I am not affiliated with Quickbooks in any way, but I’ve noticed that switching from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online is something that many law firms have been putting off for years. Even with limitations like not getting real-time data and even when they’ve heard that the online version will make their accounts more precise, efficient, and compliant, attorneys are still reluctant to change.
I spoke with three QuickBooks accounting experts to get a sense of the inertia they found in law firms. They discussed with me the fear of change, the fear of technology, and worry about the cost. All three accounting pros have converted law firms from Desktop to QuickBooks Online and say that none of the attorneys have regretted the switch.
The Reluctance To Change
Lynda Artesani, owner of Artesani Bookkeeping and a specialist in law firm accounting, spoke about an older partner of a law firm who was accustomed to using Desktop and didn’t see the value in moving to the cloud: the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category. What he didn’t realize is not only the time savings of automation (no more hours spent reconciling the books each month) but also the efficiencies of accuracy and ability to reduce staff size—huge cost savings, thanks to real-time automation. When you’re in the cloud, you can be away from the office and have the information at your fingertips.
Reluctance also stemmed from ideas about security breaches and the new software not being able to do what they do now. But Brandy Derrick, owner of LegalEaseBookKeeping.com explained that QuickBooks Online has the highest level of encryption—as secure as your bank’s website. And truthfully, most likely more secure than your law office server. As a law firm specialist, Brandy insists that the Online version can do everything that Desktop can. “People hate change: it takes time to learn a new system but with the software integrations and automation, law firms can save themselves a significant amount of time by using the online version.”
The Disadvantages of Staying with Desktop
It’s old school to have your bookkeeper come to your office each month to reconcile your books and charge you for those hours. Even with the additional cost of QuickBooks Online, you’ll come out ahead of the game, financially speaking, just by automating reconciliation. We haven’t even mentioned yet the other features like reporting, that add value.
Sarah Prevost, another law firm accounting expert from Mintage Labs, asks attorneys to consider their billable hour to the amount of the software. If there is no real-time data, you don’t drive the business when you are looking at historical reports. Since Desktop is not updating data in real-time, not knowing if your trust account details are up to date can cause pain: some law firms use extra supplemental spreadsheets to make up for this (back to spending time and money because time is money).
Brandy adds that with Desktop, you cannot integrate with practice management software which means there will be errors and time spent finding those errors. Again, additional cost.
All three of these experts see no cost advantage from staying with Desktop when taking into consideration the automation that rids the law firm of manual work, billed by the bookkeeper.
Artesani says that automation is a thing of beauty, especially when it means she can help her clients dedicate their valuable time to more meaningful tasks than manually entering a billable expense. She and Sarah worked on a more massive conversion recently and the first thing she heard after the switch to QuickBooks Online was a sigh of relief on the time savings: No more manual entries, we’re now able to do bulk invoices and we can both be in the program at the same time!