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Top 5 Payroll Platforms for Immigration Lawyers

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Fri Apr 01 2022 12 min read

Payroll is an essential part of running an immigration law firm. Paying your employees on time and in a way that is reliable and easy to manage is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with your employees and contractors and reinforcing their sense of security. It also allows you, whether you’re a law firm owner or partner handling payroll, or work at a law firm and support operations, to stay compliant with tax and accounting rules.

Like with most things, technology has improved payroll and has made it easier than ever to manage employees, pay them, track salaries and taxes, and more. But this also means that there are many options to choose from, and making the right choice for your immigration law firm can be tough, especially with no guidance.

That’s what this article is about - diving into the top five payroll solutions that immigration lawyers have reported using. Of course this list isn’t exhaustive and there may be other platforms that are great as well. But we hope this article can at least be a starting point for you as you build out your immigration law firm’s payroll process.

Here are 5 payroll platforms that immigration lawyers use

Let’s dive into the top 5 payroll platforms that immigration lawyers have reported using.

1. SurePayroll

This is one of the oldest payroll providers on our list: its longevity on the market speaks well of its reliability as a payroll solution for small businesses. SurePayroll’s features include, but are not limited to: 

  • Managing employee records
  • Processing payroll
  • Filing taxes (although W-2s and 1099s cost extra)
  • Legal compliance

SurePayroll offers a two month free trial to explore different features. Given that there are additional fees for specific services like time clock integration, it could be an opportunity to try the service out and see if you need to add extras to your subscription, and whether it’s cost effective for your firm. 

There are two tiers in the SurePayroll subscription model: 

  • SurePayroll Full-Service: in this tier, you pay a base fee of $29.99 a month, plus $5 per employee per month. In this tier, you will need to pay additional fees for your W-2s and 1099s, which are offered for free in other services we will discuss below, so that’s something to consider. A big plus of this version is that it automatically submits payroll taxes. Full-Service also offers a two-day payroll processing service, which is half the time of the standard four-day processing timeframe for Self-Service.
  • SurePayroll Self-Service: in this tier, you pay $19.99 a month for your base fee, and $4 per employee per month. While Self-Service includes everything in Full-Service, you do have to prepare your own payroll taxes. 

Two-day processing outside of the Full-Service plan costs an extra $4.99 a month. 

Pros and Cons of SurePayroll: 

Biggest pro: Clear onboarding process. PC Mag explains that the enrollment wizard provides step-by-step instructions to ensure you onboard all your employees correctly, with easy navigation to move back and forth between sections. While it may be a multi-step process, the detail in the instructions the payroll wizard provides allows you to follow clear steps that minimize errors. 

Biggest con: The extra fees for services in some of the subscription plans that you absolutely need to be able to access as part of a payroll provider, such as payroll taxes, make SurePayroll a provider that needs to be evaluated carefully. Depending on your firm’s needs, the extra fees may not justify the price you pay versus the number of employees you serve. In addition, having to pay for each employee added means that your costs to maintain this payroll provider could balloon over time, should your firm grow to a large number of employees.

Next, let’s talk about an option to supplement law firm accounting software: Gusto

2. Gusto:

This payroll system launched in 2012 and the initial goal of the founders was to create a system that would allow them to pay for themselves. Today, over 100,000 businesses use Gusto as their payroll provider. Gusto has four different plans for payroll, most of which have the same features, with some small differences depending on the plan: 

  • Core: This is Gusto’s “basic” payroll solution, which allows you to set up common payroll provider features like direct deposit, and run payroll reports. Direct deposit takes two days with this plan. Gusto Core also allows you to file your state and federal taxes, and issue benefits at this level. In addition, with Gusto Wallet, which is accessible at this level, your employees can see their payroll stubs and W-2s. Gusto Core costs $39 per month, plus $6 per employee. 
  • Complete: With Complete, you get all the features included in Core, with the additional plus of having next-day direct deposit. Gusto Complete also includes features such as time tracking, PTO requests, and electronic signature for documents. Another handy feature of Gusto Complete is the ability to send anonymous surveys to your employees and see their results over time. This could be a helpful feature for growing firms as you implement new policies and bring new members to the team. As the Gusto plans become more sophisticated when you move up tiers, higher tier plans include more backend support. 
  • Concierge: The most distinctive feature of Gusto Concierge is the dedicated support provided by an HR representative. Gusto Concierge clients also enjoy a dedicated phone line for customer support. This could be a plan to consider if your firm is sizable enough, but you’d rather outsource your HR management. Gusto Concierge has all the features available to the two plans below it, giving it all you need to run your payroll and assign benefits. Gusto Concierge also gives you access to their HR Resource Center, which updates you on law changes so you’re always in compliance, and also provides you with templates that can help you prepare for hiring. Gusto Concierge is $149 per month, plus $12 per employee. 
  • Contractor: A simplified version of Gusto which gives two-day deposit and allows you to pay per employee with no base fee. It’s a bare bones payroll administration solution that could be better suited to a lawyer that works solo but hires contractors for specific tasks from time to time. 

