Disbursement code could be created with a description of “Postage and Petties based on 10% of fees and disbursements for the period to a maximum of R400”.

The fields to be completed are

  1. From and To dates: the date range for the inclusion of invoices and/or fees captured. For example, if for the month of September 2018, 2018-09-01 to 2018-09-30. If producing Statements on the 25th of every month, would be 2018-08-26 to 2018-09-25.
  2. Generate From: Billed (Invoiced) and unbilled Fees, only Unbilled Fees or only invoices.
  3. Percentage: This is the percentage to apply to the select Matter amounts. For example, if 10, and the amount is R4 560.12, if capped at R400.00 will generate an unbilled fee of R400. If not capped (or a higher cap), will generate a fee of R456.01.
  4. Max Amount: This is the amount to cap the fee at. See example above.
  5. Posting code: Start typing the required posting code description (e.g. post) and select the code.
  6. Narration: The default narration is the posting code description, but can be changed. For example, for the above example, you may change the narration to “Postages and Petties for the month of September 2018”. The narration will appear on the proforma invoice and invoice.
  7. Department: To select Matters within a Department, tick the Department check box. The sum of all unbilled and/or invoiced amounts will be displayed opposite each matter, with the unbilled fee or disbursement (depending on the posting code) amount to be raised. Before clicking RAISE AS UNBILLED FEES ensure that you are satisified that these are the fee that you wish LawPracticeZA to automatically raise, based on the options selected.
  8. RAISE AS UNBILLED FEES: When you click this, LawPracticeZA will automatically raise an unbilled fee for each Matter as indicated, based on the options selected. Depending on the number of fees to be raise, this can take a few minutes, so wait until complete.

Recurring Billing

This function is used where a regular, recurring fee is to be raised against one or more Matters, and consists of two components: -

  1. Schedules, where the timing of the fee generation is defined, and
  2. Subscriptions, where the Matter to raise the fee against is selected, as well as details of the fee.

Schedules

You can create a number of schedules, which determine when the associated subscriptions run. The run time is 4h00 (4 in the morning) on the designated day.

For example, if on the is selected with 25 th day and a month or months checked, on the morning of the 25th on the selected month at 4h00 the Matters selected in Subscriptions will have the designated fees automatically raised.

Subscriptions

After creating a Schedule (you can have a number of different schedules) you add subscriptions. A subscription is a Matter with a designated fee. Complete the following

  1. Schedule: select from the list of schedules that you have created (see above).
  2. Item: This is the narration you want to appear for the unbilled fee.
  3. Client: Type part of the clients name and select the client. The clients Matters will be available for selection in the list below.
  4. Matter: select the clients Matter.
  5. Fee: Type part of the fee description and select the posting code. The code could be something like “Monthly retainer for legal services”.
  6. Quantity. If a fixed amount 1, but could be number of hours, for example, with unit price the hourly rate.
  7. Currency: Typically South African Rands
  8. Tax Type: e.g. Not Registered or SG_15 if registered and 15% VAT to be added.
  9. Unit Price: the fee to be raised (multiplied by the Quantity above).
  10. Total ex VAT: calculated.
  11. VAT. The calculated VAT amount, if VAT is applicable.
  12. Total including VAT: The fee total amount.
  13. Activation date. This is the first date for the automatic recurring billing to take place.
  14. Fee earner. Select the fee earner to assign the fees when invoiced.
  15. Expiry Date. Forever is the default; i.e. until you cancel the subscription. Alternatively, you can assign a date where after the generation of fees will cease.

Note

Click OK to Save but check the details carefully as this is a bulk posting function, which will happen automatically at 4h00 on the designated date, based on the selections that you have made above.

Also note that you can ‘Trigger now’ from the Schedules option.

Matter Receipts

The option is provided for both Fee earners and Bookkeepers, and is used to record monies received from clients, whether trust or business.

See details in the Bookkeeper User Guide.

https://lawpracticeza.com/customerpayment/capture

Tariff bundles

LawPracticZA provides a number of tariff bundles, for example, Magistrates Court Tariffs - Defended, High Court Tariffs and Legal Wise Labour matters, to name a few.

