7 tips for efficient and ethical invoicing in the practice of law

Asking a portion of these costs upfront will help you immediately establish a professional and mutually respectful relationship with your client.


Looking at the business world as a whole, we can easily see that law firms are in a unique position when it comes to dealing with their clients. While they operate much like any other firm in every other industry, the nature of the services law firms provide puts them a bit off their client’s radar compared to other more cautious companies. billing.

This can create a lot of uncertainty, delays, ghost images and strained relationships when it comes to billing those invoices. Keeping in mind that in the practice of law a good RC and a good customer experience are just as crucial as in any other industry, this is something you should avoid at all costs.

So let’s take a look at some ethical billing tips that should help your law firm maintain stable cash flow without disrupting relationships with your established and new clients.

Define the terms of the agreement during the first meeting

One of the best ways to take the guesswork out of dealing with your customers is to simply put it all out in the open when you first meet. This management of expectations will be important to all facets of your future relationship, but when it comes to the financial aspects of your business, clients should be made aware of the terms of the attorney-client fee agreement, the billing process, and all anticipated costs associated with legal representation. These initial terms must be precise, concise, set in stone, limited in time and leave nothing to free interpretation.

Put more effort into time management

Clock face; image by Age Barros, via Unsplash.com.

This is especially important because not all billing issues you will encounter are due to customer errors. Sometimes law firms simply struggle to send all invoices, follow up on comments, and effectively use billable hours. But, what can be measured can also be managed. So, if you want to innovate in your law firm, you can start using some of the latest time tracking tools like Timekeeper and try to use your productive billing hours more efficiently. Delivering invoices and getting them billed on time will instantly get you halfway through your treasury tasks.

Stay on your billing schedule

Being in the field of law, you need to be aware of the power of precedent. Once you’ve done that, whenever it gets easier and the more people realize it, the more they’ll expect you to make similar exceptions. The easiest cure for this common disease is not to set any precedent at all. As we mentioned in the first example, establish the billing rules in front of your customers and once done don’t stray from your billing schedule even though it can hurt the immediate relationships with the customers. You can reap the benefits in the long run.

Find a simplified way to process payments

Even with your in-store time management skills, it’s hard to escape the feeling that most of the time you spend processing payments will be wasted as the process itself is often slow, complicated, and awkward. Fortunately, these problems can be easily fixed with the help of a specialized third party. Namely, through the use of various current online billing services, clients enjoy a streamlined and unbiased way to pay their fees via interactive email and lawyers can process payments with just a few clicks. This streamlined process benefits both parties and removes many questions from the equation.

Ensure that the different teams follow the same unified procedures

Again, your goal is to eliminate space for precedents but also to allow your finance teams to operate under the same set of procedures and thus work faster with fewer errors. Granted, this can be difficult, especially if your law firm specializes in different areas of law (criminal law, corporate law, etc.) and works with different types of clients. But, if your billing, accounting, data entry, and retrieval procedures are thorough enough, and you provide sufficient training for your staff, you can make your bottom line largely automated and more efficient.

Conduct a diligent investigation of new customers

In some cases, despite their best intentions, your clients may not be able to financially support lengthy lawsuits. You should be aware of these cases before you even agree to work with them, so it is strongly recommended that you conduct a diligent investigation before committing to any case. Even if you may not be able to devote so much time and effort to new clients, a quick search with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) will give you a good idea of ​​your clients’ previous trades and location. history of possible fraud cases – not entirely ideal but it gives you a lot of work.

Collect upfront costs in advance

This may meet with some resistance, but it is far from unorthodox legal practice. While in many cases you cannot estimate the total costs of overall legal representation, you should have some idea of ​​some minimum trial costs specified in the attorney-client fee agreement. Asking a portion of these costs up front will help you immediately establish a professional and mutually respectful relationship with your client, as well as fill any gaps in your business’ cash flow. If the customer is reluctant to make upfront payments, there are some benefits that you can offer in the form of discounts and flexible pricing.

We hope these few suggestions will help you always get paid on time by violating some common ethical practices or straining relationships with your clients. Healthy finances are the foundation of a successful business and the practice of law is no exception. While setting up a functioning and efficient invoicing system takes some effort, it is the best way to keep your business viable.

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