Law firms can improve cash flow and increase profitability if they improve their billing process and practices.
The client billing process, in many firms is based on a slow, painful monthly schedule. Why … because it’s always been that way. In part 1 of this series we identified the nine (9) current painful and costly steps to client billing. In this posting we’ll discuss the issue of the entire pre-billing process.
Here is how to improve cash flow and profitability by dealing with both the pre-bill process and the attorneys who review the pre-bills:
- The entire pre-bill review process is, quite frankly a poor process to start with. Why do you need to review a pre-bill, what are you looking for? Time entered against the wrong client/matter, time that can’t be billed, lousy narrative …. this is like taking every car off the production line and having to redo poor workmanship in the QA department.
- Should bills be reviewed, maybe the larger, more complex ones. If the billing attorney properly supervises work done on his/her matters, a complete pre-bill review should not be necessary.
- Pre-bill reviews should be done to match the continual billing throughout the month as covered in my earlier post.
- Print pre-bills on a slightly off color paper so that they are real easy to recognize on a crowded desk. .
- Set a pre-bill review deadline, for example 3 business days after delivery. Enforce this review time. Where possible allow secretaries to edit narrative for all pre-bill changes and accounting can do such things as adjustments and transfers. Maintain an ongoing list of all outstanding pre-bills by billing attorney, if they are late contact them or their secretaries and work out a timeframe for submission.
In summary, getting pre-bills reviewed and ready for billing is the final critical step and sometimes the most costly one.
In the next post we’ll look at finalizing bills and getting them to the clients, why is it a problem and what can you do to improve the process and become more profitable.