New bundles may periodically be added.

This option enables you to add a set of tariffs to your system.

Importantly, the bundle name corresponds to the Department on the Matter. Once a bundle has been added, the bundle name will appear in the Department drop-list on the Matter. Selecting a department in the Matter will make the tariff items in the bundle available when capturing fees to the Matter.

Note

When you import a tariff bundle, the Posting code VAT settings are based on your VAT setting in ‘Firm Details’ at the time of the import.

https://lawpracticeza.com/product/importbundles

Documentation Automation

Consists of two parts: templates and documents. Templates contain the document content with variables (e.g. clients name and matter description, fee earners and their hourly rates). Document are the result of templates merged with the selected matters variables.

A typical use of Documentation Automation is to generate a Cost Estimates for every new Matter opened (instruction from a clients) as per the new LPA requirement. A typical template name might be “Terms of Engagement and Cost Estimate” or “Cost Estimate ito LPA sec 35 Divorce Action”.

Note

Once a document has been generated for a Matter (from a Template), apart from being accessible here, the document can be accessed directly from the associated Matter.

Templates

You can add a new template, or update an existing template (click on the Template name or Update on the menu).

Existing Template have the following menu options (three verticle dots)

  1. Detail: full details of the template, including content and variables. Also includes other menu options; Update, delete, plot or generate.
  2. Update: Change the content of an existing template.
  3. Plot: provides a time-line of when the template has been updated, and by whom.
  4. Generate: this will merge the template with the selected Matters variables and create a document, which when saved is attached to the Matter, and can be opened as a pdf document or in the browser for printing.

Note

The document will now be available directly from the Matter. More commonly, the document will be generated and accessed directly from the Matter.

The template consists of the following components: -

  1. A template name. Make it descriptive, so it is easy to identify.
  2. Generate for a Matter or Supplier. Document Automation is a work in progress, so additional options may be added in future.
  3. Department, if the template applies to a particular department only. Else leave blank.
  4. There is an option to import an existing document as a basis for the template. Browse for the document you wish to import, and the content of the document will be loaded into the template, which you can then change. Alternatively, you can start with a blank template.
  5. A template can include text and variables. A list of available variables can be found under Available Template tags, contained in twin curly brackets ({{variable}}. Variables can also be created by definition in the ini file, and can included calculated fields. Variables with multiple items (e.g. Fee Earners) can be included (see Terms of Engagement and Cost Estimate example).
  6. Documents are generated from a template by selecting Generate from the menu (three vertical dots next to each Template).

Documents

Displays a list of all generated documents, with the option to filter the list.

The menu (three vertical dots) provides a number of options: -

  1. Update the document. You can make changes to, and save the changes, proir to downloading the document.
  2. Download the document. The default is in PDF format, which can be printed or attached to the Matter. The printed document can be signed, scanned and attached to the Matter.

Adding a new client

The most common method for adding a client is by clicking the icon in the LawPracticeZA header. Clients can also be added by the Bookkeeper.

Every Matter is linked to a client, so a new client must be added before a new Matter for the client can be added. There can be multiple Matters linked to the same client.

Mandatory fields are marked with an *. Important fields are: -

  1. Client: the official name of the client. The clients name is shown on Invoices and Statements, so must be the full name.
  2. Customer code: automatically generated by LawPracticeZA, derived from the Client name. Matter codes for linked Matters are the Customer code + a suffix. For example, for customer code ABC, the Matter code for the first attached Matter will be ABC-001, the second ABC-002, etc.
  3. Department: can be Default or select an appropriate department from the list. The Department selected is the default department for all linked Matters, and can be overwritten on the Matter. The department can also be used in conjunction with Tariff bundles to assign sets of tariffs to a Matter (e.g. High Court tariffs).
  4. Accounts email, also the default for all linked Matters, is the email address used for automatically emailing Invoices and Statements to clients.
  5. Postal address: used on invoices and Statements to clients.
  6. Tax number: this is the clients VAT registration number, and if present, will print on the Tax Invoice generated by LawPracticeZA that you send to your client.
  7. Effective and Expiry dates. By default selected (forever). Do not change.
  8. Tax Type: Only used if the default tax is not applicable to this client; for example, an overseas client where VAT is not applicable. Only applies in exceptional circumstances, and is usually left blank.