Pros and Cons of Gusto: 

Pros:

  • HR support and legal compliance monitoring for specific tiers.
  • Quick direct deposit turnaround, two-day being the slowest timeframe offered for direct deposit. 
  • Automatic tax filing.
  • Built-in integrations with multiple accounting softwares, such as Freshbooks, Intuit Quickbooks, and Xero. 

Cons:

  • Not the most cost-effective depending on the number of employees you have. 
  • More tailored to larger firms; solo lawyers and small firms may find even the lowest tier being more than they need. 

You can see a more detailed review with comparisons on Gusto and other competitors here. 

3. QuickBooks

You may not know that Quickbooks, in addition to being an accounting software, has a payroll integration, but if you already use Quickbooks, this may be an easy add-on. QuickBooks Payroll is one of the products offered with QuickBooks online, which is why, for the sake of simplicity, if you have QuickBooks for your accounting, you may want to add the payroll integration and keep it all in one system.

Even if you don’t have QuickBooks online, you can choose to run your payroll using QuickBooks by itself. If you do have QuickBooks online, you can also integrate QuickBooks with Docketwise for an even more streamlined experience if you’re a Docketwise user, which would allow you to combine your immigration law case management with the accounting features of QuickBooks, and payroll should you choose to add it. Let’s go over the payroll component of Quickbooks. 

QuickBooks Payroll has three subscription levels: 

  • QuickBooks Payroll Core: This is the most affordable subscription of QuickBooks Payroll at $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month.  With QuickBooks Payroll Core, you can do unlimited payroll runs, deductions, reports, and automatic tax fillings. What we see is that as the levels go up and become more expensive, you get additional features related to support and timeframe for direct deposits, much like Gusto. 
  • QuickBooks Payroll Premium: Cost increases significantly at this level, rising to $75 per month and $8 per employee per month. At this subscription level, you can add features like worker’s compensation management and time-tracking, while receiving support from the Quickbooks HR Support Center. If consistent support is important to you, Elite may be the subscription tier for you. 
  • QuickBooks Payroll Elite: At $125 per month, plus $10 per employee per month, QuickBooks Payroll Elite offers the highest level of support from the QuickBooks HR Support Center with 24-hour assistance, a remote HR advisor, and protection against tax penalties. 

Overall, you should be able to set up your payroll from scratch with QuickBooks, as it is a fairly intuitive process. Some information is mandatory, but even if you haven’t finished setting up absolutely everything, you could still run your payroll using QuickBooks if you’re pressed for time because you just got the software and your next payroll date is looming. If you have QuickBooks online, getting familiar with QuickBooks Payroll won’t be too terribly difficult, as the layout is very similar to QuickBooks online. 

Pros and Cons of QuickBooks Payroll: 

Pros

  • Easy setup and integrations for those familiar with QuickBooks
  • Able to start running your payroll without being completely set up
  • Setup isn’t overly complicated, making it fairly user-friendly for the non tech-savvy. 

Cons

  • Cost can be a challenge, or simply not justifiable for firms of certain sizes.
  • While setup is user-friendly, it does require a lot of manual entry. If you have a large firm, this can be a time-consuming step. 
  • Some extra costs to send tax forms to the IRS, which are automatically filed through other programs. 

Having the backup of a large company like Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, can be a seal of validation for some, and a drawback for others. If you are looking for a payroll provider that is a bit more like a small business, you may want to consider Payrolls Plus, a smaller payroll provider based in Florida.

4. Payrolls Plus

Payrolls Plus was founded by accountants with a combined 50 years of experience in accounting and payroll management. Payrolls Plus focuses on providing four core services through its platform: Human resources management, payroll services, tax filing, and electronic timekeeping. The Payrolls Plus platform includes tax management services, payroll services including direct deposit, electronic timekeeping, self service options for managers and employees, human resource management services including benefits administration, and many more. 

Pros and Cons of PayrollsPlus: 

Pros:

  • Personalized service and support thanks to the founders’ accounting experience. 
  • Direct phone support access for clients - no outsourced customer support to enhance the personalized service. 
  • Software is kept up to date with labor and tax law to ensure you’re always in compliance. 

