We all want to get paid for the work we do. But working on the actual billing that means we can get paid? Not nearly as enjoyable.
Billing clients can be a time-consuming headache, especially when you’re not using modern tools. Tasks that could take only minutes take hours. And all that time is taking away from other things that could benefit you and your practice like billable hours, strategic planning, and business development.
Legal billing can be time-consuming
Billing can sound like a quick task. That is until you sit down to do it. If you’re manually handling billing, you’re well aware of the many steps involved – timekeeping, expense tracking, creation and review of invoices, sending them out, and collecting payment.
With all of these steps, the time billing takes can quickly add up. But practicing law is a service-based profession. That means billing is how you get paid, so even if you don’t look forward to it, it still needs to happen to keep the doors open.
If you have a bookkeeper, billing administrator, or someone else on staff handling billing and invoicing, there still needs to be organization when they go to do it so they can easily determine the amount of time spent on a client’s matter or locate case expenses. Without these pieces in place, you’re still going to wind up putting together a lot of the information before they can even get started.
What does “modern tools” even mean?
Modern tools are the ones that use technology to help you be more efficient and productive. While there are tasks that need to be done manually, such as strategizing your approach to a case or writing a brief, there are many others that can be completed faster with the use of tech. With all of the legal-specific programs out there today, law firms are well-positioned to be able to do more with less.
When you make an investment in modern tools, you free up time to focus on billable hours and to use your brainpower for more big-picture tasks that can have a significant impact on your practice.
For law firms, there are three types of technology to choose from:
- On-premise software, where information and programs are installed on a local computer
- Hosted cloud, where you can log in to your computer remotely
- Native cloud, where you can access your data and program from any online browser
Although COVID-19 is showing firms how important it is to be able to work remotely and access the information you need when you need it, client expectations already existed for lawyers to be able to stay informed and working even while out of the office. To be able to take advantage of the latest in features and updates, work from home or on the road, and to avoid having to maintain infrastructure and keep purchasing software licenses, native cloud is the choice for firms who truly want to maximize their productivity and client satisfaction.
Ways modern tools can help you
The key to keeping a consistent cash flow is regular invoicing and collection follow-ups. This can be hard when the thought of billing brings to mind hours of work. With modern tools, you can significantly cut down on the time it takes – and increase your cash flow.
Most importantly, with cloud access you can make sure you’re inputting accurate, timely information.
Time & Expense Tracking
Whether you’re getting paid hourly or through a flat fee model, you should be tracking time and expenses as they happen. Doing this manually, even when done consistently, can lead to significant time entering these onto invoices later or missing entries. With the right modern billing program you can:
- Enter time and expenses as they happen through a mobile app
- Quickly import timesheets with multiple entries at once
- Use passive time tracking tools to make sure you do it correctly
- Easily get time matched with the right matter
- Connect bank feeds and automatically import costs for matching
All of these features mean that once you go to bill, the information that needs to be on an invoice is already in the system. No more backtracking through client files to try and figure out missing time or failing to be reimbursed.
If you’re keeping track of time and expenses regularly with the right tools, you’ll be able to also take advantage of bulk billing. With just a few clicks you can filter out information and create invoices in batches, using templates to make sure all the details you need are included.
Another plus – say good-bye to sending invoices one by one. You’ll also be able to batch produce them, either printing them in a single shot or emailing them all at once.
Sending invoices is just part of the billing process. You also need to make sure clients pay them.
Inevitably, you’ll run into situations where invoices are past due. If you’ve already spent time working on a case, spending unbilled time to get paid for your hard work can be frustrating. With automation and payment options, you can let technology do the work for you to:
- Schedule reminders to go out when invoices are nearing their due date or past due
- Include a credit card payment option right on the invoice with a button linked to the processor
- Transfer retainer funds in batches
Get paid, save time
No matter what changes are coming to the legal industry, getting paid is always going to be a priority. Thanks to technology and the power of the cloud, it can be an efficient process that leaves you less stressed about incoming payments. In today’s modern world, the use of tools can give you a competitive edge – and give you more time than you thought possible.