LeanLaw and QuickBooks Online Advanced: User Roles and Permissions

One of the beauties of having QuickBooks Online Advanced and LeanLaw as a software partnership is the ability to have streamlined user functionality. 

As an accountant, we always jokingly say,  

Lynda Artesani  Accountant
"If we can keep the client out of the accounting software, that's the best use case scenario."

 With working with mid-market law firms, there are a lot of working parts. I might have someone or multiple staff in charge of accounts receivable. There may be a payroll clerk. I might have someone who takes the lead on accounts payable. And then, I may have multiple partners who want to review the accounting. This may include some monthly financial board meetings.

Additionally, there may be multiple attorneys on staff that need to access the time in the billing software. When we begin our engagement with the firm, we like to create a list of all the people who need access. This list in LeanLaw becomes invaluable.  Using this software, we can give specific user permissions in the time in billing software only. We will make this easy because I can customize the user capabilities to the firm.

Have you ever had a circumstance where the client at the law firm doesn't want their employees to see the payroll? Or have you had a law firm with a partner that doesn't want anyone in accounts receivable to see anything but accounts receivable and sales transactions? Employee visibility or lack thereof is where the user roles in QuickBooks become powerful.

QuickBooks User Permissions

Here's an example of user roles that you can create using the standardized default settings. Only the primary admin can manage users.

To add users

Go to the Gear, then select Manage Users. Select the Roles tab, then select Add role. Choose what the user role is, then select Next. Enter a role name and description.

But my favorite part is the view.  You can preview what you can see from the user’s perspective.  What can they “see” and what can they not see. Select Preview role. Then select OK when you've read the preview info.

View only user 

It means just that. The user can view the data and cannot make any transactions or changes. Sometimes this user is a partner. They want to have the capability of looking around, but they are fearful of touching or breaking anything. So we get them a view-only user role. We have found that using customer reports and emailing them is the best workaround for someone in the view-only situation that wants a monthly report. A typical use case for this type of user is in a multi-partner firm. The lead partner has full access as a primary user, but the other partners want to view the data.

Accounts receivable or sales

We can strip this role down to just specifically entering the money received at the firm and we have done this in the past. We've used this for a receptionist at an immigration firm who is just collecting payments and needs to create sales receipts. We have used this for someone who completes the entire action of handling the accounts receivable. For a lot of these mid-market firms, multiple people are handling the sales. Being able to open up the user role and make it specific for the firm has been pivotal.  This can also be streamlined to a location-specific user. 

Accounts payable

A payroll clerk is someone who tends to handle all the accounts payable in the firm. We will use Dext as our preferred software to manage the receipts and automate some accounts payable entries. We use Melio for processing bill payments. It's a pretty automated system, but most firms will have many people supplying one person with the receipts for the client costs or a matter cost. Dext is that perfect use case for this.


The administrator type is the user role for the controller or the bookkeeper on staff. I need to see the picture, enter journal entries, etc.

Custom user

Yes, you can create your own customized role. Name that role what you need to name it.  You can filter it down to the exact permissions you desire for the specific firm.

Deleting a User

One note about deleting a user from QuickBooks, you are removing the name from the file. It's better to inactivate than remove it altogether. If you delete a user, it will create a mess in your audit log.

LeanLaw user permissions

LeanLaw has a very similar situation and user roles. Custom is only a function in their Pro version.  

They have multiple user types to choose from.  The job title at the firm may not align with the name of the user type in LeanLaw.  Let's break them down:


An operator is typically a business manager, bookkeeper, or assistant of a firm. They will have access to all billing information but will not normally be responsible for matters.


Attorneys can be associates or partners at a firm. They will have access to billing information and reporting for matters they are involved with, but not for the firm as a whole.


They will have access to billing information and reporting for matters they are involved with, but not for the firm as a whole.


A principal is typically a managing partner or a partner in a firm. They will have access to billing information and reporting for matters. They will also have access to the overall financials for the firm.


A timekeeper is a person who will not have access to billing information and reporting, typically associates, contractors, or staff. This can be overridden for specific matters.

Timekeeper +

A Time Keeper who can also see and enter other users' time.


Accountants have access to all billing information for the firm.  Something to note, you can be invited without having access to all matters, and also the invitee could invite you without access to firm settings.  You may want to request access if you are going to need to finesse the settings for your client or invite a member of your team. 

Customizable Role

Here is a link that will take you visually through the steps.

As you can see, the beauty of purchasing this product is that the LeanLaw Pro product is definitely worth the increase in the monthly fee if you need to be specific on what areas of the product you want a user to access.

You can set it in LeanLaw, where the user can only see specific matters. There is a small box you can set up the user that says, "view all matters" or has access to all matters. It's up boxes and checks the user will be very restricted. Additionally, be sure when you create the users in LeanLaw, you do so by fully entering your initials and attaching a class if you're using class coding in QuickBooks Online Advanced.

When you invite a user in to start to track time in their own files or matters, It's essential to have that set up in place at the very beginning. If you are using class coding and you don't create the class and connect in LeanLaw, you'll find that you're having non-specified matters when you push the invoices through, and you'll have to do a minor cleanup using the utility reclassification to classify that person's matters because set up of the user role in LeanLaw is incomplete.  LeanLaw also gets into some settings like responsible attorney and originating attorney.  There are settings you may need to be turned on to be able to access the compensation reporting.

Another thing to be cautious of is when someone leaves the law firm. If you delete the user because you want to remove that person's access to your company file, be very wary of the ramifications of calculating any compensation or bonuses based on this person's work. Deleting a user should be done carefully. If you delete a user LeanLaw or stop that person's access, contact LeanLaw and tell them to make the user non-billable; we have had to do that at firms for the interim month between when the new person starts and when the last attorney left. Often, the matters will get reassigned, and if you remove a user, you're removing that person's name from the account. If you remove a user or timekeeper, or attorney from the system and change to a new user, it updates all the old matters.  A way to stop that is to set a password in QuickBooks to eliminate those changes happening from LeanLaw globally.

This concludes the article on users and roles in QuickBooks and LeanLaw.  I hope it helps you refine the users at your law firm or helps your accounting firm make the right decisions for your clients.