Cons

  • Not a lot of customer reviews available. It may be difficult to gauge whether this platform is the best fit for you based on research. 
  • No trial period offered to test service out. 
  • “On the Go” platforms are not truly mobile - no access through mobile applications, only web-based. 

We’re going to finish up with a payroll provider you may know for other services, and may have used it before, for payroll or otherwise: ADP. 

4. ADP

ADP is known as an overall human resource management solution, and is used by both small businesses and multi-million dollar companies alike. Thanks to its experience with businesses of different sizes, it’s most likely that ADP will be able to accommodate your needs as a payroll provider. The newest plan that is advertised on the ADP website is Roll, which starts at $29 per month, plus $5 per employee. For businesses with fewer than 50 employees, ADP offers payroll plans through RUN, their small business division. Let’s go over the options under the RUN brand and Roll in more detail. 

  • ADP Roll: One of the simplest payroll provider platforms available, which can be run with a simple voice command. With a few questions, you can set up the payroll for your employees, with next-day direct deposit. Roll also offers access to your employees through their app, where they can see their payroll information. ADP Roll offers unlimited payroll runs, tax filing, and reports for new hires. Despite these unlimited features, ADP Roll offers limited support at this level (only business hours). 
  • Run ADP Essential: ADP advertises this as an ideal option for companies with 49 employees or less. Unlike Roll, this plan includes support at all hours. This plan includes setting up direct deposit, new hire reports, and files your payroll taxes. This plan also includes filing W-2s and 1099s, and the ability to add time tracking and benefits like healthcare. Employees also have access to their payroll information with the app, and companies receive marketing support through Upnetic, a marketing consulting firm offering website building, digital marketing strategizing, legal forms, and optimization of your business presence on Google. To find out about pricing in this plan, contact ADP for a quote specific to your business needs. 
  • Run ADP Enhanced: Also designed for companies with 50 employees or fewer, this is ADP’s most popular plan. In addition to all the payroll, taxes, and benefits, ADP Enhanced includes features that are focused on supporting growth. To help you in your hiring process, ADP Enhanced offers access to ZipRecuiter, one of the leading recruitment platforms, and allows you to manage your state unemployment insurance. Same as with ADP Essential, you need to contact ADP for a quote. 
  • Run ADP Complete: At this level, ADP provides additional support at the human resources level, giving you access to forms, support in creating an employee handbook, and live HR support. Access to marketing consulting from Upnetic is not available with this plan. 
  • Run ADP HR Pro: This is the program with the most features among the RUN product line, still for companies with 50 employees or fewer. In addition to all the features in all the different programs available in the RUN product line, HR Pro includes support from ADP Help Desk and free legal advice through Upnetic Legal Services. 

Given that ADP offers multiple programs, all with different features, it can be difficult to gauge the pros and cons among so many different programs within the same platform. But overall, there are distinguishable pros and cons from running your payroll through one of ADP’s platforms: 

Pros and Cons of ADP Payroll: 

Pros:

  • Highly customizable plans: ADP has a variety of features available to suit your payroll and years of experience in payroll and human resource management. 
  • Mobile-friendly, with Roll focusing on mobile device functionality. 
  • One platform to manage multiple aspects of your business beyond payroll, including hiring and onboarding new staff. 

Cons

  • Not very upfront about pricing. Unless you go with Roll, their “basic” plan, you have to get a quote based on your particular business needs to be able to know what pricing applies to you. 
  • Even in their more AI-based options, it doesn’t run automatically, needing at least a voice command to run payroll.
  • Not as affordable as other platforms. If price is either the determining factor on your choice of payroll provider, or one of them, there are other options that are more affordable, especially if your firm is small and you don’t see it growing very much beyond where it is right now. 

Choose Docketwise as your immigration law firm’s case management platform

As with most technology platforms, there are lots of options to choose from. Payroll is an important component of managing your business, and whatever you choose should save you time, and be reliable. Once you have your payroll set up, streamline your immigration law cases with Docketwise.

Docketwise is here to help you with immigration forms, tracking your cases, managing your clients, and more. And as you grow, Docketwise grows with you, allowing for integrations, adding users and more. Docketwise helps you stay up to date on all your immigration cases, communicate easily with your clients, and otherwise build and manage your immigration law firm. 

If you want to learn more about Docketwise, schedule a demo at the link below, or sign up for our Immigration Briefings newsletter for daily and weekly immigration updates!

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