This invoicing tutorial will help familiarize you with the power of the Law Ruler billing feature. Law Ruler billing does it all. It is very flexible and can handle billing for any type of firm including contingency, hourly, flat-fee, pro bono, or a mix of them all. This tutorial will pick up where the time entries and expense videos ended. Please review those videos to learn how to add time and expenses since they are not the core material of this billing tutorial.
This tutorial will also help familiarize you with how to accept credit card and eCheck payments with the LawPay integration with Law Ruler. In today’s business environment, credit card and eCheck (ACH/EFT) payments are the gold standard. Law Ruler has integrated with LawPay, the market leader in law firm payments.
Law Ruler’s “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” allows you to make unlimited adjustments to invoices before sending them to clients. Also, one of the time-saving features that will be covered is 1-click AutoPayment of invoices if there are available account balances. You are going to love it ❤️
It is recommended that you already have a case with time entries and/or expenses on it before starting this tutorial.
- Enable Credit Card and eCheck Payments with LawPay to Get Paid Faster
- Setting up the Client Statement of Account on Invoices
- Billing Settings for AutoPay from Client Trust and/or Operating Accounts
- Billing Settings for Invoice Approvals – Auto-Approve or Require Approval of Each Invoice
- Billing Settings for Editing Invoices After they are Created/Approved
- Getting Started - Send a Retainer Request
- Open a Case that has a Time Entry and/or Expense to be Billed
- How to Create a New Invoice
- Using the Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor
- Using the Hovering Toolbar & Saving Your First Invoice
- Your Firm’s Logo and Contact Information on Invoices
- Invoice Status, Invoice Date, Due Date, Amount Due
- Managing Services and Expenses in an Invoice
- Tax, Interest, and Total on Invoices
- Customer Notes and Terms and Conditions
- Custom Invoice Settings for Each Invoice
- AutoPayment and Financial Transactions When Invoices are Saved
Enable Credit Card and eCheck Payments to Get Paid Faster
Let’s get started with how to connect LawPay to your Law Ruler system. The future is here and accepting payments via credit cards and eChecks (ACH/EFT) is key to maintaining positive cash flow. Candidly, credit cards and eChecks allow your firm to save time during the invoice and collections process and are more of a requirement than a convenience today. Law Ruler proudly supports our integration with the market-leading payment vendor, Law Pay.
To activate the LawPay integration, click on “Setup” and “Billing Settings”
On the “Billing Settings” screen, in the top-right corner, click on the green button to “Activate/Sign in to LawPay”
After clicking this button, you will be asked to enter your LawPay login and password. This is required to activate the integration. Also, please be advised that all credit card and eCheck processing is performed securely in a PCI compliant environment on LawPay’s servers. Law Ruler opens a secure gateway to LawPay and does not store any credit card or eCheck banking information to maintain our PCI compliance. This approach will keep the payment information as secure as possible.
LawPay makes it easy to sign up. If you do not have a LawPay account yet, then click to apply inside of the Law Ruler “Billing Settings” screen. It is important that you do this from inside of Law Ruler so LawPay knows how to process your application. After LawPay approves your account, please come back to this screen and use the instructions above to click on the green button to “Activate/Sign in to LawPay”
Please press “Save” in the top-right corner of the screen after adding your LawPay account.
At this time, your LawPay account will be synced with Law Ruler and you will be able to start sending payment requests for credit card and eCheck transactions to your clients. Enjoy! 💳
If successful, your screen should have the green “Connected” indicator after “Sign in using your LawPay account”
If you need to disconnect your LawPay account from Law Ruler, then press the red “Disconnect” button under the “Deactivate Payments” header which will appear only after your account is successfully connected to LawPay.
Also, you have a few other options that are optional for LawPay. First, choose the payment methods that you want to accept. You may choose from “Allow Payments via Credit Card” or “Allow Payments via eCheck (ACH/EFT)” Most firms will want to accept both since eChecks usually have a lower merchant transaction fee than credit cards.
Finally, you will decide if you want to “Allow clients to edit the payment amount on LawPay invoices” This is set to “Off” by default which will only allow clients to pay the amount in your invoice and not edit the amount. If you would like to turn this “On” then press the “On/Off” selector control, and then press the blue “Save” button in the top-right corner of the “Billing Settings” screen.
