Tips for Documenting Attorney Hours and Expenses
Work or expenses not billed is lost money. Although a few dollars here and there may not seem like much, if you are missing expenses regularly that it quickly builds into a large loss of revenue. Too many attorneys use haphazard methods to track hours, which ultimately causes them to under bill clients or get complaints that the practice isn’t doing enough to earn their money. Practices can use attorney time and billing software to make it easy to document all expenses.
- Start With A Written Policy – Don’t expect people to simply know how to use the software or track hours. A written billing policy ensures everyone in the firm is using the same practices. Even single-lawyer firms should have a written policy for protection. If a client complains to your state bar about your billing practices then documented billing procedures will help demonstrate your honest intent.
- Document Hours Even For Flat-Fee Cases – There are two reasons to use time and billing software to track hours for flat-fee cases. First, you can prove to an unhappy client that you did something to earn your fee. Second, your practice can use these records to measure the work being done and determine if your fees are appropriate.
- Document As You Go – Many attorneys sit down at the end of the day — or worse the end of the month — and try to recreate their work schedules for billing. That just doesn’t work. You end up either unintentionally over billing a client or you cheat your practice out of payment for work you did but forgot. Cloud-based legal billing and accounting software can be used from anywhere with an internet connection so attorneys can enter hours or expenses immediately, even if not at the office.
- Track By Client And Matter – One of the main reasons to use dedicated lawyer billing software rather than generic business solutions is matter-based billing. Every expense entered has to be linked not just to a client but also to a particular case. This is difficult or impossible to do with anything other the dedicated legal software.
- Keep Receipts – Although electronic billing is rapidly becoming the norm, paper receipts will always be a part of legal practice. Anything from office supplies to lunch with a client can produce a receipt that needs to become part of the record. If you prefer to keep everything electronic then scan the receipt and include the image as part of the client’s digital file.
Contact Easy Soft to find out how our law practice management software products make it easier than ever to keep comprehensive and accurate billing records.