Legal Billing Rule #7: Avoid Communication Breakdown
The following post is an excerpt from our free e-book, Ridiculously Remarkable Legal Billing. Better billing practices improve your law firm and your life. Here’s the seventh one from the book we identify.
A regular, descriptive bill is a nice backstop to ensure that you are keeping the client well-informed and that you are on top of the matters at issue.
Doing good, quality legal work is really just a baseline – it’s assumed you’ll do good work. What makes the difference is listening well, knowing the client’s particular situation and history, returning calls and emails timely, avoiding surprises, and yes, sending bills on-time.
Good communication is at the core of any successful attorney-client relationship. In turn, good attorney-client relationships are a primary reason why lawyers get referrals. Frequently, it’s not the lawyer’s propensity to consistently “win” that builds trust, loyalty, and goodwill.
I saw this over and over again when I practiced law at my firm. Clients were clients for generations, and yes, good results were important, but that alone wasn’t the glue cementing that loyalty. I also experienced it myself in business when I retained my own lawyers.
There are lawyers who I really, really like, lawyers I enjoy working with even when the subject matter we’re working on is hardly fun. Yes, they’re smart, and yes, I think they do good work, but their propensity to keep me informed, to spend time brainstorming with me (without making me feel as though every single half-second will cost me), to always call me back in a reasonable time, and to always send me timely and fair bills is what makes me consistently use – and recommend – them.
Subject to applicable attorney-client privilege concerns, sending out a timely, concise, and well-detailed bill can memorialize value delivered in addition to serving as a chronological tally of what’s happening in a particular matter, at least from the client’s perspective.
Legal Billing Rule #4: You’ll Poison Relationships And Scare Away Business
Legal Billing Rule #6: Delaying Billing Is Like Giving Away Free Money