Billing conversations are critical to a positive relationship between law firms and clients and yet law firms are terrible at this.
So proclaims Alex Dimitrief, General Electric’s general counsel. And he should know: the company farms out work to more than 200 firms worldwide.
Mr. Dimitrier identified two primary legal billing problems: transparency and timeliness. Let’s take a look at each and how using a legal practice management system (LPM) helps to solve the problems.
Instead of shutting down operations for a few hours or even a couple of days at the end of the month to corral post-it notes and scrawls, and pull bits and pieces from memory to complete and send your bills out, you can accomplish this with a couple of clicks using practice management software.
Each task, email, telephone conversation, document preparation, anything related to a particular client and matter is automatically recorded as it occurs. At the end of the month, with a couple of clicks, you can send out a detailed invoice for services rendered.
Working on different matters for the same client with a combination of hourly, contingency, and flat fee billing? No problem, use the batch billing feature to process multiple invoices with corresponding details that clients appreciate.
Several months after the firm sent him a large bill which he had no problem paying since they earned it, Mr. Dimitrier received an additional bill. It was for a small amount, but had no explanation attached to it.
First of all, don’t nickel and dime your clients. And don’t compound the problem by punishing them for your mistake. It’ll raise red flags that you’re not diligent or even accurate in your billing practices.
When you don’t send bills in a timely fashion, you send your client a message that receiving prompt payment really isn’t all that important to you. – One of 15 Legal Billing Practices: The Good and the Bad.
LPMs allow you to immediately email detailed invoices to your client or send it to them via a portal. No more late or incomplete bills.
Still not convinced? Consider Mr. Dimitrier’s closing remark:
“In a world where there are so many lawyers competing for business, when a law firm isn’t as transparent as it should be and isn’t as timely as it should be, there are a lot of other firms to choose from.”
Additionally, you can offer personal touches that make a difference, like customizing your invoices with your logo, font, colors, etc., and prepare ongoing billing and productivity reports that corporate client are increasingly demanding.