After completing all fields click OK to save the Client details.

Note

If any mandatory fields (*) have not be completed, the record will not be saved, and the field/s with missing data will be marked in red. Complete and click OK again to save.

FICA

When you add or update a client, a ‘traffic light’ icon indicates the FICA status of the client. Grey indicates nothing yet done, amber partially processed and green FICA’ed.

If you click on the traffic light icon, you are presented with the following options: -

  1. Select the type of entity, as this determines what information and documents are required.
  2. A unique URL will be generated. Click on the copy icon, open an email to the client and copy this link into the body of the email. When the client clicks on the link, they will be prompted for the appropriate data and to attach copies of the appropriate documents.
  3. When the client submits this information, it will appear as an issue (top right corner). Click to display the issue: the data completed by the client, as well as all attached documents.
  4. When accessing a Matter, the client heading will show the FICA status. Click on the icon to update the status.

https://lawpracticeza.com/customer/insert

Adding a new Matter

The most common method for adding a Matter is by clicking the icon in the LawPracticeZA header. Matters can also be added by the Bookkeeper.

Every Matter is linked to a client, so a new client must be added before a new Matter for the client can be added. There can be multiple Matters linked to the same client.

Mandatory fields are marked with an *. Important fields are: -

  1. Client: start typing any part of the clients name, and select the client from the list.
  2. Matter description: enter a meaningful description. The description will be shown on the invoice to the client, so should include information that the client might need such as a policy number, company registration number or erf number. A comprehensive description also makes it easier to find the matter you are looking for, as in the search you can enter any part of the client name or matter description.
  3. Matter code: automatically generated by LawPracticeZA. Matter codes are the Customer code + a suffix. For example, for customer code ABC, the Matter code for the first attached Matter will be ABC-001, the second ABC-002, etc.
  4. Owner: The Fee Earner responsible for this Matter. By default the person logged in, but can be selected from the drop-list (for example, if the Matter is opened by the secretary on behalf of the Fee Earner).
  5. Also give access to: select other Fee earners who should have access to this Matter. Note that some Fee Earners may be given access to all Matters. In this instance, not necessary to give individual access per Matter.
  6. By default, the Matter is diarised for the current date. If a new diary date is not set, the Matter will become overdue (until a new diary date is set).
  7. Department: defaults to the Client department, but can be overwritten on the Matter. The department can be used in conjunction with Tariff bundles to assign sets of tariffs to a Matter (e.g. High Court tariffs).
  8. Reserve trust: this will reduce the amount of trust available for automatic trust transfer.
  9. Accounts email: the default is the Client Accounts email, but can be changed on the Matter. The email address used for automatically emailing Invoices and Statements to clients.
  10. Fee level: the default used when Capturing fees. If time-based (Standard, High, etc.), will default to Time and the Fee Earners hourly rate is applicable; if A, will default to Unitary. B, C and D also default to unitary and are used to indicate the scale, where applicable (e.g. Magistrates Court and some company tariff structures, such as Legal Wise).
  11. Dead file number. If a Matter is to be archived, the dead file number can be entered here.

After completing all fields click OK to save the Matter details.

Note

If any mandatory fields (*) have not be completed, the record will not be saved, and the field/s with missing data will be marked in red. Complete and click OK again to save.

Finding a Matter / searching for a Matter

There are several methods for finding a Matter, the most common being the magnifying-glass icon in the LawPracticeZA header. This can be activated by clicking on or tapping the magnifying glass, or pressing the / key.

Type part of the client name or matters description (or matter code) and a list of matters is displayed with matches or near matches, the most likely candidate at the top of the list. If you imported matters from your legacy system and included your legacy file number, this can also be used in the search.

