Conflict of Interest
The data that is necessary for a billing system to function may also serve many other applications. For example, data entered into
Legalmaster are accessible to our own fully integrated and Calendaring modules. Conflict of Interest
Legalmaster’s Conflict of Interest module permits searches for matching names (or any other text, for that matter) through the entire Legalmaster database. For our purposes here, you may think of Legalmaster’s database as consisting of 5 parts. When you perform a search you may target your search to any combination of them. You may search for matches of many names in a single pass through Legalmaster’s database. This is one of the features that characterizes a true Conflicts system.
Clients - You may search through your entire list of clients for text buried anywhere in the client’s name and, optionally, the client’s address.
Cases(or matters) - Legalmaster permits you to store up to 1000 characters of description associated with each of your matters. You may think of this as an elaborate regarding line. It is actually 20 lines of 50 characters each. You may assign to each of the 20 lines your own caption. The caption appears on the case entry screen, bills, management reports and conflicts reports. All or any portion of this information may appear on your bills. All of it may be searched by the Conflicts system.
You may assign to any of your matters a billing address that differs from the address associated with the matter’s client. In addition, you may assign as many additional addresses to a matter as you wish; these serve as
cc’s on the bill. All of these addresses may be searched by Conflicts.
There is yet another option that lets you search or not search for buried text. For example, if you search for the name Smith, you may determine whether or not you want a match to be made with Smithsonian and/or Goldsmith.
The Conflicts List - It is likely that some of your clients or matters have associated with them more people or institutions than are necessary to store for billing purposes. As a consequence, Legalmaster’s Conflicts Module lets you store as many additional names as you want (actually, there is a limit, it’s sixteen million). The Conflicts search engine looks at these names, as well. In this instance, you have yet another option; you may perform what we call a vowel-less search. It’s a tool that we created to address the problem of variant spellings (Peterson and Petersen, for example) and, unlike sound-based tools, it works with foreign names.
Financial Transaction Descriptions - You may even ask Legalmaster to search through the descriptions associated with every time entry that you have ever entered. The system will tell you that you had lunch with so-and-so seven years ago regarding such-and-such a matter.
Calendar Descriptions - If you are using Legalmaster’s Calendaring Module, you may search through the descriptions of your Calendar entries, as well.
Every matter (case) stores up to 1000 characters of matter description. Divided into 20 lines of 50 characters each, with each line provided its own matter-specific user-definable caption, these lines may be used for sorting or filtering on reports. As a result, many of our clients consider
Legalmaster to include rudimentary case management capabilities. Calendaring
The data that are necessary for a billing system to function may also serve many other applications. For example, data entered into
Legalmaster are accessible to our own fully integrated Conflict of Interest and Calendaring modules.
Legalmaster’s Calendaring system is a sophisticated appointment book. Although it can stand alone, it is fully integrated with Legalmaster’s billing modules so that clients, matters and attorneys do not have to be entered more than once.
This simple sample report shows our upcoming tasks and appointments. In this instance we selected to sort by date. Notice that a double line separates months, a single line, days. Notice also that we handle the year 2000.
Reports may include many other fields. You may sort by client, type of event, location, attorney, etc., etc.
Legalmaster’s core application is Time and Billing. Consequently, it contains the ability to capture and store time entries as well as cost transactions.
Legalmaster may capture time from three sources.
Our own data entry screens which may be accessed by any user on a network (barring security restrictions).
Our Remote Data Entry Module, which is primarily intended for off-site batch entry.
A number of third party time capturing products, such as Amicus, DTE, TimePiece, Atilla and Carpe Diem.
Thousands of billing formats
Legalmaster is capable of printing billing statements in a few thousand formats. You may specify a different format for each of your clients; you may even vary the format for different matters belonging to the same client. Once you have told Legalmaster how you want to print a particular bill, it remembers forever.
In the section of the bill that shows the detail that supports the charges for your time, you may show any combination of the
date of each charge, the timekeeper who performed the service, the description of the service, itself (limited to about 20,000 characters per item), the time spent on the entry, the billing rate and the resultant charge. Your time entries may be sorted in any of five orders, including
date, timekeeper and type of service. If certain services are performed for a fixed fee, you may itemize or consolidate the entries that make it up, even suppressing the hours on those transactions (thus allowing you to keep track of the
actual time spent) while showing hours on other entries. You may display the life-of-matter billings and/or receipts at the bottom of the bill for those clients of yours that demand that information.
The wording of
every caption, every column header, every phrase, in fact, is under your control. You may even have different captions for different matters. If you are using an HP laserjet printer, you may even have your own fancy letterhead appear at the top of the first page of each bill.
Designed specifically for law firms
Legalmaster was designed to address the specific requirements of law firms, such as task billing, split billing, integrated conflict of interest and calendaring, allocation of receipts by originating attorney, responsible attorney or even timekeeper.
