Getting paid can be a touchy subject. As an attorney, particularly one who bills hourly, this is particularly true, since lawyers have one of the most direct channels between their income and charges paid by their clients. This is of particular concern to the high numbers of attorneys who do not get paid for legal services provided, and who must then resort to a variety of time-consuming, stressful, and costly processes in order to secure their due payments. Although there is no surefire way to verify the accountability of every client who walks through your firm’s doors, there are various means by which your practice management software can optimize your legal billing, increasing the chances that you’ll get paid while enabling you to maintain exemplary degrees of customer service.

Eliminate error

Perhaps the easiest way to undermine a client relationship in a billing situation is to overcharge due to a calculation error or to have to surprise a client with a new charge that failed to be added to their original invoice. It is also extremely frustrating to wonder how many unclaimed (and thus uncompensated) billable hours you may have accumulated for a client due to failure to accurately keep track of your billable time. This is one of the areas in which practice management software is the most useful. One-click timers not only keep track of the seconds, minutes, and hours you dedicate to task completion; they automatically calculate how much you are owed for each completed task based on your set preferences. Through one-click and batch invoicing, you’re able to generate and send out streamlined (and accurate!) invoices in literally seconds. If you have access to any voice assistants, like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant, we highly recommend looking for a practice management software that integrates with Tali, a platform that allows you to track your billable time hands-free and automatically stores it in your software.

Safety first

Among the most valuable features a practice management software can offer you is a secure, intuitive client portal. This portal will allow you to share documents, invoices, receipts, and exchange emails in one, centralized place within your software, making it all the more simple to communicate efficaciously (and safely) with your clients regarding any billing questions or disputes. A client portal, particularly one offering 256-bit encryption, will reinforce a client’s sense of security – not just your own – as they exchange sensitive billing documentation with you. In this day and age, when law firms are considered a “soft target” for hackers and malware, it’s absolutely essential to not only provide your clients with a sense of security when it comes to their data and payment information, but to reinforce that with real measures to make sure their sensitive info remains private.

Money (for your) matters

It is with both security and efficiency in mind that we highly recommend looking for an integration with LawPay in your practice management software. LawPay is not just a certified member benefit of 47 state bar associations; it is the only payment processing platform that is fully IOLTA compliant, making the process of managing your trust and operating accounts easier than ever. From a lawyer’s point of view, LawPay is the way to go.

Payment plans

Few traits are more appreciated within businesses than the ability to accommodate the unique needs of the customers who invest their money and time in your services. This is why it is imperative to offer payment plans to clients who qualify for them. This is a process that, although tremendously beneficial to clients, can easily become overwhelming for your firm if it is not automated. Therefore, a practice management software whose legal billing features include the ability to set up payment plans is absolutely crucial. These plans should encompass automatic reminders for your clients, as well as notifications to you for overdue payments and payments received. The ability to fit your billing structure to your clients’ budgetary capabilities is a fundamental component of optimizing your firm’s customer service.

Don’t forget

Though you’re not likely to forget an outstanding invoice, it is paramount to ensure that clients don’t fall victim to “forgetfulness.” This is why it is particularly valuable to automate your legal billing not just with respect to invoice generation, but throughout the follow-through process as well. Among PracticePanther’s coolest legal billing features is that our members receive a notification each and every time their clients view a new invoice. Our software also enables users to automate to automate reminders to clients about invoice payments that are due, ensuring that you remain on top of your pending payments with minimal effort. Diligence is a trait widely appreciated by clients in their attorneys; there’s no reason why that same trait shouldn’t extend to securing your compensation.

Legal billing for better, not for worse

If managed correctly and followed through with effectively, legal billing should reinforce, not undermine, your firm’s customer service reputation and client relationships. Keep these crucial tips in mind as you shop for legal billing software to automate your payments, and you’ll ensure that the arrival of new invoices in your clients’ inboxes is as painless a process as possible for all parties involved.  

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