Comprehensive, accurate and uncluttered invoices increase the likelihood of collection, which is important for maintaining the cash flow of your law firm. However the kind of high-quality invoices produced by legal time and billing software such as CosmoLex may not just be smart; they are arguably required by the American Bar Association.
Your Obligation To The Client
In the article Attorney Fees: Five Keys to Ethical Compliance from the October/November 2010 issue of GPSolo Magazine, author David Cameron Carr hint that, although the ABA Model Rule 1.4 doesn’t explicitly say anything about an attorney’s invoices, it does require the firm to keep the client informed enough to make reasonable decisions. He calls proper billing “an essential part of a lawyer’s ethical duty to communicate with the client”.
Professional legal billing does something else: it reduces the chance of fee disputes. When you provide an itemized list of your hours and expenses then the client can’t claim ignorance, nor will your client be surprised by a huge bill at the end of a long case. If the client does refuse you pay, you can show that you provided all the information required in a timely fashion.
Too Much Information?
Although it is important to provide an itemized statement, if you overwhelm the client with a complicated and cluttered invoice then you aren’t really fulfilling your duty to keep the client informed. You don’t want to give the client an invoice that just says “30 hours of legal work”, but you also may not need to document every two-minute phone call. The balance between over- and under-itemization can be a fine line and is ultimately up to each attorney.
CosmoLex legal billing software provides a default invoice that is clear and uncluttered. Clients can quickly zero in on the important figures — the total money owed right now and the balance of the retainer, if any — and can also look at the itemization to see where the money is going. You can customize these invoices as desired to create a document that reflects you and your firm more accurately.
Clean invoices combined with easy one-click billing, one-click overdue payment reminders and one-click retainer management reminders will go a long way to increasing your practice’s cash flow and profitability. Need more information about how CosmoLex legal office management software can help your practice? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.