You might think the number one job of a law firm is practicing law, but firms are dedicating a growing number of resources to debt collection. Rather than turning your business into a collection agency, utilize your attorney billing software to implement a few smart accounting policies to increase payment rates and reduce the amount of collection activity. and attorney software
Start With Effective Billing Policies
Are your clients confused by your bills? The invoices put out by your law firm billing software should be uncluttered, free from legal jargon, and have a consistent format regardless of the number of attorneys who submitted billing information. Services should be itemized, even those performed for free since the latter remind clients of value received.
Audit attorney invoices to be sure they are accurate. Clients won’t pay erroneous charges, and may simply ignore the invoice rather than calling about it. When auditing, don’t just look at the numbers. A simple typo can confuse the client or make the firm look incompetent.
Bill quickly after services are rendered. Clients are more likely to pay for recent services than for older ones, so enter charges into the law firm billing software and mail out the invoice immediately, even for ongoing cases.
Follow Up On Unpaid Invoices
Send invoices monthly as long as the client has an outstanding balance. It’s easy for an invoice to get buried in a pile of paperwork, and polite and timely reminders of monies owed greatly improve the collection process.
If a client has received invoices and has not paid or contacted the firm, don’t just keep sending bills. Take a more active role. Call the client and ask if there is a problem. The client may be stewing over an erroneous charge, or may be having cash flow problems which prevent timely payments. Either way, once you understand why payment has been delayed you can work with the client to find a solution.
Offer Flexible Payment Options
Debt collection shouldn’t be a black and white situation. There are many options between mercilessly hounding a client for payment and writing off the bad debt as a loss.
Some law firms are reluctant to extend credit to clients since they can’t afford to assume the liability. Rather than offering a straight payment plan, propose scheduled credit card payments through the law firm billing software. These payments go through automatically, and many people are more willing to agree to credit card payments than try to find the cash every month.
Firms might also consider partnering with credit agencies that assume the debt liability. The arrangement benefits both the firm and the client, and can easily be administered through attorney billing software.
One last note: don’t forget be appreciative of your customers! Any invoice generated by your attorney billing software should automatically include a thank you note for the client’s business.