Get Paid Faster While Keeping Clients Happy

Published by the American Bar Association, October 2008.

Communication is key to satisfying clients and receiving timely payments, says management consultant Edward Poll in “Is the Check Really in the Mail? Only If You Bill the Right Way!” a resource on the Section of Law Practice Management Web site to help lawyers improve the billing process.

The primary purpose of a bill is to collect payment, and it also offers an opportunity to leave clients with a favorable impression of the services they received. According to Poll, “an effective bill is one that speaks clearly and directly to clients about how you as a lawyer have improved their lives.”

Regular communication can help clients understand the value of legal work. Poll suggests that lawyers send clients copies of all relevant documents throughout the engagement and provide status reports on a regular basis. The time spent on client communication should be free, he says. Regular communication not only builds trust and appreciation for the completed work, it also helps ensure timely payments.

Other billing tips include:

  • List charges with detail. Because legal services are intangible, more information aids the perception of fairness.
  • Use technology to enhance convenience. E-mail bills as PDF files to get bills to clients faster. Also consider electronic invoicing services and offer a credit card payment option.
  • Send bills in a timely fashion. If you have negotiated a favorable deal for a client, bill right afterward to better ensure quick payment. 

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