The Benefits of Using Electronic Billing in Your Law Practice
Legal timekeeping management and e-billing help law firms improve productivity, reduce errors, and make smart, data-driven decisions through things like rate comparisons. With electronic billing, corporate legal departments can review invoices automatically, helping them produce consistent data for reports on spend management.
E-billing enables law firms to avoid inefficiencies and resource drains like manual time entry and invoicing. Today, many large and mid-sized firms both here and in other countries use automated billing. Some law firms, however, refuse to adopt this practice. Common roadblocks to using electronic billing systems are unfamiliarity with the LEDES format or with electronic billing itself, the initial cost of setting up a system, and that small firms have small revenues.
Law firms might be resistant to using a tool that they perceive as unfit for their teams. That is especially true for companies that immediately feel the crunch from reduced revenues. However, there are many benefits to billing electronically, some of which we discuss here.
It encourages transparency
Legal departments want to know that they are paying the right cost for services. It is a tool for figuring out if the firm is paying people appropriately. As such, it helps companies avoid situations where, for example, a partner ends up with a junior’s work.
E-billing is not a way for corporate clients to snoop for billing errors and get the lowest rates. Instead, it lets a company show that they cultivate transparency in relationships. It tends to work in their favor and brings in more clients. If a firm allows clients to see what they are billing them for, it lets the latter feel more secure that they are getting value out of the relationship.
It leads to more satisfied customers
When a firm uses timekeeping management software, it will show erroneous billing practices in the short term. That is especially true in the first few months that a company uses the new software, and it may lead to smaller revenues at first. However, this leads to a long-term gain for the company’s reputation. Billing guidelines are not cut and dry, and many companies make mistakes when accounting for hours.
Any implementation process has a learning curve, but when the systems are in place, they will make companies work more efficiently. When there are new guidelines, they produce better conversations and less confrontational disputes about charges. Furthermore, firms can use data gathered electronically to set future fees and adapt a fact-based way of figuring out the rates for their services.
These will result in happy clients, who will want to stay and continue with a relationship. This could also help teams reduce their panels and focus on creating more value for a small group of high-quality clients.
Invoices delivered more efficiently
When a company has electronic invoice reviews, there will be no need for a manual human reviewer. Once the invoice meets the guidelines, the system automatically approves it, and it can be paid faster. It potentially means shorter payment cycles for electronic bills, which strengthens the relationship between client and firm.
Initially, there will be onboarding hurdles and a learning curve, especially when the firm is still setting up guidelines for the electronic processing of invoices. However, once the firm identifies processing inefficiencies, they can easily correct these.
Increases the law firm’s value to potential clients
It is helpful to the firm to see e-billing as a marketing tool. Once the company has its systems figured out, it can even advise clients on best practices in billing and resolving issues. Prospects often expect and even require law firms to know electronic billing and demonstrate that they are capable of providing this service.
Startups and large companies alike are beginning to look for innovation in their legal partners. Law firms that offer only legal advice will soon find themselves left in the dust by their more modern, technology-driven counterparts.
Legal Technology Finder helps legal professionals create efficient departments and practices. We provide legal tech solutions like e-billing, timekeeping management software, and more. Contact us today to learn more!