The time has come for law firms across the globe to automate their legal invoice process. However, the full-on automation of the legal billing process can cause problems for both law firms and clients. There is a delicate balance between complete legal billing automation and manual human-driven billing. Let’s take a look at how law firms can achieve this balance.
The process of reviewing bills, analyzing them for errs, and transmitting them to clients doesn’t have to chew up your team’s valuable time and energy. Nor does opening and reviewing bills sent to your law firm to identify inaccuracies have to drown your team in monotonous work.
With the right strategy, you can partially avoid the monotony of the inbound and outbound invoice approval process. A couple of minor adjustments have the potential to dramatically alter the flow of invoices into and out of your firm. The right strategy even makes it possible to automate away much of the burden of legal billing and hasten the process.
The precise documentation of your law firm’s billing guidelines details exactly how billing is to be conducted. Clear and convincing guidelines eliminate the potential for an outbound or inbound bill to spark a lengthy and mutually destructive argument between attorneys, billing personnel and others.
Implement your selected standardized criteria into the billing and invoice review software. You’ll find it is that much easier to expedite client billing and your firm’s accounts payable processes. Once your billing guidelines are detailed, the stage is set for you to begin perfecting your use of technology.
There is significant hesitancy among attorneys to bypass or limit automatic approvals as allowing invoices to be paid without review can take a chunk out of the bottom line. However, it makes sense to blindly approve specific legal invoices, especially if they are low-cost and transmitted by trusted parties. Implement e-billing guidelines with specific financial parameters and line items of particular values, and more minor will be automatically approved.
The days of sending and receiving bills through paper invoices transmitted via USPS snail mail are quickly fading away. The most efficient law firms create bills and submit invoices through digital platforms. Shift to electronic billing software that applies legal billing guidelines as described above. You’ll find it much easier to identify errors, apply guidelines to invoices, and analyze questionable items for review.
Though the vast majority of invoices will prove compliant, some will be non-compliant. Specific invoices are flawed because they are not even worthy of a single mouse click. Unauthorized block billing, the lack of detail, insufficient or no descriptions, and other flaws should be flagged and automatically rejected then returned. Ideally, the e-billing system you choose will be able to identify such defects before the point at which they make it to your desk.
Analyzing the success or failure of your legal invoice automation requires critical thinking from your human personnel instead of machines. Invest the time and effort necessary to evaluate your legal invoice automation process, determine if the guidelines you’ve established are working with accuracy and efficiency, and make the required adjustments. Continue to analyze the feedback from your invoice approval workflow as well as that of your human personnel reviewing the process, pivot accordingly, and you’ll eventually perfect your invoice and billing systems.