Select the Matter you are looking for. The selected Matter has the following sections: -

Client and Matter details

Whenever a Matter is selected, details of the client and matter are display, with a number of options available. The sections displayed are

  1. Client and matter details, including contact details, department, Fee Earner and Associated matters, diary entries and Document Automation options.
  2. Fees Capture options.
  3. Transactions, including options to Invoice, add and view attachments, etc.

Diarise a Matter

Matter can include multiple diary entries; a matter can be assign to self or another.

On a diary date, the Matter will appear as due in the assignee’s diary (Pie Chart Due). It will also appear as due in the Assignor’s diary.

When a diary entry is made, it must contain a note, which is displayed together with the diary entry.

For example, a lawyer could assign a diary entry to his or her secretary for Wednesday to collate documents for a court appearance on Friday, and a diary entry for self for the court appearance on Friday.

There are various places where a diary entry is highlighted and shown

  1. The Pie Chart on the Dashboard shows number of Matters diarised for ‘today’ as Due (Matters that are not dealt with on time show as Overdue, Matters still to be dealt with as Future due). Once a Matter’s diary entry has been dealt with, the diary entry is deleted or ticked as complete.
  2. In the Calendar, diarised Matters are shown as coloured blocks, with the Matter name and diary note (e.g. Jane, please collate documents for Fridays court case A vs B).

Associated matters

Associate Matters: for example, if you have a buyer and seller in a property transactions, by associating them, you can ‘flip’ between them, having selected one or the other.

Document Automation (including Cost Estimates)

There are options to accesses documents previously generated for this Matter, as well as generate new documents. Generated documents can be selected and retrieved in pdf or editable format.

See Document Automation on the Fee Earner menu for more details.

Capture a fee or disbursement against a Matter

After selecting a Matter, scroll down to Fee Capture (or press Enter) to record an unbilled fee or pending disbursement against a Matter.

If the Fee Level on the Matter has a time-based setting (e.g. Standard or High) the time-based posting codes will be available for selection. If the Fee level on the Matter is set to A (or B, C or D), the unitary setting will be the default, with the unitary set of posting codes available for selection under activity.

To capture a disbursement (e.g. an Advocates account) select Disbursement, and the disbursement posting codes will be presented for selection. There is some debate as to whether a firm that is registered for VAT should charge VAT on a disbursement, where the supplier (e.g. an Advocate) is not registered. LawPracticeZA can accommodate this by having two posting codes; one with VAT set to VAT Sales Goods, the other set to Not Registered.

Note

When capturing the suppliers invoice for a disbursement (the ‘purchase’ leg of the entry), there is an option to capture the disbursement against the Client’s Matter (the ‘sale’ leg of the disbursement). The latter is the equivalent of capturing the disbursement as described above.

The selected Activity code becomes the narration default, which can be changed / extended.

Unitary fees and disbursements have a unit and rate. For example

  1. An Advocate’s account is entered with a unit of 1, with the rate being the the invoiced amount. If the Advocate and the firm are registered for VAT, the ex VAT amount should be entered, as LawPracticeZA will calculate and add VAT.
  2. For photocopies or travelling, for example, the unit will be the number (20 pages or 50 km) and the rate the unit cost (from the posting code, e.g. cost per page or per km). LawPracticeZA calculates the total amount by multiplying the two.

If the Matters Department is set to a ‘Tariff bundle’, the related Posting Codes will be included in the list for selection. If a tariff scale (i.e. A, B, C o D) is applicable, the apppropriate tariff will be loaded automatically as the rate.

Transactions: includes options for generate invoices, etc.

By default, all unbilled fees and disbursements are listed, with the following options

Transation groups with balances

There are balances for the various groups of transactions. Click on a balance to select the group. By default, ALL UNBILLED is selected. UNBILLED FEES included only fees, whereas UNBILLED DISBURSEMENTS, only disbursements.

  1. All Unbilled: displays unbilled fees and disbursements, which can be edited (pen icon) or deleted (trash can icon). There are a number of options available for unbilled fees and pending disbursements.