Setting up the Client Statement of Account on Invoices
The Law Ruler “Billing Settings” screen will allow you to decide how much account information you share on each invoice. Every firm differs so we make this completely customizable. You have two options for how you would like to share the “Client Statement of Account on Invoices” A lot of practices will enable the “Account Details” option since it will print out all related transactions at the bottom of each invoice and an “Account Balance” for the trust and/or operating account. You may decide if you want to show the “Account Balances” for both trust and operating accounts, or only the trust account. Usually, it reduces unnecessary questions from clients to show it all, but the choice is yours to make. If you want to only show the “Account Balance” and not the transaction detail, then select the “Account Summary” option, not “Account Details”
Press the blue “Save” button on the top-right corner when finished.
Billing Settings for AutoPay from Client Trust and/or Operating Accounts
Law Ruler allows you to automatically pay new invoices from trust and operating account balances from each case if you have the option enabled in “Billing Settings” or inside of the “Invoice Settings” Your firm administrator will need to decide if you allow AutoPayment from certain client accounts and determine your firm protocols.
Best practices for IOLTA client trust accounts dictates that the client trust account should only be used to pay the client since the funds in that account belong to the client. It is recommended that all other payments/transactions should be made from the operating account from each case. If you want to transfer funds from the client trust to the operating account, then you would perform transfers from trust to the operating account in each case, and then pay invoices out of the operating account.
If you would like to enable AutoPay from the trust and/or operating accounts during billing, then you will need to set it up in “Billing Settings” as shown below.
First, click on “Setup” and then “Billing Settings” from the left menu bar. If you do not have admin or accounting user permissions, then you will not see these options so please contact your IT department or firm administrator if you would like to enable this feature.
These settings will be applied to any new invoices created from the time that you turn them “On/Off” Press “Save” in the top-right corner to save your changes.
Any invoices created before making this change will not be affected by changing these settings. Only new invoices created will be affected after saving any billing setting changes.
Billing Settings for Invoice Approvals – Auto-Approve or Require Approval of Each Invoice
Every firm is unique and has its own set of protocols for how they do business. Smaller, boutique firms usually do not require an invoice approval process since the same user that is creating the invoices may be the user who would approve the invoices so adding this extra step would be counterproductive. However, mid-size to larger firms have more staff and may have separate accounting departments and thus will require more financial controls than smaller firms. By default, your Law Ruler system comes with the Invoice Approval option turned “Off”
If you would like to adjust the setting for Invoice Approvals, then you would go into “Setup” then click on “Billing Settings”
If you do not have admin or accounting user permissions, then you will not see these options so please contact your IT department or firm administrator if you would like to enable this feature.
From inside of “Billing Settings” you will edit the setting for “Do you want to require approval for every invoice entered in your system?”
If you would like to turn it “On” then press the slider button underneath until it turns blue/on. Then, press the “Save” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
This will activate the Invoice Approval feature for any new invoices that are created after this change is saved.
To use Invoice Approvals, you must select one or more users that will receive an Invoice Approval Request email notification for each new invoice created per the screenshot below. Only one user is required to approve each invoice. If you add more than one user to the invoice approval list, then the same rule applies, only one user is required to approve each invoice, not all users on the invoice approval list. It is ok If the invoice is approved more than once.
If Invoice Approvals are “On” then any new invoices that are created will require a user to approve them before they are able to be paid and are considered a real invoice.
By activating the Invoice Approval feature, the blue “Approve” and “Disapprove” buttons will appear in the “Invoices” tab inside of each case in your Law Ruler system per the screenshot below:
Billing Settings for Editing Invoices After they are Created/Approved
Most firms will not allow edits to invoices after they are created or approved. Best practices dictate that this should not be allowed, but Law Ruler has the flexibility to allow it. Most firms will want to void and recreate an invoice if there are issues with the invoice, and not edit an invoice after there are financial transactions on it. Because created or approved invoices are real invoices and the client has already been sent a copy, payments have been made on the invoices, or AutoPay may have already occurred.