Legalmaster is date sensitive throughout, you may enter data for a new billing period even before you have billed the previous period. All detailed activity may be retained for as long as you wish. As a result, old invoices may be printed anytime and management reports may reflect activity between
any two dates. This is best illustrated by Legalmaster’s report writer. Data may be imported and exported to or from dozens of other software packages.
This feature is included in our financial management module It lets you distribute the work done on a matter among multiple clients. Your fees and costs are entered once and a separate bill is produced for each client showing his or her share.
Although quite a few software companies are now offering fee splitting, there are very significant differences among them.
Legalmaster offers quite a few features that you will not find elsewhere.
Each client sharing the billing is assigned his or her own receivable account. You don’t have to photocopy bills or keep manual track of who paid and who didn’t.
Your split may be based either upon
percentages or upon amounts. For example, you may wish to split a case among four clients at 10%, 20%, 30% and 40%, respectively, either at the same or at different billing rates. On the other hand, you may want one client (the insurance company, for example) to pay the first $125 per hour, while the other client pays the difference between $125 per hour and your normal $200 per hour billing rate; i.e., $75 per hour. The bill shows the
unsplit hours and amounts with the client’s respective share split in toto only. If, for example, you work a tenth of an hour to be split equally between two clients, neither client will see a meaningless .05 hours figure on his or her bill. Instead, each will see the full .1 value (assuming that you choose to show hours on this client’s bill), the total value of all time at the non-shared rate and a calculation of that client’s share of the dollar amount. Should you need to change the description associated with a split entry, you need only change it
once. Legalmaster will reflect the change for every client. Let’s say that you have a case which is split among four clients and have entered time all month. An attorney remembers to tell you on the 26th of the month that a fifth client was added to the split on the 10th.
Legalmaster offers an easy way to address this annoyance without your having to reenter any transactions. You may charge one client for a non-split entry if you wish. Such transactions are shown separately immediately after the split entries so as to make it clear to the client which is which.
We have created a couple of terms that will be useful in describing this feature. If you wish to split the fees and/or costs among a number of clients, you must create one extra matter; we call that matter the
Dummy. The clients actually being billed we call the Receptors.
A Dummy may have as many Receptors as you wish. Each Receptor is limited to one Dummy. Each receptor may be assigned a percentage value for fees and another for costs. Although it could be argued that the percentages should sum to 100, it is not a requirement of the software.
The receptors do not all have to be billed at the same rates. For example, let’s say that you split a matter between two clients at 50% each. You work an hour on the matter and want one client billed at $100 per hour and the other client billed at $125 per hour. As a result, the clients would be billed $50 and $62.50 respectively.
Fees or costs may be entered directly against a Receptor if they are not to be shared.
Legalmaster accommodates the Price Waterhouse/American Bar Association Uniform Task Based Management System (UTBMS). This conventional method of classifying time entries has been adopted by a few dozen mid-sized insurance companies. Although the larger insurance companies are for the most part developing their own task coding schemes, these other systems are structured in similar ways to that of the UTBMS. You may read much more about this on our electronic billing page.
Legalmaster’s task billing options may be tailored to address any of these systems’ demands. This capability is included with any version of Legalmaster’s billing software. Electronic Billing
Legalmaster can produce electronic bills in over 50 formats.
The challenge is that the companies that are demanding that you submit bills electronically often have disparate requirements. The structures of their electronic files vary and the task coding systems that they use vary. Most of them are having their bills mediated by third parties such as Legalgard, Examen, Law Audit Services, Petersen, Tymetrix, ELF or Datacert. While most of these companies are asking for
task coding, they’re not all using the same list of task codes. Nevertheless, most call whatever list that they do use either The ABA List or the UTBMS (Uniform Task-Based Management System). Some of the companies, such as LAS, merely require that the bill be sent as a text file, a capability that has been in Legalmaster since the mid 80’s, while others want an electronic file in some very precise format.
Many of these companies attempt to sell you software (and even hardware) that they claim is necessary to create data in their required format. It has been our experience that you need not buy anything from them unless you choose to do so;
Legalmaster can produce data in any format that any company has ever requested. Remember, if you enter charges in another piece of software just for this one client, you would probably want to enter the charges redundantly in Legalmaster in order to keep complete records of all of your matters in one place. This is quite inefficient, especially since Legalmaster can create the data just the way they want them.
As we become aware of the demands of these companies, we are creating software and procedures that export
Legalmaster billing data in each of their formats. We have already completed quite a few. Here are some of the more frequently requested formats. All are now available.
