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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of April 12, 2016

Billing: Client Acceptance Is Key

Straightforward as it may seem at first, billing actually often involves more questions than solid answers. As court cases and Formal Opinion 93-379 of the American Bar Association (ABA) have shown, billing is a confusing and controversial subject. To clear up the confusion, lawyers should focus on client acceptance.

People in general are paying more attention than ever before to the workings of government and businesses, and they are demanding financial accountability. Clients are no different in terms of what they expect from their lawyers when it comes to billing. This greater client sophistication about billing practices, along with keen competition for legal services and a heightened press awareness and curiosity, has made it critical for lawyers to continually examine their billing procedures to make sure that they are fair, ethical, and practical.

There is fierce competition among attorneys for good clients who pay their bills, which seems to have placed a ceiling on legal fees that was not present once upon a time. In other words, although lawyers may talk about billing procedures in the abstract, the real test is clients’ acceptance.

The opinions of the local and state bar ethics committees are important, but it’s even more important for attorneys to look at their billing practices through the eyes of the client, the person who is expected to pay for the services. Thus, the attorney should ask himself or herself these questions:

  • If I were the consumer of these legal services, how would I feel about the bill I am about to send?
  • What does the agreement specifically call for?
  • Does the client really understand how I will bill my time and services?

A little thought in answering these questions will go a long way toward guiding attorneys in choosing the appropriate methods for handling their billing procedures.



Billing: Client Acceptance Is Key

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