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How To Pick The Right POS System for Your Legal Practice

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Point of sale (POS) systems are crucial for the smooth running of businesses across all industries, including the legal industry. These POS systems not only help you accept and process different payment methods faster and more securely, but they also help streamline other aspects of running your business, including inventory management, invoicing, and accounting. In doing so, POS systems can help you focus on your primary task – providing legal advice and helping to solve your clients’ legal issues.

POS systems are quick and simple to set up, allowing your law firm to hit the ground running with personalized onboarding and an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.

With there being so many options to choose from, knowing which POS system is best suited for your legal practice can be challenging. So, this article covers everything you need to know about POS systems for your legal practice to help you make an informed decision when choosing one for your law firm.

First, let’s look at what a legal service POS system is.

What is a legal service POS system?

When you hear the term legal service POS system, the first thing you might think of is a cash register used to process payments. While a POS system is also known as an electronic modern cash register, there are many other tasks that POS systems handle. Of course, there are still physical hardware components like credit card and debit card readers, receipt printers, and payment terminals, but there is also a world of software options to choose from that can help you undertake various tasks in your law firm.

As more and more legal service operations are being conducted online, a quality POS system should be able to efficiently support both online and in-person legal services. The integration of online and in-person services should be smooth such that both you and your customers can easily navigate the system. It should also be able to provide you with valuable insights and real-time detailed reports that can aid you in making informed business decisions. Additionally, a modern legal service POS system should empower employees with product information on the go, manage inventory, and also serve as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software system.

In that sense, having a modern legal service POS system is mission-critical to the success of your law firm.

What are the best legal services POS features for small businesses?

With several legal services POS systems available to choose from, and each with different features, it can be challenging to decide which one among them is best suited for your business. However, understanding which features are crucial for the smooth running of your law firm will help you pick out the right system.

Ahead is an in-depth discussion of some of the features you should consider before deciding to purchase a POS system.

Secure payment processing

Legal service POS systems should be more than digital cash registers; they should have advanced security features that help enhance payment processing. The POS system should enable customers to stay in control of their payment data such that your staff need not physically handle debit cards and credit cards. This will help mitigate the danger of your customers becoming scam victims since the payment source never leaves the customer's hand – they can either swipe, insert a debit card or credit card, or use contactless payment. In addition, the systems can be set up to have the secure payment processing data assigned to a specific staff member, thereby reducing security risks to your business.

Cybersecurity breaches are very dangerous for any business, and customer data is on the attackers’ radar as far as card payments and personal information are concerned. So, it’s imperative that law firms such as yours choose to use a modern POS system with advanced security features. It should have a highly secure payment processor that can encrypt all customer transactions. With such capabilities, it will not only ensure that customer data is safeguarded, but a data trail will also be maintained in case of audits.

Automated billing

Billing is often one of the major challenges facing law firms. Complex invoicing processes, inadequate time tracking, and inefficient debt collection processes are just a few. Legal service POS systems can provide viable solutions to these issues with automated billing processes for quicker client payments and greater efficiency. With a robust POS system, you can experience fast payment processing and a wide range of payment methods being accepted, including Apple Pay and PayPal, among others.

Using your existing customer data, you can program this app to automatically bill clients. A POS system provides a quick and easy payment option. As such, there is a greater chance of your clients making timely payments. Moreover, besides streamlining your debt collection process, a POS system with automated billing will ensure that your law firm can easily identify shortcomings within the invoicing process. After all, time spent remedying client billing disputes is time lost that could be spent on handling client billable tasks. The automated billing process will help your law firm spend more time generating more money rather than trying to collect that which you've already worked for.

Customer communication database

Technological advancements have given rise to POS systems that are integrated with CRM tools. A legal service POS system with CRM features serves as the hub for merging customer management services and your firm's legal service records. It automates the process of sharing information collected using the POS system, allowing the CRM capabilities to use the data collected. The CRM-powered POS system can enable you to undertake the following tasks:

  • Track leads to give you the opportunity to convert the leads into clients.
  • Store and manage customer contact information such as their phone number, mailing address, the client's company name and physical address, client conversations, and more.
  • Track individual client’s history of retaining legal services.
  • Organize and segment customers into groups and subgroups.
  • Record and track customer feedback.
  • Integrate the use of text messages, social media, and email for communication with your clients.

A POS system with CRM features will save you time on gathering and storing client data and help improve customer relations. Besides that, it can help improve your bottom line by, among other things, enabling you to capture customer information quickly, identify returning clients, improve communication with your customers, and automate your back-end processes.

