Overview

LawPracticeZA is a web-based Matter Management and Billing application with integrated business and trust accounting, designed for South African Law firms.

LawPracticeZA is hosted on our powerful Linux servers, housed in a secure data centre where regular on and off site backups are performed. Users access LawPracticeZA via a browser, which means data is accessible using various devices (computers, laptops, Widows, Apple, iPads, smartphones) at any time, from anywhere (with an internet connection). The responsive software design makes LawPracticeZA practical to use even on a smartphone (for example when at court or waiting for a flight at an airport).

Being a hosted solution also means that software updates are frequent, and help is always on hand. At the bottom of every screen is SUBMIT A SUPPORT REQUEST, which should be used for both queries and reporting bugs: everyone at LawPracticeZA is immediately notified and the issue is logged in our issues management system.

Matter Management and Billing

LawPracticeZA is based on the concept of Clients, each with one or more Matters. Think of a Matter as an instruction from a client.

Fee Earners (lawyers and candidate attorneys) capture fees and disbursements against Matters as unbilled (WIP) transactions. A non-fee earner (paralegal or secretary), given access to a matter, can also capture fees on behalf of a fee earner. Periodically, unbilled fees can be invoiced: typically on conclusion of a Matter, or at a milestone event for long-running matters. A Fee earner may produce a proforma invoice prior to invoicing, either to check the details or to provide to the client before invoicing (invoicing updates the accounts and consequently has VAT and tax consequences, whereas a proforma invoice does not).

Invoices can be generated by a fee earner individually or in bulk (selectively), and/or by the accounts department.

Invoices (and Statements to Clients) can be emailed directly from within LawPracticeZA, and Clients can access invoices from a hyperlink in the statement that they receive via email. There is also an option to include invoices with the emailed statement.

User Guides and Help with LawPracticeZA

There are a number of user categories: Fee Earner, Bookkeepers, Administrators and other users (clerks, secretaries).

Note

The trend for web-based applications is ‘self-taught’ or ‘self-learning’. Although legal accounting, and especially trust accounting, can be complex, LawPracticeZA has, together with an intuitive interface, incorporated many controls and automation to make this process as simple and error-free as possible.

This manual is provided to assist with achieving self-sufficiency as quickly and painlessly as possible. Accurate and up-to-date trust accounts are critical, but for a successful practice, Matter Management and Billing with integrated business and trust accounting is extremely important. Good legal bookkeepers are in short supply, and LawPracticeZA is an application that encapsulates much of the expertise required.

LawPracticeZA is your 24/7 expert assistant, helping you to run your law firm efficiently and effectively.

Note

This is a living document that is updated as new features and functionality is added to LawPracticeZA. Visit often.

How to use this manual

The various sections in the manual are designed to satisfy specific requirements. For example, when a Fee earner is new to LawPracticeZA, the Fee Earner Getting Started section will provide quick and simple help for getting up and running. As more experience is gained and assistance is needed for a specific function, the more in-depth Fee Earner User Guide will be useful.

  1. Fee Earner: Getting Started: this provides the typical administrative actions that a fee earner would perform using LawPracticeZA in a normal working day, plus other actions that affect the fee earner (but may be the domain of the bookkeeper). Full details of all fee earner functions are provided in the Fee Earner Guide (see below).
  2. Fee Earner User Guide provides details of all Fee Earner functions.
  3. Bookkeeper User Guide provides details of all Bookkeeper functions.
  4. Administrator Guide provides details of all Admin functions.
  5. Concepts provides explanations for issues relating and pertinent to law firms. This is followed by frequently asked questions - with answers (FAQ’s).
  6. API Guide and Schema provide technical information for developers interesting in integrating LawPracticeZA with their applications, or larger firms, with in-house IT expertise, integrating customised systems with LawPracticeZA.

Note

Most sections provide links to load the module under review: you must be logged in to LawPracticeZA for the module to load, and you will need rights to the module. For example, if a ‘Fee Earner’ and not also a ‘Bookkeeper’, you will not be able to load a bookkeeping function.

The User Guide sections of the manual mirrors the menu. Different users may have different privileges, so not all options may be available when you login.

The best way of learning is doing: start with Fee Earner: Getting Started. Once more familiar with LawPracticeZA, help on all Fee Earners functions is provided for in the Fee Earner User Guide. The additional aids (details below) will also help you get up and running quickly.

Additional aids for learning and using LawPracticeZA

To provide a compact and efficient means to firstly gain a ‘mile-high’ view of LawPracticeZA, but also to drill-down into the specific function required, we have designed a number of ‘Guidance Cards’ (PDF documents), which can be printed or viewed on-line.

When viewed on-line, help for a specific topic or function can be accessed by clicking on the relevant info icon.

To load a function (e.g. Matter Receipt or Trust Transfer), click the relevant section in the Card.

Note

You must be logged into LawPracticeZA when clicking most of the links in the PDF (and be in the same browser which your system uses when opening web links from PDFs).

There are several documents; each provides for a different category of user.

  1. Single page Fee Earners Guidance Card summarizes all fee earner functionality, with a flowchart of the most common activities.
  2. Bookkeeper Guide <https://lawpracticeza.com/static/LawPracticeZA%20Bookkeeper.pdf>`_
  3. Administrators:
  4. A chart of Debits and Credits summarises all the bookkeeping accounting entries in a law firm.
  5. A copy of this manual is also available in pdf format, which can be read off-line and is searchable and can be printed.

Log in and out and passwords

To log in, enter the username and password provided by LawPracticeZA, in the fields provided on the LawPracticeZA website, and SIGN IN.

To log out, click your login name (immediately above the Menu Filter).

The Account Settings option allows you to change your display name (e.g. on Invoices) and password.

Note

To change your password, you will have to enter your current password, then your new password. You can let the system automatically generate you a new password. You will need to re-enter your password to confirm that it is correct.