4 Steps To Defend Against Billing Disputes
Matter decided, case closed, final billing mailed, account settled, done. Then six months later you get a letter that your client is filing a fee dispute with your bar association. You didn’t even realize the client was unhappy, but now you have to back up your invoice. A legal billing program like CosmoLex can be your best defense against these kinds of complaints.
Step 1: The Initial Consult
Attorneys are expensive. A client who has never experienced a legal action before often suffers sticker shock when realizing how much the case will cost. Lay out your fee structure during your first meeting. Some clients will suddenly decide legal action isn’t the right idea, but that’s good because you don’t waste your time on a case you won’t get paid for. If you bill by the hour, you may want to give an estimate of how many hours you think the case will take with the disclaimer that unexpected problems could increase the cost.
Step 2: Accurate Timekeeping
Update client billing as soon as charges are incurred. Cloud-based software like CosmoLex makes it easy to document your time and expenses even if you are away from the office. When you record fees right away, there is less chance of making a mistake or overlooking a charge.
Step 3: Prompt Billing
You don’t want to spend six months on a matter and then dump a $70,000 invoice on a client. Monthly invoices produced by your time and billing software not only keep the cash flowing to your practice, but also keep the client informed as to what is happening and how high the bill is getting. If the client has a problem, you can deal with it right away rather than months down the road. Even if you are working from an advance retainer, the client needs to know how the retainer is being used.
Step 4: Complete Documentation
Just because the case is over doesn’t mean you throw away your notes. Billing disputes often occur months or years down the road. CosmoLex law office software allows you to maintain records for as long as you need, so you can quickly pull up itemized billing no matter how old the case is. Showing that the client was clearly aware of the fees before the action took place, and was kept in the loop along the way, will go a long way to deciding the dispute in your favor. CosmoLex’s automatic backups keep your information safe from anything that might destroy your records.
Find out more about CosmoLex legal billing software and how it saves you time, improves your cash flow and protects you against audits and fee disputes.