What would small law firms and independent attorneys change about the process of invoicing and billing clients?
That was the final question we posed in a survey on law firm billing we recently conducted and published on these pages. While 309 respondents took the survey, 133 answered this final question of the survey, which was optional.
It would be a long list to cite every answer, so we’ve boiled it down to eight responses that we believe speak to the overall sentiment expressed. The word cloud nearby provides an analysis of the words most commonly used, for example, the larger the word appears, the more frequently it was cited by respondents
Lawyers on Billing, in their Own Words
It’s worth noting that 89% of the survey respondents self-identified as practicing attorneys. Most work for small firms as 95% reported working at law firms with 10 or fewer lawyers on staff – the vast majority of which were solo- and duo-law firms. In other words, these responses are lawyers in their own words.
1. Streamline the process. “Streamline it, make it faster, easier, more efficient while maintaining high level of accuracy.”
2. Ease the discomfort. “The discomfort of past due billing discussions. Makes me feel greedy to call a client about a past due bill or to issue a written past due statement. Even if I know I’ve earned the fees charged, it is still an unpleasant task.”
3. Make it fun? “Someone else who will do the billing because it takes all the fun out of practicing law to have to bill every minute.”
Law Firms that Discount have more Past Due
Discounting Legal Fees Sends the Wrong Message
Infographic Friday: Billing Rates Up 4%, But So Are Discounts
4. Delegate to law firm staff. “At my firm, the attorneys have to make collection calls to any clients that are late paying. I would prefer to have a staff member take care of that. I find it damaging to my relationship with my clients, and distasteful.”
5. No billing allowed. “I would love not to have to bill clients at all.”
6. Reduce the steps. “Streamlining the process so it doesn’t take so many steps, and so long to complete. For my solo firm I can easily spend an entire business day billing clients.”
7. Give clients flexibility. “Discounting bill rather than being paid what I am worth I’d make it easier for clients to pay me in ways that were convenient for them. Maybe it’s more convenient for one client to pay me in small weekly installments, while it’s easier for another to pay me a flat fee at the end of an engagement. I’d like to be able to be more flexible and allow the best payment structure for the client.”
8. Payment first. “Smart attorneys get the money up front. A wise mentor once told me when I was an intern, once you do the work the client is not going to pay. ‘If they cannot pay you when they need you the most, they are not going to pay you when they no longer need you.’”
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What would you add to this list? Please feel welcomed to share your thoughts in the comments.
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