Law Ruler does not recommend allowing edits to invoices after they are created or approved since it could potentially create an accounting headache or a lot of extra work for the person who manages the firm’s financial records.
⚠️ Please be careful with this feature 😊
By default, your Law Ruler system comes with this option turned “Off”
With that said, if you would like to adjust the setting for Invoice Approvals, then you would go into “Setup” then click on “Billing Settings” If you do not have admin or accounting user permissions, then you will not see these options so please contact your IT department or firm administrator if you would like to enable this feature.
From inside of “Billing Settings” you will edit the setting for “Do you want to be able to edit invoices after they are created/approved (not recommended?”
If you would like to turn it “On” then press the slider button underneath so it turns blue “On” Then, press the “Save” button in the top-right corner of the screen. This will activate the Edit Invoices after Created/Approved feature for any new invoices that are created after this change is saved.
⚠️Please be very careful with this feature being activated since it can create potential accounting headaches or extra work for the person that manages your accounting.
Getting Started – Send a Retainer Request
Many firms will require a retainer before starting work on a client matter. Law Ruler includes a “Shortcuts” menu with a variety of shortcuts including a link to the retainer request process.
Please note that some firms call this a “Trust Request” but in Law Ruler, asking the client to pay a retainer is referred to as a “Retainer Request” If you do not have the LawPay integration activated, then you will not see this “Shortcut”
⚠️ The LawPay integration is required to use “Retainer Requests” since this shortcut will process an online client payment and deposit these funds automatically into the “Client Trust Account” for you.
First, in the “Shortcuts” menu in a case, press the “+ Create New” button, then “New Retainer Request” as shown:
This will open the “Retainer Request” screen:
Then, you will enter the “Retainer Amount” that you would like to be paid by the client into the “Retainer Amount” field. Next, you will click the button for the type of payment that you will be processing. There are three types of online payments requests:
- Pay Now – this will open the payment form and allow you to enter the client’s credit card or eCheck (ACH/EFT) securely for a one-time payment.
- Email Payment Link – this will allow you an opportunity to enter a custom email to the client using your Retainer Request Email Template. A “Pay Retainer” button will be added to the email for you. If you would like to change the Retainer Request Templates, then please go to "Setup" > “Billing Settings” and edit the master template in that screen and press “Save” to update your Law Ruler system with the changes.
- Text Payment Link - this will allow you an opportunity to enter a custom text message to the client using your Retainer Request Text Message Template. A “Pay Retainer” link is included in the text message template.
After the online payment is successfully processed, we will see our “Shortcut” in action! Three things will happen automatically for you:
- a payment transaction will be recorded in Law Ruler for the paid “Retainer Amount”
- a deposit transaction will be recorded for the “Amount Paid”
- the retainer will now be available to be drawn against in the “Available Trust” balance in the case
Open a Case that has a Time Entry and/or Expense to be Billed
In this tutorial, we will use the “Ivan Test” case that contains expenses and a time entry that has not been billed yet. We will go step by step on how to bill this case and the various billing options that are available.
From inside of a case, click on the “Expenses” tab to view any expenses for this case. Please review the two example expenses that we added. Neither of the expenses is billed yet and are due with open balances totaling 1,900.00.
An open balance on an expense will usually indicate that the expenses have not been billed or paid yet.
Then, let’s click on the “Time Entries” tab to view any time entries/balances for this case. Please review the “Retainer” time entry that we added. This time entry has not been billed yet and is due with an open balance total of 5,000.00.
An open balance will usually indicate that the time entry has not been billed or paid yet.
How to Create a New Invoice
First, you will want to make sure that you go to your case. To do that, you will click on a case that you would like to bill from the “Inbox” and let’s get started, 5…4...3…2…1…ignition! 🚀
From inside of a case, you will want to click on the “Invoices” tab to open the Invoice screen. To create a new invoice, you will click on the “New Invoice” button. The “New Invoice” screen will now pop up in the center of your screen.
You will need to decide the date range of activities and expenses that will be added to each invoice. The default date range is “All Dates” which is all time. This setting is the easiest to use since it will automatically grab any unbilled time entries and expenses without having to worry about editing the date ranges.
