E-billing: Blessing or Burden

In an article in the September 2007 edition of Law Firm Inc., e-billing is discussed. Here are some of the primary points made in the article:

•    Find errors and charges that aren’t in keeping with the client’s billing standards
•    Compares costs among various outside law firms
•    Saves 15 – 18% of its outside legal costs in some instances
•    Reduces workload in reviewing and approval process
•    Increase payment by 30 days to the law firm
•    Faster pay increases profit for the law firm

•    Increased cost connected with e-billing
•    Usually have to hire a dedicated person/staff to deal with the e-billing detail
•    Places small firms at a competitive disadvantage because they generally can’t afford     the cost of the software, the learning curve and the additional staff required to handle the process
•    On-going software maintenance fees
•    Additional fee for each additional custom billing template needed for a new client
•    Added accounting requirements
•    Steep learning curve for attorneys to learn different billing codes for each client
•    Increased possibility/likelihood of billing errors because of lack of uniformity in codes
•    Rejection of total billing invoice when there is a human error on one element – invoice is returned for correction
•    Notification of error is seldom complete and law firm is expected to know what the error    is; if this is not the case, the process becomes process, return, fix, return, reject, etc., until   it is finally determined what the error is and it’s fixed.

The article concludes that, at the moment, e-billing today is not likely to benefit law firms, though it may in the future; but it clearly is an added cost of doing business.

Thus, whether it’s a blessing or a burden depends on which side of the table this discussion finds you.

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