AIG (LEDES, but uses their own set of activity codes)
American Modern Home (LEDES)
Bristol Myers Squibb
Brown & Williamson
Chicago Insurance Company (Legalgard)
CGU [Commercial Union] (Examen)
Datacert, not a breath mint (LEDES)
ELF Technologies (LEDES)
Empire Fire and Marine (switched from Examen to LAS to ELF/LEDES)
Examen (both Structured Data File and Text formats)
Fireman’s Fund (Petersen and LAS)
Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Company (Legalgard)
Fremont Comp (Examen)
Great American (Legalgard)
Group Counsel Insurance Company (LRI)
Interstate Insurance Company (Legalgard)
Law Audit Services (LAS)
LEDES (Designed by PriceWaterhouse)
Legalgard (6 similar, but different, formats)
Legal Review, Inc. (LRI)
Liberty Mutual (LEDES)
MetLife (Examen and UTBMS)
Nationwide (LMA) (Legalgard)
Occam’s Razor Technologies, name changed to Datacert (LEDES)
Penn-America Insurance Company (Legalgard)
Penn National (Legalgard)
Penn-Star Insurance Company (Legalgard)
Peterson Consulting (BES)
Physicians Reciprocal Insurers (Peterson)
Providence Washington (Legalgard)
Republic Industries (Legalgard)
Royal & SunAlliance (Legalgard)
Scottsdale Insurance Company
ShareDoc/Legal (developed by Datacert, LEDES format)
Stuart, Maue, Mitchell & James (SMMJ)
Trinity Universal Insurance Company (Legalgard)
Uniform Task Base Management System (UTBMS)
Universal Underwriters Group (LEDES)
Victoria Insurance (LAS)
Vik Brothers (Legalgard)
Our report writer
Legalmaster includes a facility that we call MIRC (Management Information Report Control). It lets you design your own reports. The power, flexibility and ease of use of this feature set Legalmaster apart from all other law office financial management software packages. Many of our clients chose to buy Legalmaster when they saw MIRC.
We wrote MIRC, ourselves. It is not a third party report writer. As a result it is tailored specifically for use with
There are actually four MIRCs within
Legalmaster. The first two are part of Legalmaster’s Standard Version, that is, they’re included with all copies of the software at no extra charge; the remaining two, Revenue Allocation and Calendar, are optional. Each MIRC provides access to different levels of the database. Each allows you to produce reports showing excruciating detail, convenient summaries or both. In the interest of space, all of our examples are of summary form.
MIRC for Cases provides the ability to create reports which focus on client or matter (case) data. What we mean by that is that the most detailed level of analysis available is the case; i.e., you cannot get transaction detail here. If you have 2,537 cases in your firm, for example, you would get no more than 2,537 lines on your MIRC for Cases report (plus any optional subtotals). Subtotals may be produced by any field assigned to clients or matters, of which there are about 60 (area of law, responsible or originating attorney, type of client, zip code, city, any of 20 user-definable matter-specific fields, etc., etc.). You may even see these subtotals with or without the corresponding supporting detail. There are about 190 fields of information that can actually appear on one of these reports. Each column that contains amounts (hours or dollars) may have its own date range.
MIRC for Transactions takes you one step further and actually lets you print out your detailed financial transactions. This facility is necessary if you want to analyze your data by any field stored at the transaction level. The most common examples of this are_ working attorney_ and type of activity (or task). This MIRC is the one to use if you wish to create a report showing the full descriptive text of each entry.
MIRC for Revenue Allocation is optional. It is for firms that need to know who did the work that produced cash receipts months later.
MIRC for Calendar comes with our optional Calendar module. Import
Legalmaster has the ability to capture data from any software that exports into our simple ASCII exchange format. Although many users have written their own interfaces from other software, such as_ WordPerfect_, most rely on interfaces already on the market.
The most common use of this capability is to capture data from cost recovery devices such as photocopiers, telephone systems, postage meters and fax machines. Among others, companies such as Equitrac, Copyguard, Copitrak, Transaction Recording Systems and Infortext offer Legalmaster download facilities.
Another common use of
Legalmaster’s Import Module is to capture data from Accounts Payable software packages. Most of our clients use LIBRA, Quickbooks or Platinum.
There are a number of time tracking packages that send their data to
Legalmaster via our Import Module. Check out DTE (Distributed Time Entry), Carpe Diem, Atilla, Time Piece, Amicus, among others. Remote Transaction Data Entry
Although you may enter your time directly into
Legalmaster’s host application, you may also enter time via our Remote Transaction Data Entry Module. This piece of software lets you enter your activity at computers that are not necessarily connected to your host Legalmaster computer. Remote Entry may run on stand-alone computers or on networks. If your host system is on a network, you may put your Remote Entry software on the same network or on a different network. The advantage of having the Remote software on the same network as the host is that you may perform validation using the host’s master files.
Legalmaster’s Remote Transaction Data Entry software is available both in a DOS version and a 32 bit Windows version.