Legal Accounts Software from a Cashier’s Perspective

A helpful article for anyone setting up a new firm who may feel choosing an accounts package is low on their list of priorities.

In the grand scheme of starting a new law firm, choosing an accounting package can seem an insignificant task. However, choosing the right one for your firm is important, and can avoid the task dreaded by many firms of system changeover.
But where do you start? Cloud accounting, platforms, compliance, time saving, simple… the complete package! Is this the jargon that you’re up against?
Try breaking it down into a few basic areas: Usability ~ Functionality ~ Support & Development ~ Cost
Having experienced a number of legal software packages, I’m going to give my thoughts on a few you’ve probably come across.
Quill pinpoint, Seneca and Osprey are packages I work with on a daily basis. All vastly different, but used by very similar law firms. So what stands out for us?


As legal cashiers, we instinctively look at the accounting functions, but we understand that solicitors focus more on case management and ease of use. Seneca, not originally built for legal accounting, has been created with the users in mind. Every area of the package is linked, to make it the ‘go to’ application on your computer. From dictation, to word documents, emails, time entries, bill templates, and with keyboard shortcuts everywhere, they have focussed on usability to the max! I can see appeal in the colourful aesthetics and picture icons because it feels friendly, and slightly less intimidating. However, I feel they fall short slightly in the odd areas they have tried to be unique. Calling the Nominal Ledgers, Practice Ledgers? And naming the Matter Balance Listing, the Client Selection Report? This is not user friendly because they have changed generic terminology, making it more difficult for users to transfer knowledge from one package to another.

The overall functionality of Seneca is sound once you adapt to its quirks, and their development team are always making updates so will take any suggestions you may have and work with them. There are areas within the accounts that have been over complicated and the ability to edit the status of transactions is absurdly easy. I can change a disbursement from unpaid, to paid, to billed, to written off all within a couple of clicks. I thought this was a great function when first introduced to it, but a simple allocation error on there, will adjust the O/S bills figure, the unpaid bills report, the unbilled disbursement report, and all of this links to the amount you charge or chase your client for!

The method of bank reconciliation is very different to anything I’ve seen before. Any transaction linked to two bank accounts will show both sides ‘reconciled’ even when only one entry has been ‘presented’ which can be problematical until you get used to the system and you need to remain extremely vigilant thereafter.

From a reporting aspect, the software provides a lot as standard and the team will create reports to meet your requirements. However, in contrast to the interface, the reports are quite basic and unattractive, and can only be saved to Seneca as a CSV. File. Personally, I consider one massive weakness for Seneca is the inability to forward post. You cannot add any data for November, before completing the month end for October because it will affect your month end reports. There are many reasons that a month end may be delayed, and in turn, this means your current month postings are not up to date.


It’s likely you have heard of Quill Pinpoint; they are a market leader and constantly developing so I would qualify my review by saying that my experience may be of a dated version used by one of our long term clients! Quill Accounts and Seneca are similar packages in terms of their set up because they involve installation. The software is installed on machines in your office, and you only have access from those points. The data is stored on your local server, and can also be backed up by Quill themselves.

In my opinion Quill offers a reliable and effective accounting package. I feel it was created with accounting functions in mind and therefore meets our expectations as legal cashiers. The client ledgers are clear to read and show all the information you need. The posting screens mimic the ‘old’ paper slips – blue for debit, and pink for credit, making it user friendly and to save time, there is the option to bulk post transactions which is ideal for those repetitive monthly direct debits!

Within the utilities area, there is a transaction editor that I think is a very useful tool! You can use the transaction editor to amend the date, narrative or reference of a posting and it also allows you to search by these fields, which is a great tool for audit trail queries. However, the system does not offer an undo function so any errors in amount have to be corrected with a contra entry which can appear a little messy.

There are a good range of reports offered as standard, which provide all the information you may need for month end, year end and management reports. This system has no issues with forward posting because it can distinguish between the current month and the future postings, and so doesn’t influence any reporting.

I haven’t experienced any case management on Quill as it wasn’t included in the accounts software, but I believe they are now supplying a package called Interactive which combines all elements together. Nowadays, we all try to reduce paper usage by storing documents and filing correspondence digitally, so a sound management system is vital to meet these needs.


The Osprey Legal Cloud, created by Pracctice Ltd is another option for you to consider. As you’ll have guessed, it’s a cloud based package, meaning it’s accessed via an internet browser, from any device you can put your hand to. You are given a unique web address for your firm, each user has their own log in and away you go! For a new firm, this could reduce your hardware costs as no server is required, and you can rest assured your data is secure in the multiple location data centres Osprey manage.

This package is another ‘complete’ one – covering all areas of case management, accounts ledgers, reports and time recording. As I said, the case management is not often an area of interest for us, but the array of features this software offers is impressive. The package can be personalised by one of the team so that it meets your every need from first creating the client’s matter, to their final billing.
You can upload your standard letters to allow your client’s details to be merged seamlessly into documents such as your client care and money laundering letters. There is a file storage area in each client matter so that all documentation, including emails, can be filed per client and these are easily accessible for any other fee earners working on the same case. The time recording feature is very flexible, and allows you to transfer time entries from one matter to another, undo them, write off, and see billed time.

A unique feature that I think is extremely valuable is ‘key dates’, which is a very clever way of scheduling and monitoring workload. You can assign key dates for users across the firm, and they mark it complete once it’s done. Each task has a target date for completion and Osprey will amend the colour of the task depending on urgency. The key dates can be created for anything your firm needs, but particularly useful for recurring tasks such as the monthly billing or reminding to chase aged debt!

From an accounts perspective, and as outsourced legal cashiers Osprey works very well for us. The cloud access means we can avoid the laborious task of calling the IT company to attempt connection as we’d have our own user log in. The client ledgers are split into columns to show the office and client balance (as you’d expect) but also has a separate column for disbursements. This can take some getting used to for new users, but it is very helpful to distinguish between costs and disbursements owed. Osprey has some very good accounting functions in the variety of posting types it offers, and the bank reconciliation is very easy to navigate.

This is the only software I have experienced that also has the facility to produce a spreadsheet that you can upload to the LAA website for a monthly contract submission. This only applies to certain firms but it shows that Osprey are very tuned in to the processes of a law firm and saving time where possible.
The month end procedure is very straight forward as the software has a pre-set selection of reports you will need for your month end. It also has a good range of management reports, or, you can have a new report written specifically to meet your needs. This software allows you to forward post and has the ability to undo any incorrect postings, keeping your ledgers tidy, and clear to read.

I have always found Osprey support very responsive and helpful if you need their assistance, and they provide training to each user over the telephone, as well as online courses for a step by step guide.

I haven’t covered everything here, but hopefully it’s enough to give you a broad view on each software package and another user’s perspective that may (or may not!) be helpful. All of these packages are suitable and compliant for use in the legal sector, you just need to find the one best suited to you and your firm!

Eleanor Kite
Senior Legal Cashier & MAAT
The Law Factory LLP

Back to the top ↑