You can change this to any date range if you would like to pick a custom date range, then select “Custom Date Range” at the bottom of the list of dropdown options.
After that, you will decide if you are going to invoice time entries, expenses, and/or settlement expenses. It is recommended to use the default settings of “Time Entries” and “Expenses” being turned on for billing.
By default, the “Settlement Expenses” option is not set up to bill automatically. This is because they are usually part of the contingency billing workflow which will be discussed in a separate tutorial and does not apply to flat fee or hourly billing.
After you have decided the date range and the type of activities to bill, you will press the green “Create and View” button to generate an invoice in draft mode.
If you made a mistake and do not want to bill the client at this time, then please press the red “Cancel” button. Pressing the red “Cancel” button will simply stop the process and not create an invoice at this time.
Using the Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor
After you press the green “Create and View” button, you are magically transported 🔮 to Law Ruler’s
“Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” You are going to love it ❤️
Of note, all invoices start in “Draft” mode in Law Ruler to allow your firm the ultimate ease of use and flexibility. When you first enter the “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” you will want to familiarize yourself with the “Draft” invoice.
At the top of the screen, you will see the case name in blue. The blue “Case” link will navigate you back to the case if you need to go back and look at any case details. The case link is for internal purposes only at your firm. It will only display for users inside of the system. It will be invisible to clients and anyone else that is not signed into Law Ruler.
Using the Hovering Toolbar & Saving Your First Invoice
At the bottom of the screen is the “Hovering Toolbar” which is a dark gray bar that holds your invoice controls. The “Hovering Toolbar” allows you to Cancel, Print, Save, and Send the invoice to your client. Please familiarize yourself with the “Hovering Toolbar” since the only way to make your draft invoice into a real invoice is to press “Save” in the “Hovering Toolbar” “Draft” invoices may be deleted without any transactions being created.
Various options for sending the invoice to your client such as “Email Invoice” and “Send Text” will be available after you “Save” your invoice the first time. The “Email Invoice” option will automatically “Save” the invoice and open an “Edit Email” window to allow you to preview/customize the email message to your client. You may edit the email addresses in the “Email Invoice” window without affecting the client’s email address.
This will insert a blue button link to “View Invoice” the invoice when you send the real email, not during editing. For invoices sent via email, Law Ruler tracks the email invoice opens shows you if your invoice was opened and when it was opened. This may be viewed in the Invoice screen. If you have LawPay connected to Law Ruler, then your clients will have a “Pay Now” button inside of the invoice that will allow them to pay with a credit card or eCheck.
What you see when you press “Send Email”:
What the client sees when they are emailed an invoice from Law Ruler:
The “Send Text” button will allow you to send a Text Message to your client with a link to the invoice.
What you see when you press “Send Text”:
Your clients will see the invoice when they click on the link, the same view as if the invoice was emailed.
You may also preview an invoice in PDF format by pressing the blue “Preview” button in the center of the hovering toolbar.
Please note that saving an invoice will convert the draft to a real invoice and change the status to “Open” An “Open” invoice status indicates that it is a real invoice and no longer a draft. Financial transactions do not occur until an invoice is saved and in the “Open” status.
⚠️ Please note that saving an invoice will use any case balances and apply AutoPayment for the invoice from any case(s) included in the invoice if you have that feature activated. If there is an available account balance to use with AutoPay, then Law Ruler will display the available transactions and give you the option to continue with or without AutoPay. To learn more about AutoPayment of invoices using an open balance, please refer to the Billing Settings for AutoPay from Client Trust and/or Operating Accounts and the AutoPayment sections.
If you need to cancel the invoice, you will press the red “Cancel” button in the hovering toolbar on the bottom left corner of your screen. If you do cancel an invoice, then the time entries and expenses that were added to the invoice will be reversed to unbilled status and be available to create a new invoice.
Your Firm’s Logo and Contact Information on Invoices
In the top-left corner of the invoice, the firm logo is automatically inserted for every new invoice. Your firm logo automatically resizes to fit in the invoice. Below the logo, your firm’s contact information will appear.
If you need to make any changes to your firm’s contact information, then please go to the “Setup” > “Firm Settings” screen. Any changes to your firm’s address, contact information, or logo will only affect new invoices after the changes are made and not affect any previously created invoices.
