It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
When Charles Dickens wrote that line to open his classic A Tale of Two Cities, he was using it to contrast the prosperity of 18th century London with the chaos of Paris during the French Revolution.
But he also could have been talking about your accounts receivable and invoicing processes.
Okay, okay. Managing your law firm’s billing isn’t quite the same thing as facing the guillotine, but it definitely comes with a sense of dread that outweighs the joy of receiving payments.
Unless all your clients are on retainers, there are a number of reasons legal invoicing is complicated. Even attorneys who are great at accurately drafting prebills (an invoice with estimated fees) almost always have to make adjustments (up or down) at the end of the month due to changes in court dates, discovery needs, contract revisions, etc.
These natural variations in legal workflows make automation difficult, which means monthly billing can truly feel like the worst of times. On the flip side, getting those invoices paid in a timely manner (the best of times!) is critical to managing your practice’s cash flow.
Luckily, Rocket Matter’s legal practice management platform allows you to streamline every part of the billing process. From easier time and expense capture to batch billing and online payments, our law firm automation program and project management tools can turn billing into a breeze instead of a burden.
Time tracking is probably the biggest challenge in legal billing, regardless of your firm’s size. Too many attorneys and their administrative staff end up wasting precious hours every month going through their email inbox and calendar to retroactively document their hours, which is both inefficient and incredibly annoying.
Our proprietary Bill-As-You-Work™ function prompts users to add a time entry every time an event is added to the calendar, a task is created, or case notes are added. Once the task is completed, time assigned can be edited with just two clicks. This feature works even when multitasking across multiple case matters or tasks, which greatly simplifies the process of creating and updating invoices accurately.
Mobile time and expense capture
Failing to capture all billable time or expense reimbursement will drag down your bottom line faster than a ton of bricks. When this failure becomes a consistent pattern, two problems emerge.
First, your practice will likely not be bringing in enough revenue to cover expenses. Second, you create and reinforce your clients’ unrealistic expectations for the cost of quality representation. Billing correctly from the start requires organization, but it’s easier than changing processes halfway through a case and having to explain to your client why the same amount of work is significantly more expensive than it used to be.
Starting timers and registering expenses from any location is easy with the Rocket Matter app. When combined with Bill-as-you-Work™, it will take you less time to generate more accurate invoices.
Better time tracking will simplify your professional life, but updating your billing processes is where the real efficiency magic lies.
Batch billing, also known as batch invoicing, is a semi-automated process that allows you to generate multiple invoices simultaneously. Instead of manually inputting the same information into individual invoices, batch billing saves time by assigning similar products, services, or quantities to groups or types of customers all at once.
The right software will also allow your firm to make the shift to paperless prebills, so you can review your invoices all at once, make any adjustments you need to make, and then print or email all of your invoices from a single screen. This not only saves your firm huge amounts of printing (and printing costs) but also significantly streamlines the process of reviewing and sending your invoices.
Once you get batch invoicing set up, this process can also reduce the frequency of errors in your invoicing. Fewer errors means fewer escalations. Fewer escalations means more saved admin time. And more saved admin time means everyone has more time for the tasks that bring money through the door.
Who does batch billing work for?
Batch billing works well for firms whose clients are:
- Charged a similar amount each month
- Close to the same size
- Signed up for a similar scope of services
- On a retainer
Your firm can save time with batch billing even if your clients only tick one of these boxes.
How does batch invoicing help with managing cash flow?
Hanging on to invoices until the end of the month can feel dangerous. After all, the time savings that come from batch billing won’t do you much good if you can’t keep the lights on. If your firm is new or struggling, batching your invoices may not seem feasible.
While we understand that it’s incredibly tempting to immediately invoice your clients every time you finish a project, working to build up a small cash cushion so you can support batch billing is a long-term investment in your success by ensuring your processes:
- Can grow with you in an agile way
- Are compliant with accounting standards and financial management best practices
- Provide clients with consistent payment due dates and timelines
- Allow time for regular follow-ups on overdue accounts
Combined, these benefits become a powerful tool for regulating your cash flow.
Your firm will be able to predict monthly revenue more accurately and budget more effectively to stay profitable—and since your clients are being billed consistently on a predictable schedule, they’re more likely to pay their bills in a timely manner without the need for multiple follow-ups. Sending your invoices at the same time each month also makes it easier to schedule regular, automated reminders for unpaid invoices on a specified date (say, three weeks after your invoices go out).
The end result? Your firm will be able to boost realization rates and collect payments more quickly while also significantly reducing the amount of time you spend on billing.
If your firm is really looking to get the most out of the switch to batch billing, you should also consider implementing online credit card payment processing, so your clients can pay their bills conveniently from any device, including mobile phones. By making it easier for clients to pay, online payment processing can significantly speed up the time it takes to receive payment on your invoices and further optimize your cash flows.
And with a legal-specific payment solution like Rocket Matter Pay, your firm can implement credit card processing without the risk of violating Bar trust accounting rules.
Batch billing with Rocket Matter
Rocket Matter has spent the last 15 years helping lawyers run successful businesses. Unlike other invoicing software programs, Rocket Matter Pay was specifically designed with attorneys in mind. Our product is so effective that some of our clients can generate invoices for their entire client list in 30 minutes!
In addition to the traditional benefits you would expect to see from batch billing, our invoicing tools can:
- Create invoices in PDF, Word, WordPerfect, and Excel formats
- Store invoices online in a searchable database so you can easily review billing histories
- Be customized with your firm’s branding (logo, colors, fonts, etc.), remittance stubs, and to fit your preferred envelope size
- Deliver electronic invoices
- Support recurring billing and payment plans
All of these benefits also come with Rocket Matter’s powerful project management, calendaring, matter management, budget tracking, and business intelligence capabilities to help you to focus on what matters most—your clients.