4-Step Computer Security Upgrade
Learn to encrypt your files, secure your computer when using public Wi-Fi, enable two-factor authentication, and use good passwords.
CosmoLex is cloud-based practice management software for lawyers. It encompasses timekeeping, calendars, reminders, and, as of its most recent set of updates, billing and accounting. Its goal is to try to eliminate the time attorneys often spend — and the errors attorneys inadvertently create — manually moving data from billing to accounting and back again.
Getting Started With CosmoLex
CosmoLex’s signup is dead simple. Provide a name, email, and phone number, and you are set. A ubiquitous chat box will pop up asking you if you need any assistance or have any questions, but you do not need to interact with it in order to sign up. You can also request an on-demand demo. There is a free thirty-day trial period, and you do not need a credit card for the trial. This flexibility is refreshing for lawyers that would like to try out several types of case management software.
Migrating to CosmoLex
CosmoLex, unfortunately, remains less than ideal in terms of data migration. You can only import your contacts, and only via CSV, so if you have been using another practice management software, you will not be able to port that data to CosmoLex.
Confusingly, CosmoLex calls its advice on how to set up your accounting “migration.” Migration by CosmoLex is not used in a software context. Instead, CosmoLex shows you options on how to best enter your existing trust account data, how to enter starting balances from your previous third-party accounting software, and an explanation of some internal migration details. There is no way to actually import that data.
When you first start using CosmoLex, the software will have you enter your firm and bank information. You can enter account information for both an operational and a trust account. Optionally, you can set up information about your bank, your default check style (you can print checks from within the program), and the default payee when trust funds are drawn.
After you have done an initial setup, CosmoLex opens into its Dashboard screen, which gives you a snapshot of firm billing, timekeeping, balance, and client data. On this Dashboard and throughout, CosmoLex prioritizes accessing financial data, particularly data about what remains unbilled or unpaid.
Other sub-tabs on the Dashboard screen will give you your upcoming tasks and events and a stream of your recent activities, billing and otherwise. The at-a-glance interface is nice, and from the Dashboard, you can move everywhere else in the program from this start screen. Using the top tabs to move around the program is intuitive, stays out of your way, and means that you do not have to crawl back through nested folders or links to get back to your overview screens.
That top tab interface would benefit from a Clients tab; however, you can get to your clients via the Contact tab, and you can add clients from both the Contact and the Matter screens. Adding a client is simple and you can have multiple parties per client if you need to organize in that fashion.
Regrettably, CosmoLex only allows you to sync a Google Calendar, not an Outlook calendar, to its internal calendar (though that integration may happen in the future). CosmoLex will also let you link your Box and Dropbox accounts if you wish. If you are trying to move your practice entirely to the cloud, having that sort of document integration is key. You can also do things the old-fashioned way and just attach documents via CosmoLex, linking to the appropriate matter as you go.
CosmoLex has added support for tasks, which you locate by going to Activities then clicking Task. Tasks can be linked to a specific client or matter as billable or unbillable work, but that linkage is not necessary. Glancing at the Task screen will show you all the tasks for everyone.
There is also a neat new feature called “Workflow,” which allows you to add a series of tasks that are triggered by the completion of the previous task or another time frame you set. If your practice has recurring tasks that always need to occur in the same order, this is for you.
One of the major strengths of CosmoLex is its accommodation of the myriad of ways in which lawyers charge for services. Fixed rate? You can do that. Hourly? No problem. Need a localized billing rate that is different from your usual rate? Sure. Need to note that there is a retainer? Of course.
Generating an invoice is slightly less intuitive. You get to the Invoices screen via the Matter button on the main page, and that will take you to a different screen where you can generate the invoice. You can generate invoices through any time period you set.
However, after you click Generate, rather than getting a pop-up with the generated invoice, you get no information. CosmoLex is actually generating the invoice, but you won’t know that until you navigate back to the Activities screen, choose the Invoices tab, and then click the Action button. It is an odd hiccup in an otherwise smooth user experience. The invoices themselves can be customized with a cover page and your law firm’s logo, which is a nice feature.
Checks can be printed directly from CosmoLex, and you can specify if those are being drawn on your trust or operating account. From the Bank screen, you choose which account you will be paying funds from, which brings you to a transaction screen where you choose the checks you need to print. A pop-up box gives you a number of choices as to how the check should look.
Checks print as a PDF with the stub and design information you have selected. You can then print those on your computer checks.
The reporting system in CosmoLex is excellent. With one click, you can generate accounting reports, billing reports, bank reports, and trust account reports.1
With its most recent release, version 3.0, CosmoLex added fully integrated business accounting. The ledger system aims to remove your need to use QuickBooks or anything similar in an attempt to eliminate the time you spend importing and exporting data between your timekeeping software and your accounting software. The ledger system has a chart of accounts that you can use out of the box or customize.
You can also set it to automate your revenue allocation, paying liabilities and costs first, and track your income via practice area, just in case you are trying to figure out who in your firm is the best rainmaker.
If you are the kind of attorney that likes to crunch your financial data in every possible way, CosmoLex gives you exactly what you need. You can run reports that give you a high-level overview of your firm’s finances or drill down to matter-by-matter transactions. There is a wide variety of trust account reports you can run, and you can also run key banking and compliance reports such as three-way reconciliation. CosmoLex calls it “audit ready.” If your main concern in selecting software is that it helps you get a handle on knowing exactly where your firm is at financially and eliminating bouncing back and forth between an accounting program and a practice management program, CosmoLex would be a good choice.
Mobile Apps and Extensions
CosmoLex states it has a mobile app. In actuality, it is just a responsive mobile site. As responsive mobile sites have gotten more sophisticated, using them has gotten less arduous, and CosmoLex’s site is perfectly functional. Some users, however, prefer a dedicated app experience.
CosmoLex is browser-based and encrypts all traffic via 256-bit SSL, which is bank-level protection. All servers are located in the United States and, CosmoLex notes, are subject to U.S. jurisdiction, which may be a plus or a minus depending on your viewpoint. CosmoLex has McAfee run a third-party security audit every 24 hours.
CosmoLex also offers role-based user security, which means that different users can be assigned different access rights and roles. These roles can limit exposure of financial data within your firm.
Backing Up Your CosmoLex Data
CosmoLex backs up your data every four hours. They do not allow you to keep your own backup copy.
Evaluating CosmoLex for Your Practice
On the practice management side, CosmoLex is less robust than some of its counterparts, lacking Outlook integration and easy export of your own data. On the other hand, it is outstanding if you are looking to streamline the way in which your firm deals with its finances. However, switching to CosmoLex is not trivial. The fact that you cannot import your current financial data into CosmoLex may pose a problem for established attorneys. But if you are just starting out, the clean interface and traditional and trust accounting features may make CosmoLex appealing.
Recent CosmoLex News
- CosmoLex’s Client Portal Means Easy and Secure Communication With Your Clients
- Secure Communication Portals Are Becoming Common
- CosmoLex Adds Matter-Based Email for All Email Providers
Originally published 2014-10-21. Last updated 2015-08-10.
One quibble: when you generate a report, it does not show up as a pop-up that you can view at a glance. Instead, your report shows up as a PDF or Excel file. It would be preferable to have the report pop-up and give you the option to print or export instead. ↩