Invoice Status, Invoice Date, Due Date, Amount Due
The “Invoice Status” appears at the top-right of each invoice in a color-coded ribbon.
The “Invoice Status” ribbon will automatically update itself and change colors based on what is happening inside of the invoice as follows:
- Draft, Awaiting Approval, Approved = Yellow background in the ribbon
- Open (Not Sent), Open (Sent), Partial Payment, Paid = Green background in the ribbon
- Voided = Red background in ribbon
If you would like to edit the “Invoice Date” or “Due Date” of the invoice, then click on the date picker to the right of those fields. These fields are located on the right side of the invoice as shown.
Also, the total “Amount Due” will be shown below the “Due Date” in each invoice in a larger-size font.
Managing Services and Expenses in an Invoice
Next, are the “Services” and “Expenses” grids. The “Services” grid is where all time entries go and will always be listed above the “Expenses” grid.
Any changes made to “Services” and “Expenses” in a real invoice will auto-update in the case(s) where those line items exist. This is a shortcut that is meant to save you time. Also, the Law Ruler “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” also allows you to add or remove time entries or expenses at your leisure.
Please note that changes made to a “Draft” invoice are not saved until you press the “Save” button. If you are editing “Services” and “Expenses” inside of a “Draft” invoice and do not save the changes then they will not save or affect the case(s).
There is complete flexibility in the “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” One scenario is if you feel that the invoice is too much money for a client. You may want to partial bill a time entry or expense and adjust the “Billed” amount to do a partial bill. This is simple and easy to do in Law Ruler.
If you would like to “Edit” a line item row in the invoice editor, then click the green “Edit” icon to edit. Then, press the green “Save” button to accept the changes. Or, press the gray “Cancel” button to cancel the changes.
Also, if you need to remove a time entry or expense from an invoice, then click the red “Remove” icon. This will not do any harm and will not delete the time entry or expense from the case. It will simply hide it from the invoice and could be put back later at any time.
Click “OK” to remove the “Retainer” line item from our example.
If you make a mistake and remove a time entry or expense by accident, then it is easy to add it back. To add a removed time entry or expense back to an invoice, you will click the “Show Not Billed” filter above each grid.
Then you will pick the time entry or expense that you would like to add back to the invoice. Click the blue “+” plus button on any line item to add it back to the invoice.
Tax, Interest, and Total in Invoices
Below the “Expenses” grid, you will see the fields for “Tax”, “Interest” and “Total”. These fields will automatically update based on what you have configured in “Billing Settings” if you change tax or interest or not, and what tax or APR interest rate that you have as a default if any. Law Ruler will automatically calculate the tax or interest for you if you have this setting activated.
Of note, you may apply custom settings for each invoice without affecting your default settings in “Billing Settings” by adjusting the “Invoice Settings” at the bottom of the Law Ruler “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor”
Customer Notes and Terms and Conditions
The “Message on Invoice” and “Terms and Conditions” boxes are below the “Total” field as shown. The “Message on Invoice” box will automatically add the default “Message on Invoice” that you configured in the Law Ruler “Billing Settings” screen. Law Ruler comes pre-configured with the default customer note of “Thank you for your business and have a nice day!”
If you would like to add a custom customer note for this invoice, add emojis 🤗, edit the colors, or perform other edits, then feel free to make any edits as needed inside of each box. The “Message on Invoice” is the customer notes field. It will print slightly differently on the client invoice under the header of “Notes” and will not include the edit toolbar or the words “Message on Invoice”
To the right, there is the “Terms and Conditions” box that will automatically add the default “Terms and Conditions” that you configured in the Law Ruler “Billing Settings” screen. Law Ruler comes pre-configured without any content for this field. If you would like to add custom terms and conditions for this invoice, then feel free to make edits as needed. It will print slightly differently on the client invoice and will not include the edit toolbar.
