Nobody likes to pay their lawyers. After all, attorneys are all rich people with mansions and yachts and million dollar expense accounts, right?
That’s news to a lot of struggling lawyers.
Ignoring overdue accounts will put you out of business, but being too aggressive upsets the client and damages the firm’s reputation. Ideally you want to get paid a flat fee before the case even begins, but that doesn’t work in many areas of law. Here are some tips to using Easy TimeBill (time and billing software for lawyers) to maintain an effective billing system and improve your collections.
Step 1 – Start with Good Billing: All hours and expenses should be billed in writing within 30 days of being incurred. Even if you tell a client about a fee, follow it up with a written invoice. Include an itemization of new charges, the total balance and a due date.
Step 2 – Send Reminders: One of the leading reasons law firms don’t get paid is they don’t follow up on overdue accounts. It might be because they forget, just like the client forgot to pay them, or perhaps they don’t want to risk offending a good client. The fact is it never hurts to send a gentle reminder, and studies show that follow up invoices greatly increase collection rates. Easy TimeBill lawyer billing software automatically generates past due notices for you.
Step 3 – Reach Out: When the attorney time and billing software shows accounts are 60 days overdue, it might be time to find out what’s happening. Clients are often embarrassed when they can’t pay bills so avoid calling your office. The five minutes it takes to contact a client and find out what’s going on can generate a payment. Remember the squeaky wheel. Don’t be rude or aggressive, just ask when the client plans to make a payment.
Step 4 – Negotiation: So what do you do when I client just can’t pay? Over the last few years many businesses have learned that hammering a client is a good way to get ignored. You don’t want to turn into a lender, but you might have to in order to get a payment at all. One of the keys is to try to get the client to commit to some kind of payment, even a small one. Every month the client doesn’t pay makes it easier to keep not paying.
Easy Soft’s attorney practice management software may not be able to handle all of the tasks associated with running a law firm, but we can automate and simplify the practice giving you more time to handle the personal details. Contact us to find out more about how Easy Soft products can help your practice.