One of the essential steps to having a successful law firm is a disciplined approach to recording what you do so that you can account for it accurately. Whether you time record, do fixed fee work, value bill or a combination of these (like many firms incidentally), what is important is that you always record it if not contemporaneously then at a minimum every day. Guess work a day or week or month later will see you sell yourself short. You have professional obligations to do so, but more importantly you owe it to your clients and yourself to make accurate records. As for documents, you should have a system for your whole firm so that everyone knows what the other is doing. Once everyone in your firm follows a disciplined approach to this, billing, instead of being a chore, becomes a pleasure.
And so, we come to the fourth foundation stone which is your billing system. There are some simple rules to follow:
- Re-use the data you have captured as you have done the work. Refine it maybe, but you should not have to refer to any other source for preparing a bill.
- Provide enough detail so that your client can understand it. None of us act quickly when we don’t understand something and when it comes to payment, you want action.
- Bill regularly for small amounts. I can’t emphasize this enough. Big unexpected legal bills create client dissonance and discounts and very often formal complaints.
- Get a retainer or a deposit in trust as often as you can. It allows you to concentrate on the legal work and not worry about finances.
- Offer your clients an easy way to pay you online. The fewer clicks from the bill to the payment portal, the more likely you are to get paid fast. Most of us only want to deal with these things once, and opportunities are lost if payment is not easy.
With these four foundation stones in place you can build any type of firm of any size, but they are essential for success.
When you are recording attendances and billing properly. When you can locate and create documents accurately and quickly. When you know with certainty where to find information or documents every time, you will find that a lot of the stress of practice dissipates.
With less stress, you will do better work, have more satisfied clients, enjoy life and make more money. If you are interested in an easy-to-use legal billing system, click here.