The printed version of a real invoice is shown below for customer notes and your terms and conditions:
Custom Invoice Settings for Each Invoice
Need to make custom changes to an invoice? The “Invoice Settings” is located at the bottom of each invoice in the Law Ruler “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor”
The custom “Invoice Settings” controls allow you to make any on-the-fly custom changes that will only affect this one invoice such as:
- Turn “Charge Tax” On/Off
- Edit the “Tax Rate to Apply” %
- Turn on “Charge Interest” On/Off. Please note that APR interest is charged daily but will not accrue until the invoice is considered late, thus the day *after* the “Due Date”
- Edit the “Interest Rate for Past Due Invoices” %
- Turn “Use the Operating Account to Pay this Invoice” AutoPay feature: “On/Off”
- 💲 Using this feature will allow AutoPayment from the Operating Account for the case(s) if there is an available balance to apply. This will automatically transfer any available funds from the client trust account if you have this activated. If there is an available account balance to use with AutoPay, then Law Ruler will display the available transactions and give you the option to continue with or without AutoPay.
- Turn “Use the Trust Account to Pay this Invoice” AutoPay feature: “On/Off”
- 💲 Using this feature will allow AutoPayment from the Client Trust Account for the case(s) if there is an available balance to apply. We do not recommend AutoPayment from IOLTA client trust accounts. If there is an available account balance to use with AutoPay, then Law Ruler will display the available transactions and give you the option to continue with or without AutoPay.
- Edit “Client Statement of Account on Invoices” to show “Account Details” which is all transactions and the account balances or “Account Summary” which is balances only.
- “Show Trust Account History” to turn this “On/Off”
- “Show Operating Account History” to turn this “On/Off”
Feel free to make any changes and they will take effect inside of the invoice that you are editing.
If you need to edit your default invoice settings, then you would go into “Setup” then click on “Billing Settings” If you do not have admin or accounting user permissions, then you will not see these options so please contact your IT department or firm administrator if you would like to enable this feature.
Please note that any changes made to the default settings in “Billing Settings” will only affect future invoices, not invoices before the default settings are modified.
AutoPayment and Financial Transactions When Invoices are Saved
One of the many conveniences of the Law Ruler “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” is the AutoPayment feature. This time-saving feature will allow your firm to automatically pay invoices if there is an available balance in the client trust or operating accounts for any cases that are included in the invoice.
⚠️ Please note, the AutoPayment feature will only work if there is an available balance in the permitted trust or operating accounts for the case. In our example below, we will assume that there is a 5,000.00 balance in trust. If there is an available account balance to use with AutoPay, then Law Ruler will display the available transactions and give you the option to continue with or without AutoPay.
Let’s drill down and look at this line by line to fully understand the mechanics of this feature. Please click on the “Bank Transactions” tab in the top navbar menu in your case.
First, we need to make sure the “Deposit” transaction was completed before we attempt to apply AutoPayment. Because if we have not done that first, there may not be any funds in the client trust account.
If AutoPayment is not enabled from the client trust account, then the Law Ruler system will know that in order to AutoPay this invoice, it will need to do a series of “Transfer” transactions from trust to the operating account, before it can actually AutoPay this invoice from the operating account.
Please review the four “Transfer” transactions in the screenshot below. All four of these “Transfer” transactions were applied to the ledger without the user having to do anything other than press “Save” in the invoice to convert it from a draft to a real invoice.
Each “Transfer” transaction has two parts:
- A withdrawal transaction from the client trust account
- A deposit transaction into the operating account
Now, let’s examine the “Payment” transactions that were applied to the ledger. In the screenshot example below, you will see two “Payment” transactions that were paid by “Invoice # 6” The two “Payment” transactions for 1,500.00 and 400.00 were for the two expense line items totaling 1,900.00.
All four “Transfer” transactions and both “Payment” transactions were performed automatically by the Law Ruler “Easy-to-Use Invoice Editor” using the AutoPayment feature. Think of how much time this will save you. Even better, by turning “Off” AutoPayment from the client trust account in “Billing Settings” you will not have to worry about errors being made by newer employees who are not familiar with best practices regarding client trust accounting.
Since the AutoPayment feature was successfully completed, the invoice will show as “Paid” with a green ribbon per the below screenshot. The “Amount Due” for the invoice is now 0.00 and you are all set.
Thank you very much for choosing Law Ruler!