Along with client services, the billing process is the heartbeat of a law firm. Besides, without billing, there is no compensation, and without compensation, there is no revenue, and without revenue… you get the picture. But law firms don’t just need a billing process, they need a billing process that actually works. Whether charging by the hour or on a fixed fee basis, the more time spent on nonbillable invoicing duties, the less time spent on client work and high-value billable tasks.
Any lawyer that has taken on the responsibility of creating and sending invoices knows how time-consuming and challenging it can become. From the time tracking phase to getting compensated by the client, it is no easy chore to take on without the right systems in place.
This post is for all of the law firms that keep their outdated inefficient billing processes because they have no clue how to fix them. Here are 6 easy steps to take control of that inefficient, ineffective law firm billing process.
1. Review Current Processes
The first step to fixing a legal billing problem is reviewing current procedures and analyzing their effectiveness. Consider every step of the billing process from time tracking to client payment when attempting to identify issues.
To make a comprehensive assessment, ask staff members for their input about the current invoicing process. Ask their impressions about the ease of use and the amount of time it takes to complete these tasks. Having actually handled the invoicing process on a regular basis, these individuals can provide valuable input.
2. Identify Bottlenecks and Address Them
Reviewing current processes will help you recognize bottlenecks in your system. For example, are invoices not being sent out on a regular basis? This one issue can cause a variety of problems for a firm, from dissatisfied clients to late payments.
Implement procedures and technology that address each of the identified problems. Just as you seek help from staff members to identify the problems, ask for their suggestions on solving them. You will likely find that some collaboration and the right tools can significantly improve your law firm’s billing process.
3. Track Time Accurately
Time tracking is the first step of the billing process, but inaccurate time tracking is a common problem among billing processes that don’t work. If timekeepers are not tracking their tasks completely and correctly, the entire billing system breaks down. Invoices go out late or (even worse) with mistakes. Clients see these discrepancies and may refuse to pay.
Provide timekeeper with the tools they need to track time quickly and easily. Use software, like TimeSolv legal billing, that offers an app, so attorneys can track time from wherever they happen to be working. When time is tracked immediately, the billing process starts out on the right foot.
4. Update Your Technology
Numerous legal billing software on the market that offers law firms a more innovated and updated method of time tracking and invoicing. The right system can automate aspects of your firm’s billing tasks to streamline the process and free up time for more profitable pursuits.
For many law firms, TimeSolv has proven to be the only technology they need to create and maintain a successful billing process. From generating customized invoices to conveniently collecting payments online, TimeSolv offers law firms the tools they need to take control of the billing process.
Here are some of the many benefits offered by TimeSolv:
- A mobile app that promotes timely and accurate time tracking. Accurate invoicing starts with accurate time tracking.
- Electronic invoicing allows law firms to quickly send invoices online. Attorneys can even set the system to send automated payment reminders or to bill at established milestones.
- Invoice customization enables law firms to personalize their invoices with the firm’s own branding and tailored messaging.
- Integration options with various accounting software make accounting tasks easier to handle.
5. Reconsider how you Accept Payments
Law firms that only accept paper checks and cash payments are likely to experience consistent payment delays. We live in a society where clients expect the option of paying their legal fees online. When they are forced to mail a paper check or bring cash to the office, they may procrastinate, which means slower payments for the law firm and a greater likelihood of never receiving full compensation.
With electronic invoicing and online payment options, law firms can greatly reduce the time between the receipt of an invoice and payment. Such tech innovations as TimeSolv’s client portal feature allows for streamlined delivery of billing statements. Their collaboration with LawPay provides law firms with a simple process for collecting credit card payments while complying with state Bar rules. By making the payment process convenient, law firms are more likely to get paid completely and on time.
6. Standardize the Process
Once you have identified the problems and addressed them, standardize your billing process to eliminate inconsistencies or ambiguities. Reduce the steps to written procedures that can be followed by any staff member at any time. Doing this creates specific guidelines for your attorneys and staff members to follow, promoting greater efficiency and profitability.
Create a Billing Process that Saves Your Firm Time and Money
Every hour of time is valuable within a law firm. If you or your staff are spending too many hours creating invoices and following up on late payments, that’s time you’re not spending with your clients, and time you’re not billing. With these simple steps, law firms can take control of their problematic billing processes to make them more efficient and profitable. For more information about how TimeSolv can help improve your law firm’s billing process, click here for a free, no-obligation trial.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a freelance writer with a passion for law. Through her business, Personal Touch Edits, she helps legal professionals deliver effective written messages. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.