Data visualization of legal fees, billing, and amounts left in trust

I created this interactive report using Excel and Power BI to show one possible solution for attorneys who want to see information about their clients, the legal fees they incur, and other information about their case. Although this data is hypothetical, a report like this could be beneficial to the attorney and law firm.

When viewing this report on this website, you can click on the “Fit to page” button located on the bottom right side of the report, zoom in and out of it, and click anywhere in the report to see how the data changes.

In most lawsuits, a client pays an attorney a large dollar amount, called a retainer, at the start of the case, and this money is put into a trust bank account. Attorneys then bill the client for the work done on their case. But attorneys that handle client cases are often one-step removed from the amount a client has left in the trust account. They may not handle the billing and collection of finances from the client, someone else in the firm may do this.

But an attorney may want to know how much is left in the trust account to answer questions of what next steps to take in the case. The report I’ve created can quickly answer many questions the attorney has relating to this.

This report is interactive, and an attorney can click through it to see what legal activities are being performed for the client each month, how much they total, when a trust account has a balance less than a certain amount and should be replenished, when a retainer is paid and more.

I like giving short directions with my Power BI reports because I want the user to understand how to use the visual in order to get the information they want quickly. I also make my reports clean in terms of design; although I appreciate art, data visualizations should be useful and easy to use. Additionally, I like reports that have contact information showing how the user can get help or ask questions about the report. As an attorney myself, I know that getting the information I need quickly is very important.

Power BI is such a great software to use for creating interactive reports, however, the default design elements are not wonderful. Having taught design when I was a professor, I know that color choices can communicate certain information.

For this report, I wanted the colors to mean certain things. So in the table that shows amounts left in trust, blue numbers mean a client has more than $2000 in their trust account. Red numbers mean the trust account balance is getting low, and the attorney may need to ask for another retainer, change how the case is being handled, etc.

For the bar and pie charts, I wanted to group certain legal work together. Since I’ve practiced law, I know that Court Appearances and Travel are billed on the same day. And things like Discovery, Research, and Depositions are similar types of legal work. Whenever I’ve communicated with a client or opposing counsel, I needed to review the file and often did drafting work to motions after our discussions.

So I went to Adobe’s Color Wheel (available here: https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel) and selected a double split complementary color scheme. Then I opened the pallete in Adobe Photoshop and and added additional colors there. The result was this color palette:

color pallette

I really enjoyed building this report. If you have any questions about it, or the process, feel free to email me at sarakubikphd@gmail.com

Sara Kubik