11 Legal Billing Guidelines

24 Jul

11 Legal Billing Guidelines



Lawyers are like everyone else that works for a living; they want to get paid for what they do. Many lawyers earn their money by being part of a law firm that represents a set group of clients. Other lawyers earn their money on a case by case basis. Then, there are lawyers who earn their income by working for a government agency. There are different ways for lawyers to make their cash and the following information will describe what they are.


Guidelines for the Different Billing Methods by Lawyers

There are four basic ways that lawyers use to earn their income. These methods include charging hourly rates, billing clients for a set fee, charging a contingency fee and acting as a retainer for a client. Many legal agencies and independent attorneys also use law firm billing software which will help them to automatically figure out how to charge a client for their services. Below is an explanation about how these services work.


Hourly Services

A firm or single attorney can charge their clients by the hour. The average cost to hire a lawyer on at an hourly rate is between $200 and $400 dollars. Some small-town attorneys will typically charge about $100 per hour, while a big city attorney (New York or Los Angeles) could charge as much as $800 – $1000 per hour. Attorneys that charge an hourly rate will only bill clients for the amount of hours they work on a case. Keep in mind that the fee that hourly attorney’s charge will also go toward paying their support staff which includes legal secretaries and paralegals.

Set Fee Rates

Some attorneys and lawyers will charge clients a set or flat free rate for their service. The rate will be established off the type of service that a lawyer provides. Flat fee rates usually reflect the hourly rate that it would take a lawyer to perform a specific legal action. In some cases, the rate could be cheaper and in other cases it could be higher than a flat fee rate. Law firm billing software can also be used by attorneys to help them to figure out the amount they would charge for any legal service.


Contingency Rates

Lawyers can also work on contingency for a client. This simply means that a lawyer will take a specific percentage of the monetary value of a case, if they win. Lawyers who work on contingency typically do not accept or deal with cases they cannot win. The percentage that they take is about 33%. However, they can charge lower or higher percentage rates.


Retainer Rates

Lawyers can also work on contingency for a client. In other words, they are given a routine payment to be available for a client when they need legal assistance. Legal billing software can be used to calculate this payment as well. Retainer fees help to ensure that an attorney or firm has a steady source of residual income.

Law Firm Software

There are different types of law firm software. Each of these applications are designed to help lawyers to accurately charge clients for services. They are also designed to keep track of a firm’s or attorney’s earnings over a period of time. Legal billing software can even be set up to automatically charge clients when a payment is due. There are plenty of software billing programs for attorneys. Some of these programs include:


  • FreshBooks
  • PracticePanther Legal Software
  • Zola Suite
  • AbacusLaw
  • CosmoLex


Each of these programs can be set up to help lawyers to focus on serving their clients as opposed to wasting a lot of their time dealing with billing issues. Most law firms use automated software programs to keep track of client billing. This is especially true for large firms and attorneys who have a large list of clients.

Advanced Diploma in Legal Project Management is a field of education major for attorneys. This course can be completed at colleges such as the University of Georgia or Cornell Law School. They not only train lawyers within these great institutions of learning, they also help a person to become a paralegal as well. Lawyers who are educated within a law school will also gain knowledge about legal billing guidelines and law firm billing software. This way they can effectively charge their clients and keep track of their earnings throughout the course of their careers.


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