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Software donation makes a difference through technology

Loyola announcement - February 10, 2003

After almost a decade of working with attorneys and their staffs in the effort to use accounting software, Ann McMahon of Professional Publications Services, Inc. (Pro Pubs), dealer for TABS and Practice-Master, kept seeing the same problems. She saw attorneys who just did not understand accounting. “Because of this lack of understanding,” says Ann, “they failed to hire the right support staff for jobs like billing, payments, and accounts receivable. They then further aggravated the problem by making unreasonable demands on staff through their lack of understanding of what was required. Finally, down the road, they found themselves losing significant amounts of money or having money stolen from them. They just did not grasp how important accounting activities were to their own survival.”

After years of this familiar scenario, McMahon began looking for a way to make a difference. She reasoned that accounting needed to be part of legal education just like filing a motion or handling a jury. Toward that end, she made a call in 1997 to the law clinic at the School of Law and met then-acting director, clinical professor Luz M. Molina.

Molina had the same concerns. “The law clinic’s purpose is to offer legal services to the indigent and to provide law students with real-world experience at the same time. I was eager to work with Ann because I wanted to see the students begin to understand the concept of billable time, learn to enter their time into software as they developed their cases, and also keep contemporaneous case diary entries. Our challenge was how to get this done with the limited budget of the law clinic.”

When requests for outside financial help to achieve the goal fell on deaf ears, the two women decided to make it happen on their own. Molina was able to convince the law school to purchase PracticeMaster (then Case Master) practice management software from Pro Pubs, as well as services to train staff in the use of PracticeMaster, and to establish various custom reports in the software to allow the clinical professors to keep tabs on their students and cases.

With PracticeMaster in place, McMahon’s company, Pro Pubs, provided a $1,400 donation in 2001 to Loyola that made the purchase of TABS time and bill-ing software possible. TABS would account for student attorney time and productivity.

However, more licenses were needed for all students and staff to utilize, not only TABS, but the PracticeMaster software.

PracticeMaster by this time offered the attractive feature of allowing students to take some of their case information like the case diaries with them on their laptops and then synchronize their case information with the school’s main installation on the campus network upon their return. It was at this point that McMahon contacted Software Technology, Inc. (STI), manufacturers of TABS and PracticeMaster and asked if they could help.

The response of Ken Merkt, executive vice president of STI, was immediate. “We are glad to donate to Loyola the increase in TABS and PracticeMaster licenses,” said Merkt. The STI donation amounted to $7,100 in software licenses and a $2,055 annual amount for support and mainten-ance, leaving Loyola to pay only the $995 annual balance. Merkt states that “this will equal to an ‘in-kind’ donation of $2,055 annually and a savings this year of $9,155.”

The “in-kind” donations also continue from Pro Pubs as McMahon provides time-entry training during orientation for new law clinic students as well as assisting Molina with on-site support of TABS and PracticeMaster. Loyola’s law school can now proudly state that it is the only law school in the southeast offering its students a chance to learn accounting as a vital part of their daily practice.

“Here at Loyola,” says Molina, “education is person centered. We strive to bring to life a concern for justice and service to the larger community; this is the Jesuit ideal. We give our students the tools to succeed as lawyers, and instill in them the belief that with that success they must help others. Learning the importance and proper use of software in the practice of law will go far to help our students become competent and attain this ideal.”

For information on this technology, contact Software Technology, Inc., at www.stilegal.com, (402) 424-1440, 1646 Cushman Drive, Lincoln, NE 68512, or Professional Publications Services, Inc., Pro Pubs, at www.propubs.net, (225) 346-0707, 1646 Belmont Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

— Ann McMahon, Professional Publications Services, Inc., and Luz M. Molina, School of Law Professor