Billing: It’s all About Staying in the Green Zone
Any law firm can tell you that when the time comes to settle payments, that is when friction happens with clients. This could be for a number of reasons, but the most common one is that the client was expecting a lower payment for services rendered by the firm. The following are:
four legal billing tips to help family lawyers to stay in the green zone.
1. If there is something that the law firm was not going to charge for, then show it on the bill. It could be put under as “no charge”. Everyone likes to see that they got something for free. A no charge example could be something like organizing the case file. Another thing to keep in mind is to not drop any surprises on the client. Always keep the client posted and give them a fair advanced warning on future expenses. Also, it is always better to send out bills as soon as possible. If it is sent several months afterward, then it could end being a minor shock for the client. Some law firms like to give the client a call before the bill is sent out. This gives the whole transaction a personal touch, which always goes down better with clients.
2. The fact of the matter is that a lot of law firms lose money because of poor collection and billing practices. Depending on the situation this lost amount can be substantial. One prominent reason for this is because of out dated law firm billing software or not using a legal billing software. Both are equally bad. If the firm cannot keep up with this sort of IT related tasks, then it may be well worth hiring someone who can handle legal billing software. Sometimes even a paralegal can be trained to be a virtual assistant.
3. As far as legal billing software is concerned there are two basic options when it comes to the IT side of things. The first is to have an in-house server where the legal billing software will be kept so that everyone can access it. The second option is to use cloud service. Both have their pros and cons. However, from a security standpoint cloud based service is a better option. The great thing about cloud based service is that all you need to do is pay a monthly fee and the cloud company will take care of the rest. All you need to do is never forget the password and you are good to go.
Of course, all of this will require some research to find the best legal billing software that fits your business needs. There is software built specifically to be legal-centric. Apart from billing and time keeping they will also include options such as ABA and trust accounting billing codes. Having all of the extra billing related bells and whistles can not only make life a lot easier for the finance department, but it will also be a lot more accurate. In fact, some types of law firm billing software will give the client the option to pay bills on line. The simple truth is that when online billing and payment options are available, payments happen as much as 40% faster! This is because of the overall change in peoples purchasing habits. We as a society have come to expect to go online and get what we want, and be done with it and move on with our lives. Therefore, it is not surprising that this trend has seeped into the legal world.
4. All of this is to accomplish one basic thing and that is to make billing go smoothly between the firm and the clients. No law firm wants to get into the red zone with customers on billing issues. This could start off with something small and grow big in no time. It is how malpractice actions can go from being just a concept to reality.
Why do we Need LSC?
LSC stands for Legal services corporation and it was set up by the US Congress to ensure everyone has the chance to get legal help. It is a fund to help those who need civil legal assistance, who otherwise may not be able to afford it. It was conceived in 1974 with bipartisan congressional support. LSC is run by a board of 11 directors who are appointed by the President of the US. Over the years it went through several budget cuts, but the LSC has managed to soldier on. As of 2015, the LSC had a budget of $375 million.