Buchanan Environmental Litigation Shareholder Jim O'Toole sat down with Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Chris Mondics to demonstrate how Buchanan has employed software to assist in managing the business-side of law firms for an article titled "Cutting-edge tracking of law firm finances," that was published on December 1, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to what Mondics learned, "Buchanan Ingersoll software not only tracks receivables for each of the firm's lawyers and correlates that cash flow with the companywide budget, but it also spots troubling collection trends and spits out data that can help attorneys decide whether to give a client more time to pay."

O'Toole explained, "Lawyers are best at practicing law. …The challenge was to provide them with current information that could help them better manage their practice and help us manage our firm."

As Mondics reported, "Not only does the system provide practical information to lawyers who might feel the need to pick up the phone and call a client who has fallen behind by 90 days or more, but it also is intended to send a powerful message: The firm is a business, and every lawyer needs to be focused on the financial bottom line."
 
O'Toole explained, "Clients more readily relate to firms that institute cutting-edge business practices, he says, because it suggests they will more easily understand the bottom-line pressures faced by clients."

The article went on to note that the database also helped the firm develop various billing arrangements for clients who didn't want to be charged by the hour, but rather preferred to pay a flat fee for service. In such so-called alternative-fee arrangements, the firm offers to handle a litigation matter or some other representation for an agreed-upon cost, rather than billing strictly by the hour.

"You get a very real sense on a daily basis of how your business is operating," says O'Toole.