Secure document storage

Not every POS system has the same level of risk when it comes to securely storing documents. Most attacks on POS systems are usually targeted toward systems that have vulnerabilities.

POS system security is challenging given the sheer volume of both known and unknown threats that exist, as well as the value of the data and documents that the POS systems hold. Moreover, the number of threats fashioned toward POS systems continues to increase because new POS malware is developed and updated continuously.

With this in mind, how efficient a legal service POS system is at securely storing data and documents should be at the top of your list when choosing one for your firm. Keep in mind that loss of sensitive client data can be highly costly both with your financial bottom line and damaging your firm's reputation.

The security of your documents doesn't stop with acquiring a secure POS system. You should take additional steps to implement measures that can further fortify its security. These measures include:

  • Encrypting all POS data upon entry into the system and only decrypting it when it reaches the payment processor.
  • Keeping the POS software updated by installing software updates, which usually contain vital security patches implemented due to the discovery of new vulnerabilities.
  • Monitoring all activities in the POS system and documents for any anomalies and indications of threats.
  • Always using complex, secure passwords, and two-factor authentication.
  • Running antivirus software and routinely scanning your POS system for malicious files.
  • Performing vulnerability tests regularly to identify any weaknesses.
  • Implementing procedures to address and protect any vulnerabilities that you detect.

Administrative services

Long gone are the days when POS systems were only used for processing payments. Today's POS systems can be used to undertake a wide range of tasks, including automatically billing customers and tracking employee activities, whether it’s hours worked or how many case files are reviewed. POS systems can also help you streamline HR and training, and manage employee scheduling. These systems have all your essential data stored where you can easily retrieve it when you need it.

However, not all POS systems are created equal. While some have features that can help you undertake your administrative services, others don't. That said, it is advisable to go with a legal services POS system that will enable you to streamline your administrative services, such as record keeping, mailing documents, and printing and copying legal material.

Why you need a POS system built specifically for a legal service business

When it comes to acquiring a POS system for your legal practice, one of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is purchasing a POS system intended for other industries instead of a POS system specifically designed for legal services. Unfortunately, this is one of the common errors business owners make.

Here are the reasons why you should use a POS system built specifically for a legal service business:

Legal service has its own distinct operational challenges

Just like with other industries, the legal services business has its own unique set of operational challenges. As such, they need a POS system that is designed to help them overcome these challenges. A POS system built for retailers is specifically designed to help them run a retail business and to make the job of the staff significantly easier. As such, when you decide to use it in your legal service business, it won't be as effective compared to when it’s used for its intended purpose. When you use a legal service POS system, your staff will be able to perform their jobs quickly and efficiently, therefore improving your bottom line and maintaining your customer base.

Using a legal service POS system ensures that you can scale as your practice grows

Using the right POS system isn't just about managing your day-to-day operations; it’s also for the long-term growth of your firm. Legal service POS systems are designed to scale with relevant additions to your specific practice, such as the introduction of a new asset of practice to your current portfolio or an increase in your client base.

Billing and payment processing

Having a robust billing and payment processing system in your law firm can give you the edge over your competition. Manually compiling your law firm's invoices can equate to several hours of lost time each month, and a POS system can alleviate that stress. Furthermore, it ensures you never lose track of unpaid invoices by enabling you to easily monitor all outstanding and overdue payments, thereby keeping your business financially healthy and up-to-date.

Compliance with the American Bar Association guidelines

Compliance with the American Bar Association guidelines, such as Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA), is a must. An IOLTA is a collective, interest-earning business checking account for the deposit of client funds which pays all the interest earned to the lawyer's trust fund. Lawyers’ trust funds are tricky because they have specific rules that mandate what you can and can't do.

Among the common mistakes that lawyers make with IOLTA include borrowing money from those accounts and failing to separate their business account from their clients' accounts. The penalties for making such mistakes can be severe, and in some cases can even lead to disbarment.

That being said, using a legal service POS system can help prevent you from making such mistakes – it will help you link your proper bank accounts to merchants and also ensure that you use the right account for each transaction.

Bottom line

A POS system is one of the most important investments you can make for your legal practice. It will not only help you streamline and secure your payment process so that your clients don't become scam victims, but, among other things, it will help ensure that your practice is compliant with ABA guidelines such as IOLTA. With that in mind, it is important that you choose a tested and proven POS system provider.

Ready to work with a payment processor who can help you pick the right POS system for your legal practice?

Heartland is here to help. Heartland is the point of sale, payments, and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need people-powered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back, and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs trust Heartland to guide them through market changes and technology changes, so they can be competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of surviving the daily grind. Learn more at heartland.us.