    1. Invoice Selected: this will generate an invoice (includes selected items, all by default) and automatically post all the appropriate accounting transactions and update the affected account balances. Generally a proforma invoice is generated prior to invoicing, either to check the invoice details internally, or with the client.
    2. Proforma invoice: generates an invoice, without updating any balances or generating accounting transactions.
    3. Delete selected: if you need to delete more than one entry, select the entries to be deleted and click this button.
    4. Move selected: move the selected unbilled fees and disbursements to a differnt Matter.

    Note

    Can be very useful in the instance where an invoice issued to the wrong client is credited, and needs to be issued to the correct client, without re-entering all the fees and/or disbursements. In this instance, the invoiced items can be copied to unbilled, then moved to the correct Matter using this option.

  2. Accounting Entries: includes business transactions, e.g. invoices, business receipts and payment, and trust transfers.

    1. Generate a Matter Statement: Display a statement of account for the client’s matter, with options to Send or produce a PDF statement. The PDF is in the same format that the client receives, with separate sections for business, trust and investment transactions and balances, showing how much the client owes, how much is held in trust for the client, and how much is invested for the client. Sections only show where there are transactions.
    2. Send Matter Statement now: will email the statement details with the statement attached to the client. Note that the statement is summarised in the body of the email with hyperlinks to invoices (so the client can recall any invoices in the statement by clicking on the link) and receipts (so the client can print a receipt), and you can add a message to the email. Also note that Statements can be sent (emailed) in bulk at month-end, selectiely, where multiple Matters can be included in one clients statement, whereas this option includes only the current Matter.
    3. To load a transaction (e.g. an Invoice) click on the reference number (e.g. the invoice number). The invoice will load, with a number of options: to send, reverse, etc. See all options below.
  3. Trust Transactions: These include trust payments and receipts, which include trust transfers. You can click on a transactions reference to load the transactions details.

  4. Section 86(4) [78(2A)]: Investment and withdrawal transactions, including interest and charges.

  5. GMAIL: If gmail integration is activated, this option will display a list of emails from your gmail account which match on either any email address associated with the client or matter, or where the email contains the matter code. The list includes a filter; type any word or phrase in the filer, and only matching emails will be displayed. Clicking on an email opens that email in gmail in a separate tab.

  6. Note: If there are any notes (with attachments), will show the number. Click to list existing notes and attachments, with option to add a new note with or without an attachment. Existing notes can be deleted. An attachment can be any electronic object, for example, a scanned document, a recorded voice message or even a video clip.

When you select an invoice

The invoice details are displayed, with a summary of account and fee earner allocations and a number of available options.

PDF

Produce a PDF copy of the invoice. This can be printed or saved. The saved PDF can be attached to an email.

Send

Automatically email to the Matters Accounts email address, as a PDF attachment. A copy is saved in the firms backup email account.

Copy to unbilled

Will restore all the invoice line items to their original state as unbilled fees and disbursements, where they can be edited, deleted, or moved to a different Matter. Usually used in conjunction with ‘Reverse’ (see below).

Mark as Sent

When LawPracticeZA automatically emails an invioice, it is marked as sent. If you manually email and invoice for some reason, you can mark it as sent, so that it does not appear in the list of unsent invoices.

Reverse

Generates a Credit Note and posts all the accounting entries and updates balances, which are opposite to the invoice.

Change date

There may be occasions where you wish to change the date, for example if the invoice is generated on a the first of a month but you want it to reflect in the previous month, and be included in the previous months income and expense report. The invoice date can only be changed if

  1. The invoice has not been sent.
  2. The date falls within the accounting period; i.e. cannot be changed to a date prior to the last ‘freeze’ date.

Logging out and Account Settings

Above the Menu filter are the options for Account Settings and to Log-out. Account settings provide the following options: -

  1. Password. Change your password, but be sure to remember your new password.
  2. Gmail integration. Will show a list of emails likely to be related to a client’s matter where possible. See note below.
  3. Google Calendar integration.
  4. Display name. How your name will appear throughout LawPracticeZA.
  5. Your email address.

Note

Gmail integration: when accessing a Matter the gmail button will display all emails where a list of search results from the user’s gmail account matches on either any email address associated with client or matter, or where the email contains the matter code.