Medical billing has become a popular career choice over the last couple of decades. Recognizing how time-consuming and challenging the billing process can be, many medical professionals have chosen to contract out this responsibility to people who specialize in providing this type of service. Well, did you know that there are also individuals and companies specializing in legal billing? That’s right. More and more law firms are turning to legal billing specialists to handle the ins and outs of their billing systems. It’s a growing industry that is ripe with opportunity, even for enterprising entrepreneurs. Legal billing is not a career to jump into lightly however. A successful start requires knowledge and specific skill sets.
This article will dive further into the legal billing industry. It will provide information about the career as a whole and give some steps for starting on the path to become a legal billing specialist.
What legal billing specialists do
Legal billing specialists essentially manage the billing operations of a law firm. This may include invoicing, collecting payments, and running financial reports for review by firm leadership. Here is a sample job listing for a billing specialist position with a law firm:
“Responsible for processing client billing in a variety of formats depending on the needs of the client, printing of proformas and/or final bills for attorney’s review, researching and answering billing questions from attorneys, secretaries, and clients, as well as inputting and updating invoices in the accounting system, and uploading to the electronic billing system.”
In addition to these general tasks, legal billing specialists may also perform specific administrative duties, including:
- Ensuring that monthly invoices are completed on time
- Communicating and interacting with attorneys, secretaries, other administrative staff members, and firm clients
- Reviewing bills and supporting documentation for accuracy and completeness
- Researching client billing questions and concerns
- Responding to billing disputes
According to Payscale, the average nationwide salary of a legal billing specialist is $49,000. However, job location and years of experience can significantly influence yearly wages. Compensation is also affected by your decision to work for a law firm as a legal billing specialist or to work for yourself, contracting your services out to law firms. With the latter route, you more control over setting your pay rate. However, you may not have access to benefits like medical or retirement planning, so it’s important to take the entire financial picture into consideration.
Education and skill
As I stated before, legal billing is not a career that you jump into without planning and preparation. Most law firms require some measure of accounting or business education, specifically in the form of a bachelor’s degree. However, there are also opportunities for candidates with associate degrees. Even candidates without degrees, who have significant booking or billing experience can find viable opportunities in this field. Some vocational schools offer specific coursework in legal billing. They may even aid with internships and job prospects upon completion of the program.
Some of the skillsets needed for a successful legal billing specialist career include:
- Accounting knowledge and skill
- Computer literacy and the ability to learn a legal time tracking and billing program like TimeSolv.
- Attentiveness to details and an eye for inaccuracies
- Communication skills and the ability to speak with various types of people, from attorneys to clients
- Ability to multitask and efficiently work within a fast-paced environment
- An understanding about the confidentiality of legal practice and the ability to protect firm and client privacy
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Getting your foot in the door
The steps to getting your foot in the legal billing specialist door depends on which route of entry you choose to take. If you are interested in working within a law office, then you need to start with a strong resume. An effective legal billing specialist resume highlights your accounting and business experience. It also demonstrates the skills needed in this industry.
During your job search, you may find these positions listed as “legal billing clerks,” which is generally an entry-level law firm opportunity. Don’t let this entry-level designation deter you though. There are numerous potential advantages to consider, such as medical and dental coverage, retirement planning, and the possibility for promotion within the firm. It is also worth noting that many law firm billing specialists work remotely from home, which can be a huge benefit.
If you are more of the entrepreneurial type, your entry first involves setting up your business. Make sure you follow the laws of your state to properly incorporate and establish your company as a legal entity. Then, it’s all about three words: marketing, marketing, and marketing. You have to get your name out there, so law firms know you exist and want to use your valuable services. Make sure you incorporate social media into your advertising plan. You may also want to join legal networking groups in your area to gain access to potential business partners.
Getting ahead of the game with legal billing software
Unfortunately, the future outlook for legal billing specialists is not the greatest. Like many other industries, this is mostly due to the move towards computerized programs. However, the enterprising specialist will see this as an opportunity and not an impediment. By learning to proficiently use a legal time tracking and billing software, you can position yourself as an asset for attorneys and law firms.
TimeSolv is the best cloud-based billing solution for the legal industry, providing such valuable billing benefits as:
- User-friendly applications
- Quick and easy invoicing
- Expense tracking
- Over 30 reporting capabilities
- Credit card processing integrations
- QuickBooks integrations
If you are a self-employed legal billing specialist, Time Solv makes your job easier and more efficient, even providing you with state-of-the art security measures to keep your client’s information safe from cyber threats. If you are looking for employment within a law firm setting, learning TimeSolv can provide you with an advantage over other candidates. Click here to learn more about TimeSolv and take advantage of a free trial offer – and well wishes for a successful career in legal billing.
About Erika Winston:
Erika Winston is a freelance writer with a passion for law. Through her business, The Legal Writing Studio, she helps legal professionals deliver effective written messages. Erika is a regular contributor to TimeSolv and a variety of other publications.