Law firm tips: How to avoid getting accused of overbilling clients using the right billing software

Written by Erika Winston

5 min read

No attorney wants to be accused of wrongdoing. Whether it’s doubts about your legal expertise or allegations of overbilling, the experience can be extremely unpleasant and stressful. Well, fortunately, the right tools can help you avoid accusations of overbilling.

With quality legal software, you can ensure that your firm’s bills are accurate, timely, and within client expectations. The right platform provides a proactive approach to overbilling complaints, putting practices in place to handle these dilemmas before they even arise.

Keep reading to explore all the ways that the right legal billing software keeps you on track with your clients and out of that uncomfortable zone of overbilling accusations.


Better billing practices

If you’ve been running your practice without legal billing software – or a less than stellar platform – you and your attorneys have likely developed some really scary billing practices. For example, are you searching through your desk calendar to jog your memory for invoicing purposes? What about providing your billing clerk with numerous pieces of paper? If any of this sounds familiar, you definitely have room for improvement.

The right billing software promotes better billing practices among every member of your firm, with features that allow you to:

  • Account for every second spent on a task.
  • Efficiently create detailed invoices.
  • Create and stick with a set budget for each matter.
  • Keep clients informed about the progress of their cases.


Fixed fee arrangements

Flat fees have become a staple of legal practice for one big reason. Clients prefer them. They appreciate the reliability of knowing how much their legal representation will cost right from the jump, and they don’t want any surprises on the backend.

While some attorneys have jumped on board the fixed fee train, many others have been hesitant to make the leap. They may be uncertain about how to set their fees or doubtful about adequate compensation for their work. But the right legal billing software can remove those doubts by providing the tools you need to set flat rates that ensure suitable compensation while offering the client a fair cost.

With comprehensive legal billing software, you can:

  • Review the cost and time allocation for previous similar matters.
  • Set time and monetary budgets for efficient matter management.
  • Create milestones to gauge the progress of client matters.


Detailed bills

Detailed invoices can go a long way in the prevention of overbilling accusations. When clients can clearly see the level of work done on their cases, they are less likely to question whether your firm actually completed the billed tasks. This doesn’t mean that you have to write an entire legal brief for every billing entry. However, a brief description of who you met with and the general reason for the meeting is much more effective than a simple “conference” invoice entry.

The right legal billing software makes it easy to create detailed billing statements. It provides useful billing templates, complete with ABA defined categories for time spent, as well as expenses.


Client portal as support

Poor communication is another reason behind overbilling accusations. Put yourself in the client’s shoes. You hear nothing from your attorney for weeks or even months. Then, you receive a large invoice out of the blue… one that is much larger than you expected.   Can you see how that scenario can potentially turn into an allegation of overbilling?  

Clients want to hear from you on a regular basis. A legal billing system with a client portal can make that task much easier to handle. With a portal, clients can independently log into their accounts to view work done on their matters, invoices, and trust account balances.

Using a client portal system allows you to stay in communication with your clients. They feel informed about work done on their cases, so they are less likely to question your bills.


Accurate time tracking

The best defense to an overbilling accusation is accurate time tracking. If you are correctly keeping track of every billable increment of time, you can adequately defend your billing amounts.

The right legal billing software includes an effective time tracking tool. This means that it includes the following features:

  • Convenience – Your attorneys need the ability to access the time tracking platform quickly and easily.
  • Mobility – Attorneys commonly work outside of the office. With a truly mobile tracking tool, they can accurately track time, even when there’s no internet connection.
  • Integration – Easy-to-use integration between time tracking and invoicing tools.


Staying on budget

Another reason for overbilling accusations is the failure to stay on budget. When you’re caught up in the details of a matter, it can be easy to get carried away and forget how much time you are spending on what may be an insignificant task. In fact, there is even some debate that the entire hourly billing system promotes time spent on unnecessary tasks. Regardless of where you fall on the debate, the right billing system helps keep you on track with each matter’s budget.

Effective software allows you to set time and monetary budgets for the matter, as well as each member of the team working on that matter. When one member goes beyond their budgeted time, the system sends an alert to everyone with authorization. So, not only is the member notified, but also any relevant supervisors.


Meeting deadlines

Just like staying on budget, meeting established deadlines also works to promote trust between your firm and its clients. The right legal billing software includes a comprehensive calendaring system, so you and your firm members can keep track of every deadline. Keeping you out of trouble and your clients satisfied.

TimeSolv is the right legal billing software to help your law firm avoid overbilling accusations. With effective time tracking tools, a client portal, and detailed billing options, it’s the best choice for your legal practice needs. To learn more about TimeSolv’s features, 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. 

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